The Nancy Kissel Case - Part 1

In the English-language blogosphere of Hong Kong, there is considerable interest in the Nancy Kissel case (most notably Flying Chair and SimonWorld).  There is also considerable frustration about the lack of press coverage, in spite of the bloggers' sense of great interest among the ex-pat community.  This week, pre-trial hearings are being held with light press coverage.  As far as the Chinese-language press coverage, it is non-existent at this time.

For those who are coming across this matter (note: the incident took place in November 2003) only now, it is hard to find out about the details.  Google may only lead you to this very terse Reuters story:

The wife of a Merrill Lynch banker found dead in Hong Kong last week was charged with murder, a spokeswoman for the local judiciary said.  "She is still in hospital so the court case has been adjourned to November 14," the spokeswoman said.

American Nancy Kissel was arrested last Friday after her husband Robert Kissel - managing director of Merrill Lynch's global principal investments in Hong Kong - was found dead.  Police said at the time of her arrest that she was "emotionally unstable".

Kissel, who died of head injuries, was found "wrapped in a carpet and plastic sheets" in an underground storeroom in the couple's luxury apartment estate, police said last week.  The American banker had been dead for between three and four days before his body was found, police said.

For the sake of filling in this piece of history, this is what was reported in local Chinese-language newspapers The Sun, Oriental Daily and Apple Daily in November, 2003.  This will be informative for those who were not around at that time, or did not pay too much attention, or forgot what happened.

In what follows below, the photograph of the carpet and the three illustrations came from The Sun.  Please bear in mind that The Sun is targeted towards the lower-middle class in Hong Kong and therefore the presentation is a lot more raw than typically found in the English-language upper-class newspapers South China Morning Post and The Standard.  The presentations look to be based upon information supplied by police sources.  It may or may not be fair, balanced or accurate, but it is public in the sense of having been published in three newspapers with combined daily circulation of well over 1 million copies.  There are some minor discrepancies among the newspapers in some minor details (e.g. was it 11am or noon when Nancy Kissel went to the Western District police station?), but they are generally consistent with each other.

(November 8, 2003)

At Tai Tam's Hong Kong Parkview apartment complex, a case of murder was uncovered.  An American managing director at Merrill Lynch named Robert Peter Kissel was believed to have been murdered on November 4th in his sleep when his wife used a golf club to hit his head repeatedly.  His body was then wrapped with plastic wrap like a "mummy" and then rolled up in a carpet.  The wife was even bold enough to ask the building service workers to transport the carpet-wrapped body into a basement storage room. 

This case was uncovered yesterday morning.  The initial belief was that the deceased was involved in an extramartial affair and then assaulted his wife when after an argument over it, leading to the eventual murder.

The deceased, Robert Peter Kissel, is 40 years old and had arrived in Hong Kong from America for many years.  He and his wife Nancy Kissel rented an apartment unit in the seventeenth stage of the Hong Kong Parkview complex.  Kissel is well-known in the financial sector.  He joined Merrill Lynch from Goldman Sachs more than three years ago, and managed global investments.

According to the police, Robert Kissel had not been to work for a few days.  On Thursday, his colleague telephoned his wife to inquire and found her responses suspicious.  At 4pm on that day, a colleague reported the matter at the Western District police station and investigators were sent to speak to Nancy Kissel at the Hong Kong Parkview. 

She said that on the morning of Tuesday (November 2), she and her husband had an argument over personal matters.  She was physically assaulted and her husband left home and has not returned since.  She also claimed that she had just gone to the Western District police station to report her husband for physical abuse just before the investigators came.

The investigators called the officer-on-duty at the police station and confirmed that Nancy Kissel filed a report at 11am, and the police advised her to go to the Queen Mary Hospital for examination.  She went there for a medical examination, but then disappeared afterwards.  At the time, the police assumed that she did not want to pursue the matter anymore.

Overall, the investigators were suspicious about the behavior of Nancy Kissel.  Due to the important status of Robert Kissel, the police sent a large squad of police officers to search the area around the Hong Kong Parkview as well as speaking to the building service workers.

Right before midnight, one of the building service workers recalled that Nancy Kissel had called the manager's office on Wednesday and asked for help to transport a large item to a basement storage room that the Kissels had rented in the fifteenth stage of the apartment complex.  The service worker said, "It seemed to be a carpet, and it was very heavy!"  After finding this sudden clue, the investigators spoke to Nancy Kissel again and the murder was then uncovered.

According to information, Robert Kissel was having an extramarital affair.  After admitting it to his wife around 2pm on Sunday and then demanding a divorce, Robert Kissel had a loud argument with his wife and then Nancy Kissel was physically assaulted by someone.  On Tuesday night, after Robert Kissel fell asleep, someone used a golf club to hit his head five times and he died with his brain matter spewing out.  [Note: The peculiar language of referring to that 'someone' is characteristic for press coverage in Hong Kong for such situations]

At just after midnight, the investigators went into the storage room and found the body of Robert Kissel behind the door.  His body was sealed with plastic wrap with a black plastic bag over the head.  The body was then wrapped with a big white plastic bag which was sealed with red adhesive tape.  The body was then rolled up in a large carpet which was then tied with transparent adhesive tape.  The investigators also recovered a bloody pillow case, bedsheets and some clothing.

The body was sent to the morgue for examination.  According to the forensic doctor, the skull of the deceased had been fractured.  Further analysis will be done to determine if the deceased had been drugged.  The time of death was estimated to be three to four days, and the body had begun to rot and exude odor.

Nancy Kissel has been arrested on suspicion of murder.  Due to emotional instability, she was sent to the pyschiatric ward at the Eastern District hospital for observation.  This case is being treated as a homicide case, and is being investigated by the major crime squad of the Western District police district.

(Text accompanying the three illustrations)
Illustration #1: Foreign woman kills husband.  The deceased was struck in the head by his wife with a golf club.  The woman used a golf club of this type to perpetuate the crime)
Illustration #2: The female used plastic sheets to wrap the body from head to feet, a black plastic bag for the head and then a carpet for the body.
Illustration #3: After she committed the crime, she called the building workers for assistance to transport a 'heavy object' to the storage room.

Link to The Nancy Kissel case - Part 2

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