HONG KONG - A 37-year-old woman has been arrested on suspicion of murdering and dismembering her 12-year-old daughter, in a gruesome crime that has shocked Hong Kong.
The girl's dismembered body was discovered on Sunday (Dec 17) night when police visited the subdivided flat in Mong Kok district mother and daughter lived in for an unrelated complaint, Hong Kong media reported.
Police removed 11 bags of body parts from the 60 sq ft (5.54 sq m) subdivided flat on Sunday. On Monday, forensic pathologists took away other items, including blood-stained jewellery and laundry detergent.
A neighbour who lives opposite the flat said on Monday that she heard chopping noises, which lasted about half an hour, coming from the flat at around 3pm on Sunday. The neighbour, named only as Tsui, claimed she often said "hi" to the suspect but had never met the daughter before, reported local media.
The vice-principal of the girl's primary school said teachers and students were saddened by the case.
Teachers described the girl, who is identified only by her surname He, as a pupil with “good conduct” who had a “good relationship with teachers and schoolmates”.
Neighbours said the mother and daughter were always quarrelling but the pair became unusually quiet recently.
The mother, identified only by her surname Cao, is said to be a two-time divorcee who works as a masseuse, Apple Daily said, citing sources. Her daughter's father is her first husband, who is reported to be living in China.
Cao and her daughter came to Hong Kong in 2013 after she married a Hong Kong man, the daily said.
Police said there was no record of domestic violence or mental illness. They were trying to locate the father.
The mother and daughter had been living in the subdivided flat on the third floor of the Man Fok Building, which is a stone's throw away from the Mong Kok police station.
Apple Daily reported that the woman borrowed a mobile phone from a neighbour at around 7pm on Sunday. She claimed that her phone was being tapped and she needed to make a phone call to her husband to seek help. The neighbour made a police report when Cao refused to return the phone.
Police arrived at the scene at around 9pm on Sunday. They had to break down the door as Cao refused to let them enter the flat, reported South China Morning Post.
There was a strong smell of disinfectant when police entered the unit. It was flooded with water, which was mixed with blood, seeping out from the bathroom.
When the police entered the bathroom, they found dismembered body parts in the shower stall. Some local reports said that drainage pipes were clogged because the suspect tried to get rid of the body parts by washing them down the pipes.
"Her head, organs and body had been mutilated. The shower was blocked, which resulted in flooding that affected neighbouring flats," Mong Kok assistant district commander Chung Chi Ming told reporters.
It was reported that the woman used a chopper to dismember the body. Police are combing the back alleys and streets in the Canton Road neighbourhood in search of other tools that might have been used in the case.
Police were also looking at closed-circuit television footage of the shops in the neighbourhood.