The Nancy Kissel Case - Part 3
(Associated Press) Wife tried in Hong Kong murder of U.S. banker. June 8, 2005.
A Hong Kong court on Wednesday heard a second day of opening statements in the murder trial of an American woman accused of giving her husband a sedatives-laced milkshake before beating him to death with a heavy metal ornament.
Nancy Ann Kissel, 40, has pleaded innocent in the 2003 death of Robert Kissel, who was an investment banker for Merrill Lynch.
Prosecutors allege she was having an affair, her marriage was crumbling and that the killing was premeditated murder, a crime punishable by life in prison. The defendant listened with a blank expression during two hours of opening statements on Tuesday. Prosecutor Peter Chapman continued with his opening statement Wednesday. He told the jury that the woman had an affair with a TV repairman in Vermont, where she lived briefly with her three children during the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, in Hong Kong in 2003.
The prosecutor said investment banker Robert Kissel, a native of New York, hired a private detective in the United States to check on his wife and confirmed the affair. He later consulted family lawyers and planned to divorce his wife, Chapman said. Chapman said Kissel told a friend that he feared his wife might use drugs to poison him. The prosecutor also read love letters reportedly sent by the alleged lover, Michael Del Priore, after Mrs. Kissel returned to Hong Kong. “I miss holding you and hearing you call my name,” one letter said.
Chapman said the woman was the primary beneficiary of five life insurance policies owned by her husband worth a total of $6.75 million. Chapman said the woman laced her husband’s milkshake with sedatives before killing him with a series of blows to the right side of his head in November 2003. Police found his body wrapped in plastic sheets and a carpet in an underground storeroom the couple rented near their luxury apartment.
(Reuters) Merrill banker's wife accused in murder. June 8, 2005.
The wife of a prominent Hong Kong-based American banker fed him a glass of strawberry milkshake laced with hypnotic and antidepressant drugs before clubbing him to death, a high court heard on Wednesday. Prosecutors said Robert Kissel, 40, a managing director for U.S. banking giant Merrill Lynch, had planned to tell his wife he was divorcing her, after discovering she was having an affair with a TV repairman and fearing she was plotting to harm him. Nancy Kissel, 40, who has pleaded not guilty to murder, was expressionless as prosecutor Peter Chapman accused her of clubbing her husband with a heavy metallic figurine in their bedroom on Nov. 2, 2003.
Chapman said she had earlier poisoned him with a milkshake containing a cocktail of "four types of hypnotic drugs and one antidepressant". Police found Kissel's body four days later in a storeroom that the couple rented in the luxury residential estate where they lived with their three children. Prosecutors said she disposed of the body by wrapping it in a carpet bought the day after the murder and then asking workmen on the estate to take it to the storeroom.
Kissel's murder and his wife's arrest shocked Hong Kong's expatriate and banking community and the case has again grabbed headlines since the trial opened on Tuesday.
Chapman said Kissel had become suspicious of his wife in August 2003 after installing spy software on their home laptop. Using the software, Kissel traced his wife's e-mail correspondence with her lover, a television repairman in the United States. Prosecutors said she apparently met the repairman when she returned to the United States to escape the SARS epidemic earlier in 2003.
Kissel also found that she had searched the Internet using key words such as "drug overdose." He told a private detective and a friend in the United States he was concerned his wife might be trying to harm him, Chapman said. Prosecutors said the banker had intended to tell his wife that he was filing for divorce. He had also apparently consulted lawyers about divorce and child custody arrangements. Nancy Kissel was the beneficiary of life insurance policies worth a total of $6.75 million, the court heard.
The trial is expected to last until mid-August.
(Associated Press) Hong Kong prosecutor says Michigan native killed husband. By Helen Luk. June 8, 2005.
A Michigan native accused of killing her husband asked maintenance workers at her Hong Kong luxury apartment complex to help her haul away a roll of carpet that contained the man's body, a prosecutor said Wednesday.
Prosecutor Peter Chapman alleged that 41-year-old Nancy Ann Kissel killed husband Robert Kissel on Nov. 2, 2003 -- the same day the Merrill Lynch investment banker planned to discuss the couple's divorce with his wife. Nancy Kissel is accused of drugging her husband with a milkshake laced with sedatives before fatally beating him on the head with a metal ornament. The woman, who has pleaded innocent, faces a mandatory life prison term if convicted.
A defense lawyer didn't specify where in Michigan Nancy Kissel previously lived. The prosecution alleged that she had a lover in the United States and that her husband, a New York native, had hired a private detective to investigate the affair.
Chapman, speaking on the second day of the trial's opening statements, said that the day after the alleged killing, Nancy Kissel went on a shopping spree, buying a bed, sheets and a carpet. She also told her Filipino maid not to clean the master bedroom, the prosecutor said. Three days after the alleged killing, the wife asked maintenance workers at her apartment complex to help her haul a thick roll of carpet to a storage area, Chapman said. When the maid noted that the roll seemed unusually bulky, the wife said it contained pillows and blankets, the prosecutor said. The workers who moved the carpet said it smelled like rotting fish, Chapman said.
