I felt I should dedicate this week’s piece to a Michelle Leng (Menmei Leng), a young woman, who was brutally murdered at the hands of her sadistic uncle earlier this year. Here at YOMYOMF, we have written 6 posts last year on the murder and the investigation process and we will continue to keep everyone updated. What happened to poor Michelle was horrific and various articles detailed the fear she experienced at the hands of a monster with whom she trusted. And even though I have never met Michelle whilst she was alive, following her murder case closely, allowed me to feel close to her and I felt as though I knew her, despite the circumstances.
The murder of Michelle, invoked many feelings among both the Asian and the mainstream community. Some were angry and sad (natural responses), others were saying this is all sexually motivated, some white racists insinuated that this is common within the Chinese community (as Michelle was a Chinese international student), and others didn’t really read what went on and assumed Michelle deserved it because she was tortured and killed by a white guy. They lacked reading comprehension and didn’t pick up that the murderer was her uncle by marriage.
This all happened on the 24th April, 2016. Michelle was last seen walking towards a major train station in Sydney, most likely on her way home from shopping. She was reported as missing by her family on 25th April and it wasn’t until the 29th April that her body was found, 60 miles away floating naked in the ocean. Police revealed that she had been stabbed at least 30 times in the neck, and it was clear she had defensive wounds. Further investigations revealed that the primary suspect was her uncle Derek Barrett who was 27. Derek was married to Michelle’s aunt (who was 40 years old), and they all lives together with Derek’s child and another cousin. It was stated in the media that Michelle was stripped naked, gagged, tied up and stabbed. Her body was later taken and dumped and that is what police alleged Derek did. It appeared that prior to Michelle’s murder, photos were found of Derek peaking at Michelle whilst she was in the shower, as well as him masturbating over her whilst she slept.
Where it has never been mentioned, clearly it is pretty obvious that Derek had sexual feelings towards Michelle. He is a complete sicko and has taken the whole “yellow fever” to the extreme. Michelle was a beautiful and sweet young woman, so really should we be surprised? It is interesting to note that whilst Derek was 27, he married Michelle’s aunt who was around 40. But it appears that his affections were towards his niece who was 25 and had just graduated from her studies. It also makes you wonder, was Michelle subjected to any sexual abuse prior to her death. Obviously something had to have happened, due to how frenzied the stabbing was. I don’t want to jump to any conclusions as the investigation is still going on, but it does make you wonder, don’t you agree?
The other interesting fact is that Michelle is the only daughter. Her mother Mei Zhang had to come to Australia to attend court proceedings. A few years ago, she lost her husband in an earthquake, so you can imagine how distraught and emotionally damaged Michelle’s mother is, and to see that it was a relative by marriage who is the alleged killer just makes things worse. She entrusted the safety of Michelle in another country to her family in Sydney, and that trust has been broken.
The last point I wish to raise before I conclude, is that we as the Asian diaspora need to watch out for our own. Asian women, have been time and time again victims of sexual violence and bullying by all types of men. Both Asian and non-Asian men are responsible. We need to change this culture, and as Asian women we need to both speak up and support our own. This type of murder doesn’t just happen over night, and I would bet my bottom dollar that Michelle was a victim of something. The other cringe worthy thing is, Derek Barrett pleading not guilty when he is due back in court this year. He is currently remanded in jail and is apparently not coping well. SMH….
Anyways, I will leave it here. But I will say that we need to remember Michelle and I think more will be revealed this year, as court proceedings begin. I will be following this carefully and provide updates for all of you, but please remember her and remember to watch out for one another.
May she rest in peace.