Accused killed 4 to steal their IDs, get rich, trial told
Accused gained hundreds of thousands of dollars, Crown says
Tamsyn Burgmann, The Canadian Press
Published On Wed Oct 14 2009
VANCOUVERA man on trial for the murder of four people he knew intimately killed so he could use their identities to fuel his self-styled image as a rich, successful businessman, prosecutors say.
Charles Kembo is accused of murdering his wife, stepdaughter, girlfriend and business partner over a period of more than two years, starting in early 2003.
Crown prosecutor Jennifer Oulton told B.C. Supreme Court on Tuesday the accused used their personal information to obtain credit cards, bank accounts, companies and a life insurance policy totalling hundreds of thousands of dollars for his own gain.
“On each occasion, Mr. Kembo either benefited or was poised to benefit financially from the murders, and these situations or opportunities for Mr. Kembo to profit were set up ahead of time by him,” she told the 12-member jury.
She alleged Kembo was able to fly below the radar for so long because each of his victims were “low net worth people,” although the value of assuming their identities was worth much more.
Kembo, who came to Canada from Malawi in 1989 as a government-sponsored refugee, was able to perpetrate the frauds “because he gained the trust of the victims before he murdered them,” she said.
Kembo, 41, has been in custody since his arrest in July 2005.
The first alleged victim, Kembo's wife Margaret Kembo, vanished at the end of December 2002.
Her body has never been found, a fact that Oulton suggested enabled Kembo to use her identity the longest and collect at least $220,000.
Ardon Samuel, 38, was strangled in November 2003 and found buried under leaves in a Vancouver park.
A $850,000 life insurance policy made out in his name listed Kembo's son, who was 3 at the time, as beneficiary, the Crown prosecutor said.
A year later, the body of 55-year-old Sui Yin Ma, Kembo's girlfriend, was found inside a hockey bag in a slough in suburban Richmond, B.C. An autopsy found her death was consistent with drowning or suffocation.
The body of Kembo's stepdaughter Rita Yeung, 20, was found in July 2005 in water, wearing only a bra and wrapped in garbage bags, with chemical burns on her face.
It's expected the trial could last six to eight months.