The prosecutor said one of Robert Kissel's colleagues was the first to report the man was missing. The colleague called the wife and she said the couple had a dispute, her husband had left and she didn't know where he was. Police found the body on Nov. 6, 2003.
She later went to the police and said her husband pushed her against a wall and beat her on Nov. 2, Chapman said. The prosecutor said a doctor examined her and reported that she was tearful, visibly in pain and slow to move.
(The Herald) Widow is accused of 'milkshake murder.' By Tan Ee Lyn and Alan MacDermid. June 9, 2005.
The banker, his wife, the TV repairman and the strawberry milkshake laced with knockout drugs – it has all the makings of a classic film noir.
But the story unfolding at the high court in Hong Kong is based, allegedly, on fact.
The prosecution claims that the wife clubbed her husband to death with a statuette after feeding him a cocktail of hypnotic and anti-depressant drugs disguised in a milkshake.
Prosecutors said Robert Kissel, 40, a managing director of US banking giant Merrill Lynch, had planned to tell his wife he was divorcing her, after discovering she was having an affair with a TV repairman and fearing she was plotting to harm him. He was said to have tracked his wife's e-mail correspondence with her lover, who lived back home in the US.
Nancy Kissel, 40, who has pleaded not guilty to murder, was expressionless as Peter Chapman, prosecuting, accused her of clubbing her husband with a heavy metallic figurine in their bedroom on November 2, 2003.
Mr Chapman said she had earlier poisoned him with the milkshake. Police found Mr Kissel's body four days later in a storeroom that the couple rented in the luxury residential estate where they lived with their three children.
Prosecutors said she disposed of the body by wrapping it in a carpet bought the day after the murder and then asking workmen on the estate to take it to the storeroom.
When her maid noted that the roll seemed unusually bulky, Mrs Kissel said it contained pillows and blankets, the prosecutor said. The workers who moved the carpet said it smelled like rotting fish, he added.
Mr Kissel's murder and his wife's arrest shocked Hong Kong's expatriate and banking community and the case has again grabbed headlines since the trial opened on Tuesday.
Mr Chapman said Mr Kissel had become suspicious of his wife in August 2003 after installing spy software on their home laptop. Using the software, Mr Kissel traced his wife's e-mail correspondence with her lover, a television repairman in the US whom she had apparently met when she returned home to escape the Sars epidemic earlier in 2003.
Mr Kissel also found that she had searched the internet using key words such as "drug overdose". He told a private detective and a friend in the US he was concerned his wife might be trying to harm him, Mr Chapman said.
Speaking on the second day of the trial's opening statements, he said that the day after the alleged killing, Mrs Kissel went on a shopping spree, buying a bed, sheets and a carpet.
Mrs Kissel was the beneficiary of life insurance policies worth a total of £3.69m, the court heard.
The trial is expected to last until mid-August.
(The Standard) Wife 'plotted for months' By Albert Wong. June 9, 2005.
A vindictive unfaithful spouse plotted her wealthy banker husband's murder for months, concocting a cocktail of drugs to leave Robert Kissel unconscious and defenseless as he was battered to death, the High Court heard.
Senior Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions Peter Chapman completed his opening speech to the seven-member jury Wednesday, detailing what the prosecution claims was the wife's plot to drug and murder the banker and cover up her actions with a clumsy alibi and an attempt to hide the corpse.
Nancy Kissel, 40, who is on bail, is standing trial for the murder of her husband on November 2, 2003, at their luxurious home in Parkview, Tai Tam. She has pleaded not guilty.
The prosecution says she tried to save herself by wrapping the corpse in a sleeping bag, carpet and plastic film, disposing of blood-stained items by packing them in boxes and claiming her drunken husband had assaulted her before disappearing. Her actions show the killing was premeditated, claims the prosecution, which alleges Nancy Kissel was having an affair with a TV repairman in the United States and the couple's marriage had become one of suspicion and betrayal.
The picture painted by the prosecution is one of cold calculation on the part of the accused followed by panic to cover up the crime.
"E-blaster'' spyware secretly installed on Nancy Kissel's Sony Vaio laptop by her suspicious husband, recorded that on August 28, 2003, she made an Internet search for "Sleeping pills. Overdose medication causing heart attack. Drug overdose,'' the prosecution said.
On October 23, she made another search, this time for Rohypnol, the so-called "date rape'' drug, and one of four sedatives and an anti-depressant found in the deceased, according to Chapman.
In the last few hours of his life, on the afternoon of Sunday, November 2, Robert Kissel was chatting with friend and neighbor Andrew Tanzer.
According to Chapman, Tanzer, who will later testify in court, said he was "barely aware the accused had been in the apartment,'' until she emerged from the kitchen to offer them milkshakes.
