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Everything you need to know about 'Body in the Suitcase: The Murder Of Deborah Chong'

Jemma Mitchell (left) and Deborah Chong (right)
Image: Jemma Mitchell (left) and Deborah Chong (right) | Body in the Suitcase: The Murder of Deborah Chong

Body in the Suitcase: The Murder of Deborah Chong is a new show from Crime + Investigation, that looks into the twists and turns of a shocking case from 2021. Stream now on Crime + Investigation Play or catch up on demand.

What is Body in the Suitcase: The Murder of Deborah Chong about?

Deborah Chong was a 67-year-old woman of Malaysian heritage who lived in the Wembley area of London. She was a vulnerable person who was diagnosed with schizophrenia but had a strong support network around her, which included neighbours and close friends from her church. In June 2021, Deborah was reported missing. Sadly, her decapitated body was found two weeks later in Salcombe, Devon, more than 200 miles away from where she disappeared.

Body in the Suitcase: The Murder of Deborah Chong takes viewers deep into the crime and examines how police used CCTV evidence to arrest Jemma Mitchell. She had an unlikely friendship with the victim that began when they met at a church group. However, a dispute over money led Mitchell to commit a gruesome crime.

What happens in the first episode of Body in the Suitcase: The Murder of Deborah Chong?

The opening episode of this two-part series first covers the very early stages of the murder investigation. It begins with the discovery of Deborah’s body in Devon before moving on to the process of identifying Mitchell as the prime suspect.

She was caught on CCTV wheeling a large blue suitcase toward Deborah’s home before being recorded again, dragging two, visibly heavy, suitcases behind her. She was also seen making the 400-mile round trip from London to Salcombe in a rented car the day before the body was found.

It then follows detectives as they build a case against Mitchell, who continually refuses to cooperate in the interrogation room. Police eventually discover that Mitchell and her mother had spent almost £250,000 on a failed home renovation project. Text messages later reveal that Deborah had generously offered to help pay for future building work, before quickly rescinding the offer.

When police find a fake will in Deborah's name, complete with a forged signature, that would leave her entire £700,000 estate to Mitchell and her mother, they believe they have found the necessary motive for murder.

Who are the expert contributors to the first episode?

Several experts, witnesses and people close to the case help to tell the story in the show’s opening episode. This includes Chief Superintendent Ben Deer with Devon and Cornwall Police who led the initial investigation. He explained that discoveries of the nature of this case are unusual within his remit.

There is also an interview with Nicky Powell, a local woman who helped Mitchell when her hire car got a flat tyre near Salcombe. Other key contributors to the episode are Devprasad Khan, a neighbour of Deborah’s who noticed a change in her behaviour in the days leading up to her disappearance, and Mark Brogan, a gas and heating engineer who was involved in a separate multi-year legal battle with Mitchell at the time of her arrest.

Experts like forensic psychologist Dr Soham Das, criminologist Dr Honor Doro Townshend, retired Chief Superintendent Parm Sandhu and retired Detective Chief Inspector Simon Harding spend time poring over the evidence to provide greater context for the viewers.

However, the most interesting interview is with Hilary Collard, Mitchell’s mother. She is convinced of her daughter’s innocence due to her personality and the lack of forensic proof found by the police.

What happens in the second episode of Body in the Suitcase: The Murder of Deborah Chong?

The second episode follows detectives as they go on the hunt for forensic evidence. They managed to collect a concrete dossier of circumstantial and digital evidence that tied Mitchell to the crime but were unable to find any DNA evidence that linked her to a crime scene. The episode moves on to cover the trial and speculates if the lack of forensic evidence could hinder the chances of a conviction.

Finally, Dr Kerri Nixon, another forensic psychologist, is brought on board to analyse the interview with Hillary Collard. Dr Nixon looks at the potential reasons why she continues to defend her daughter.

What to watch next on Crime + Investigation Play?

If you enjoyed Body in the Suitcase: The Murder of Deborah Chong then be sure to watch Bubble & Squeak Murder: The Killing of David Jackson on Crime + Investigation Play. This is another two-part true crime series that covers one of the most shocking murder cases in recent British history.