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Deborah Chong was a 67-year-old widow from London who made friends everywhere she went. Despite her mental health problems, she tried to stay optimistic and kind to everyone.When she went missing in June 2021, everyone suspected that something had happened to her because they knew she wouldn’t suddenly and unexpectedly leave her home.

Mee Kuen Chong, also known as Deborah Chong, was born in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. As an adult, she relocated to the United Kingdom and moved to Wembley, London, in 2004. Chong lived in a two-story home on Chaplin Road, which she shared with a tenant. She was a devout Christian and a member of Emmanuel Centre church in Edgeware.

Chong regularly attended church services and was active in the choir. She enjoyed singing, drinking tea with her neighbors, and socializing. Unfortunately, Chong also had mental health problems, and her illness worsened after the death of her husband.

Chong met most of her friends through church, including Jemma Mitchell. Mitchell was an osteopath, and the two women quickly became inseparable because Chong thought Mitchell could cure her mental illness. Despite this, Chong’s condition got worse at the beginning of 2021. She believed she was in a relationship with Prince Charles (now King Charles III), who communicated with her through YouTube.

Chong sent letters to Prince Charles and to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, which were read by the Fixated Threat Assessment Centre, a police unit in charge of managing risk to public figures. She was referred to a community mental health team and was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. Chong was prescribed anti-psychotic medication in May 2021.

Who is Jemma Mitchell?

Jemma Mitchell was born on July 22nd, 1984, in Australia. Her mother worked for the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Her parents separated, and Mitchell moved to the UK with her mother and sister. Mitchell went to King Edward’s Witley, a private boarding school in Wormley.

In 2004, she began studying for her human sciences degree at King’s College London, where she excelled in human anatomy and was awarded the Hamilton Prize for Anatomical Excellence in 2009. Mitchell graduated with First Class Honors and enrolled in the British School of Osteopathy. She returned to Australia and worked as an osteopath in Helensvale, Queensland.

Mitchell returned to the UK in 2015 and moved in with her mother and sister. The family lived in Willesden in northwest London. The house was old and needed to be repaired since it had been in the family for several generations. Furthermore, the family struggled with hoarding. Instead of cleaning the home, they decided to build a third floor.

Mitchell and her mother paid £230,000 to construction workers, who took their money and didn’t start the renovations. Mitchell wasn’t working as an osteopath because she wasn’t registered with the General Osteopathic Council in the UK. Instead, she presented herself as a “spiritual healer.”

In August 2020, Mitchell met Chong at their church, and they became fast friends despite their age difference. Mitchell allegedly helped Chong with her mental illness through spiritual healing. The women exchanged hundreds of text messages starting in September 2020. Chong talked about wanting to leave her house to a charity because she didn’t want to pay the inheritance tax, and Mitchell suggested she should give her the property, and she would send the money to a charity of Chong’s choice.

In November 2020, Mitchell spoke with Chong about the family property and everything that happened with the builders. Chong offered to give Mitchell the money for the renovations but wanted to meet her mother first. In December 2020, Chong offered £200,000 to Mitchell, and she gladly accepted. But soon after, Chong’s mental health deteriorated, and she was acting erratically, which resulted in her hospitalization.

The Disappearance

In June 2021, Chong was doing better but had trouble walking. She changed her mind regarding the money and advised Mitchell to sell their family property, which was worth more than £4 million. Mitchell attempted to manipulate her, but Chong stuck to her decision.

On June 9th, 2021, Chong spoke to her social worker from the community mental health team. She also talked to her lodger on June 10th. He was the last person to see Chong alive.

On June 11th, Mitchell was seen exiting her house at 6:30 am. She was carrying a large blue suitcase that appeared to be empty. After catching a train to Wembley, Mitchell was spotted walking toward Chong’s house. It was evident she tried to disguise herself by wearing a mask and a cap, but she still had the suitcase with her. Mitchell’s movement was recorded by CCTV cameras. She stayed at Chong’s house for five hours.

Mitchell exited Chong’s house at 1:15 pm. She carried the same suitcase that seemed to be heavier and a small bag. It is unclear what had happened inside the home of Deborah Chong that morning, but Mitchell continued strolling around London with a bulky suitcase for two hours. She then took a cab home and visited a hospital several hours later because her finger was fractured.

Mitchell told the doctors she had injured her hand on a car door, but the truth was it probably happened during the struggle with her friend. Chong’s lodger came home from work that night and noticed Chong had left her phone and glasses on the table. Considering her recent mental health problems, the lodger immediately contacted the police. He was concerned something might have happened to her.

The police searched the Wembley area and interviewed Chong’s neighbors and friends, hoping she told someone where she was going. Mitchell told law enforcement that Chong was depressed and told Mitchell she decided to visit her family, who lived close to the ocean. She didn’t have any more details.

The truth was Chong was in the suitcase left in Mitchell’s garden.

After two weeks, Mitchell knew she had to get rid of the body. One of her neighbors had passed away several months prior, and Mitchell was in possession of his cell phone. On June 26th she used the phone to rent a grey Volvo. She put the suitcase inside, and drove to Devon, which is less than four hours from London. On her way there, she had a flat tire and was spotted on surveillance camera at the Co-op garage near Salcombe.

Discovery of the Body

A day later, on June 27th a woman renting a cottage discovered Chong’s decomposing body on a woodland path. Investigators arrived quickly and sealed off the area. The body was beheaded, so they searched for the missing body part. The victim was soon identified as 67-year-old Deborah Chong from Wembley, London.

Four days later Chong’s head was found close to the path. The medical examiner couldn’t determine the exact cause of death before the second discovery but found a fracture in the skull that suggested Chong had died of blunt force trauma. Her ribs were also broken. After reviewing the CCTV footage, the Metropolitan Police were positive Jemma Mitchell killed Deborah Chong.

Mitchell was arrested on July 6th in her home. She acted surprised when she saw police officers at her door and didn’t seem angry she was being taken into custody. But during the interrogation, Mitchell refused to answer any questions. Meanwhile, her house was searched and the investigators located the small bag she took from Chong’s home on the day of the murder. The contents included Chong’s documents, passport, ID, driving license, and last will.

The will, which was allegedly written by Chong, stated she left 95% of her estate to Mitchell and 5% to Mitchell’s mother. The signature analysis confirmed the documents were forged. Mitchell was charged with Chong’s murder and pleaded not guilty on September 28th, 2021.

The Trial

The trial began on October 11th, 2022, at the Old Bailey. The prosecution claimed that Chong was killed for financial gain and that Mitchell had planned the murder for weeks. CCTV footage from the day of the murder was shown in the courtroom. The repairman who fixed Mitchell’s flat tire confirmed that the car had a strong, musty smell. She also drove the Volvo with windows down even though the weather was rainy.

The investigators in charge of the case testified in court and confirmed they had found Chong’s documents and will at Mitchell’s house. Furthermore, the police discovered the suitcase on the roof of her neighbor’s shed. It was tested, but the forensic laboratory failed to find traces of Chong’s DNA on the inside. They did recover a bloody towel from one of the pockets.

Mitchell’s defense repeated these findings and added that there were no signs of struggle in Chong’s house to suggest it was the murder scene. Mitchell refused to testify on the stand. Her defense claimed she was rich and had no reason to kill Chong for financial gain.

On October 27th, 2022, the jury found Jemma Mitchell guilty. They deliberated for seven hours before reaching the verdict. On October 28th, 2022, Mitchell’s sentencing phase was televised, and she became the first female murderer from the UK sentenced on live TV. She received life in prison with the possibility of parole after 34 years.