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Tributes have today been paid to a churchgoing pensioner whose decapitated body was found more than 200 miles from her London home.
Mee Kuen Chong, 67, was found dead in woods near Salcombe in Devon on Sunday, after initially going missing from her Wembley home more than a fortnight ago.
Police, who are treating her death as ‘unexplained’, say Ms Chong’s body was found without her head.
Officers believe her body had been there for ‘some days’ before being discovered by a dog-walker.
Today Devon and Cornwall Police refused to give any more details about the investigation – including whether or not Ms Chong’s head had been recovered.
Meanwhile, detectives in London were today seen leaving the pensioner’s semi-detached home in Wembley.
Neighbours say Ms Chong, also known as ‘Deborah’, shared the two-storey home with a lodger.
Above the door of the property, in a quiet residential street, two religious crosses are carved into stones along with the words ‘Agape selfless love for all.’
One local resident, who did not want to be identified, said: ‘We knew her well, as you would any neighbour. She’s a member of a church, very religious.
Mee Kuen Chong, 67, was found dead in woods near Salcombe in Devon on Sunday, after going missing from her Wembley home more than a fortnight earlier
Police at the scene where Ms Chong was found dead in woods near Salcombe in Devon on Sunday
Ms Chong lived in a property in Wembley, north west London, but was found dead 200 miles away in Devon
‘She would come round for tea, have a chat, she was regularly in conversation with my wife. We were shocked to find out she was dead.’
The man described Ms Chong as ‘eccentric’, ‘but pleasant’. He also said Ms Chong had difficulty walking.
He added: ‘She’s never gone missing before. She doesn’t go away at all. You wonder how someone who was struggling to walk managed to get down to Devon.
‘Finding out about the manner in which she was found is scary, not knowing whether that happened here or there or what.’
‘I understand the police have to keep things quiet, but to not know what happened to a neighbour is scary.’
Beryl Creary, 87, another neighbour, said: ”We just talked and would say “hello”.
‘She was a church fanatic. She did singing in her house. She had lived here for quite a while; it was about 20 years. I have lived here for about 40 years. I don’t know is she had any family or anything.’
She added: ‘She was quite pleasant; she would call you when she was walking by and stop to talk. She wasn’t one of those selfish people.
‘She didn’t look like the sort of person who would get into things. We’re living in a funny world, aren’t we? How sad.’
Shabina Akram, 42, who lives opposite, described her death as ‘A horrible shock’, while another neighbour, who wished to remain anonymous, said: ‘She kept very much herself to herself.
The police investigation will switch to her London home 220 miles away from where the grey-haired pensioner was found. Pictured left and right, Ms Chong
‘We moved here in 2004 and I think maybe she was roughly the same time and she spoke, was very welcoming, and after that she hardly ever spoke to us.
‘She kept herself to herself. There was, over a short period, some work going on at the house, but I never inquired as to why or what for.
‘I didn’t even know she was missing until a policeman knocked on the door yesterday and said this lady has been missing since June 10.
‘I hope they get to the bottom of it quite quickly.’
The incident has so far been described as an ‘unexplained death’ and a police source has confirmed that the body was found without a head.
A spokesman said: ‘Enquiries remain ongoing into an unexplained death after a body was found in a wooded area near Bennett Road, Salcombe, on Sunday June 27.
‘A number of enquiries will be carried out in Salcombe over the coming days, and it is likely that the local community will continue to see a high level of police activity.’
It comes as one woman staying in a holiday home near where Ms Chong’s body was found said a lot of people were ‘frightened’ following the discovery.
The woman, who gave her name as ‘Diane’, said: ‘I don’t think many people know much about it yet – but it has frightened a lot of people. For Salcombe, something like this is really shocking.
‘We’ve been coming here for years, and it’s the kind of place where you can just let your kids wander down to the shops, and feel safe about it.
‘And that woodland, you get people walking their dogs there all the time, at any time of day – even when it’s dark. It is really frightening.’
Homeowner Chris Allen, 55, who lets out his house on Devon Road to holidaymakers, described the incident as ‘macabre’, and said there was ‘a weird feeling’ among people on the street.
He said: ‘It just seems really strange that we have been given so little information so far. We all seem to know so little.
‘This area is very popular with holidaymakers – we’re actually letting out our house next week. So there is definitely a weird feeling about it all.
The incident has so far been described as an ‘unexplained death’ and a police source has confirmed that the body was found without a head. Pictured, the scene
‘Police have asked us if we have seen or heard anything suspicious over the last couple of weeks – which implies the body might have been there for a while.
‘But if that’s the case, it seems strange that it wasn’t found sooner – there are so many dog walkers that walk through there every day.’
Mr Allen added: ‘We’re not even sure who it was that found the body.
‘I have spoken to a few people who actually live around here, but you must get around 30 or 40 dog walkers going through that part of the woodland every morning.’
Det Supt Ben Deer from Devon and Cornwall Police said: ‘The investigation is ongoing at the scene. It’s being treated as unexplained at this time and we remain open minded.’
He said police do not know when she died, her movements between June 10 and when she was found on June 27 – or the circumstances leading up to her death.
He said: ‘We are looking to understand her movements between June 10 and June 27 when she was found.
‘We would appeal for witnesses and we would look for anyone to come forward with information quoting crime reference number 700 on June 27th by ringing 101 or contacting us on Crimestoppers.’