A prominent Hong Kong academic was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of murdering his wife and stuffing her body into a suitcase.
The case comes as the city is already gripped by the bizarre ongoing trial of another university professor, who is accused of killing his wife and daughter with a gas-filled yoga ball.
At a press conference on Tuesday, Hong Kong police superintendent Law Kwok-hoi said a 53-year-old man surnamed Cheung had been arrested on suspicion of murder. Local media identified the man as Cheung Kie-chung, an associate professor at the University of Hong Kong (HKU) and member of its governing council.
“I am sure that you are as saddened and shocked as I am,” HKU Vice-Chancellor Xiang Zhang said in an internal email to staff and students that was provided to CNN.
“While the details are uncertain, what is clear is that a tragic event has occurred, and many students, staff and alumni will be affected. Our thoughts are with the affected ones at this very difficult time.”
HKU said it would be providing assistance for anyone who needed it.
Wife reported missing
Cheung is warden of HKU’s Wei Lun Hall, a student residential building near the university’s main campus on the western side of Hong Kong Island.
In an email to students earlier this week, reported in local media, he sought to reassure other residents about the heavy police presence, saying officers were investigating “a missing person case involving my family.”
Police said Cheung had reported his wife missing on August 20, saying he had not seen her in several days after the pair argued late in the evening of August 17.
Law said the couple had argued over Cheung’s failure to support his wife in a dispute with their daughter over the cleanliness of the family bathroom. The daughter later posted a missing person poster for her mother on the university campus.
“After receiving the report, we checked the CCTV footage in the building,” Law told reporters. “We found that the informant’s wife had not left the building. Instead, the informant had moved a huge wooden box.”
On Tuesday, they raided Cheung’s offices and discovered the box. Inside was a large suitcase seeping blood and giving off a “bad smell.”
The body of a woman, dressed only in her underwear and with electric wire around her neck, was stuffed inside the suitcase.
Yoga ball murder
Cheung’s arrest comes amid the ongoing murder trial of another Hong Kong professor, Malaysian national Khaw Kim-sun, who has been accused of killing his wife and teenage daughter with a carbon-monoxide-filled yoga ball.
A jogger discovered the pair’s bodies inside a yellow Mini Cooper in Sai Kung, in northeastern Hong Kong, in 2015. A deflated yoga ball was also found inside car.
Prosecutors said that Khaw — who denies the killings — ordered the deadly gas through his position as an associate professor in anesthesiology at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
Colleagues testified to seeing him fill two yoga balls with the gas, which Khaw said he had ordered for an experiment on rabbits.
The professor later told police he planned to use the carbon monoxide to deal with a rat problem at his home, though the family’s domestic helper testified there was no rodent issue.
Prosecutors told the court Khaw’s wife had discovered he was having an affair with a student, but refused to get a divorce, according to the South China Morning Post. Khaw said his daughter was depressed and may have committed suicide, a claim prosecutors rejected, the report added.
While Hong Kong is remarkably safe for a city of its size, the city has seen a number of high profile murder cases in recent years.
In June, a former nursing student murdered her parents before killing herself. Police said they found a suicide note in the girl’s bedroom saying she was bothered by long-term eczema.
The case of Rurik Jutting, a British banker who tortured and killed two women at his expensive flat in downtown Hong Kong, made global headlines. This year, Jutting lost an appeal against his conviction.