Woman’s headless body found in woodland with Bible quote tucked into pocket

A woman’s headless body was found near the coast with a Biblical quote written on a scrap of paper in her jacket pocket, a court heard.

The decapitated remains of Mee Kuen Chong, 67, were found dead in woodland in Salcombe, Devon, by holidaymakers in June last year.

The devout Christian’s fractured skull was then found in undergrowth a few metres away from the rest of her body days later following an extensive search, the Old Bailey was told.

The prosecution claim she had been dumped there by her alleged killer Jemma Mitchell, 38, during a 500-mile round trip from London.

Giving evidence, pathologist Dr Deborah Cook said she arrived at the scene near the Salcombe estuary to examine the decapitated body shortly after 11pm on June 27 last year.

She told jurors: “It was apparent that the head and at least the first two bones that form the spine were absent.”

The larynx at the front of the neck was also missing, she said.

Ms Chong was wearing a Marks and Spencer jacket with various items in the pocket including a plastic wallet, Oyster card and business cards for a GP, dentist and evangelical church.

There were also small pieces of paper torn from a notepad with a quote from the Bible on them, jurors were told.

Ms Chong was also wearing a dress and strappy sandals with the handle of a purple handbag looped in one.

Inside the bag was a camera, a tote bag and a length of orange rope which the prosecution alleges matches some found at Mitchell’s home.

Dr Cook went on to describe the “unusual” nature of the crime scene which was outside her experience as a pathologist.

A post-mortem examination proved inconclusive due to decomposition, but Dr Cook noted a skull fracture and multiple rib breaks as well as clean skin cuts at the top of the body.

The head was almost entirely “de-fleshed”, but the pathologist cast doubt on whether animals were responsible.

She said: “In my experience of animals taking flesh from the skull – which I have seen – they are not careful about where they take it from so that is very unusual.

“It caused me to raise my eyebrows, the headband was nicely in place if animals had accounted for all the de-fleshing of the skull.”

Under cross-examination, Dr Cook was asked about a scenario in which Ms Chong’s injuries could be from falling or being pushed and then given chest compressions to resuscitate her.

She said: “If that hypothetical possibility was put to me, that offers an explanation for the skull fracture… then the rib fractures as well.” But she added: “It does not explain decapitation.”

Dr Cook confirmed that in her opinion, the victim died before she got to Salcombe.

The prosecution alleges Mitchell murdered vulnerable Ms Chong at her house in Wembley, north west London, on June 11 last year then faked her will to get money to pay for repairs to her own home.

On June 26 last year, Mitchell drove a rental car to Devon, where it is alleged she deposited Ms Chong’s body.

The court heard how Ms Chong had a history of mental ill health dating back to 2015 when she was noted in GP records as having schizo-affective disorder and acute stress.

According to the records, she suffered an episode of mania with psychotic symptoms in 2017 but by the next year her condition had stabilised and she was discharged by community mental health team.

In May 2021, records indicate she had paranoid schizophrenia.

Former osteopath Mitchell, of Willesden, north west London, has denied murder and the trial continues.

Written by