A Surrey man found guilty of the planned murders of four people, including his wife and step-daughter, has lost an appeal of his convictions.
A jury found Charles Eli Kembo guilty of four counts of first-degree murder in 2010. He sought to have those convictions overturned on the grounds the judge made numerous errors, including in her instructions to the jury, combining the evidence of the different murder counts and admitting prejudicial portions of a police statement and referring to that statement as a confession.
However, three justices of the Court of Appeal of B.C. dismissed Kembo’s appeal in a written decision Thursday (July 31), denying the judge made any errors.
During the initial trial in spring 2010, the court heard that Kembo had close personal relationships with all four of the people he killed, which included his wife, step-daughter, mistress and business partner – relationships prosecutors said he fostered for his own financial gain.
Kembo married his 44-year-old wife Margaret in March 2002, apparently keeping the relationship secret from his common-law partner Genevieve Camara, who he continued to live with. After Margaret’s disappearance in late December 2002, Kembo began to liquidate her assets and applied for credit cards, traded stocks and filed false tax returns in her name.
The body of Margaret Kembo was never found.
The second victim, friend and business partner Ardon Samuel, 38, was killed in the fall of 2003. He and Kembo had been friends for about 10 years and Kembo offered to help raise money for a business Samuel was starting. Kembo advised Samuel his life should be insured as a principal of the company and a high-priced policy was taken out with Kembo’s son listed as beneficiary.
Dog walkers found Samuel’s body in a Vancouver park in November 2003. He had been strangled and parts of his body were mutilated. Kembo had been using Samuel’s identity for business transactions since at least 1998, and continued to his death.
Kembo’s mistress, Sui Yin (Elvie) Ma, was asphyxiated, likely by drowning, in October 2004. Maintenance workers found her body in a hockey bag partly submerged in the Fraser River near the George Massey Tunnel.
Kembo and Ma lived in the same apartment complex when a business relationship turned sexual. A month before Ma’s death, Kembo incorporated a company in her name and as with his wife, Kembo applied for credit cards in Ma’s name after her death and attempted to set up offshore accounts in her name before and after she died.
His fourth victim, step-daughter Rita Yeung, 21, had been living with Kembo and Camara after the disappearance of Margaret Kembo (Rita’s mom). At some point, Yeung developed a sexual relationship with Kembo. Instructed by Kembo, she opened several new accounts, apparently for a student loan fraud Kembo planned.
Yeung was killed in July 2005. At the time, police were conducting surveillance on Kembo, suspecting his involvement in the three prior murders. Investigators heard the pair go to a hardware store and buy a shovel, rope, garbage bags, gloves and Drano. They drove to various locations, eventually stopping in Richmond. Surveillance picked up what sounded like a scream.
Yeung’s garbage bag-wrapped body was found three days later in the area, partially submerged in water. A shovel found nearby was determined to be the one Kembo had purchased at the hardware store.
Kembo, who is now 46, was arrested in 2005 at a Surrey condominium where he was living with a woman and her children.
In upholding his convictions in this week’s appeal court decision, Justice John Hall wrote: “I would not accede to any of the submissions of error advanced on behalf of the appellant and I would dismiss his appeals from conviction on all charges.”
Kembo made headlines in 2011 after it was discovered he had written a novel for young adults, publishing it under another name.
He is currently serving a life sentence and cannot apply for parole for another 16 years.