After Tanzer drank the pink milkshake, he asked Nancy Kissel what was in it. She replied: "It's a secret recipe.'' A short time later, Tanzer's wife noticed he seemed overly sleepy, said Chapman. The strange symptoms "continued well into the evening,'' which worried Tanzer's wife. When Tanzer awoke the next morning, he was ``confused about the events after he had drunk the milkshake.''
According to the prosecution, David Noh, a close friend of Robert Kissel and a colleague at Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch, phoned him at 5pm that Sunday to remind him of a conference call later that night. During that conversation, Robert Kissel was vague, "incoherent, tired and sleepy,'' said Chapman. "David Noh never spoke to Robert Kissel again.''
At 5.58pm, telephone records suggest that the banker made one last call to his secretary, said Chapman. A call was made from his mobile phone to his wife's mobile the next morning, but "by this time of course Robert Kissel was dead.''
Noh knew that Robert Kissel was supposed to discuss divorce proceedings with his wife - whose infidelity he had uncovered - that night. Noh tried to contact him, especially after he failed to attend the conference call, said Chapman. Later that night, Noh got through to Nancy Kissel who said her husband had got drunk and beaten her up. Noh was not convinced, said Chapman, since he knew Robert Kissel was not in the habit of taking drugs or excessive alcohol.
The next day, November 3, Nancy Kissel instructed her domestic helpers not to clear up the master bedroom and went on a shopping spree for furniture items, cushions, bedspreads and rugs.
The court heard her Visa card invoice showed she had visited several furniture stores. She also inquired about hiring an extra storeroom in the couple's luxury Parkview building but was told the family already had one: room 15112, block 15. She also allegedly ordered cartons from a relocation firm, which she used to pack away incriminating items.
On November 5, a domestic helper was told to clear the storeroom to create space for an old carpet and other items. When four Parkview maintenance staff came to help remove the old carpet, they could not lift it and had to use two carts to transport it to the storeroom. According to Chapman, one of the men returned to collect the moving fee and remarked that a "strong odor''came from the carpet. Nancy Kissel ignored the comment, he said.
On November 6, she and her father went to the police station to report that her husband had assaulted her on the night of November 2 after she refused to have sex with him. Barely hours after she had filed the assault claim, Noh filed a missing persons report on Robert Kissel. Later that night, police investigators discovered through Parkview management, that there had been activity regarding room 15112, block 15.
At 10.50pm, they interviewed Nancy Kissel in her apartment and she denied having an extra storeroom, said Chapman. The officers told her they intended to search the house and she responded by requesting a private conversation with her father first. After about two minutes, he said, officers at the scene told investigators, her father cried out: "Oh my God, I don't believe it.'' She then delivered the keys, said Chapman, and the officers opened the storeroom.
The trial continues today and is expected to last until mid-August.
(The Standard) 'Doped, bludgeoned, then wrapped in rug' By Albert Wong. June 9, 2005.
The fingerprints of Nancy Kissel, accused of murdering her husband, Robert, were found on the sticky side of tape used to seal boxes containing blood-stained items, the High Court was told Wednesday.
Senior assistant director of public prosecutions Peter Chapman told the seven-member jury that when police officers conducted a thorough search of the Kissel apartment in Parkview on November 8, they found four boxes containing bedding, tissues, pillows and the clothing belonging to both Robert and Nancy Kissel - all of which were stained with blood.
Forensic scientists later confirmed the DNA of the blood matched that of Robert Kissel, a former Merrill Lynch banker, and that his wife's left thumb print had been found on the tape used to seal the boxes, Chapman said.
Nancy Kissel denies the murder charge.
The prosecution also said the post mortem confirmed that Kissel had been drugged and was probably defenseless when bludgeoned to death with a heavy metal ornament. In outlining how the police came to suspect the wife, Chapman used graphic photos to reveal the extent of the injuries inflicted on the banker.
When storeroom 15112 in block 15 of Parkview was opened, there was "a strong smell of a decomposing body,'' Chapman said. Inside the room, police found a rolled-up carpet which, from its wrapping and packaging, aroused suspicion. The carpet was sent to forensics.
A managing director at Merrill Lynch, Anthony Hung, confirmed the corpse found in the carpet was that of Robert Kissel. When the body was unwrapped from the rug and the sleeping bag, the deceased was wearing a white T-shirt and underpants - clothes which the family's domestic helpers said he normally wore in bed.
According to the prosecution, the pathologist confirmed there were severe lacerations to the right side of the head which resulted in ``massive spillage of brain substance.'' Lab tests found five types of hypnotics and anti-depressants in Kissel's stomach and liver, which would have impaired consciousness during the attack, Chapman said. No sign of defensive injury was found on the body, and the chemist found "insignificantly low'' amounts of alcohol, he said.
Police searching the residence found blood stains and specks on items in the master bedroom, where the defendant is accused of inflicting the fatal blows. Among the blood-stained items found in the sealed boxes was a metal ornament comprising of two figurines on a metal base, believed to have been the murder weapon. The two figurines had been detached from the base "as a result of the force required'' to bludgeon the victim, Chapman said. When attached, the ornament could be used "like a hammer head.''
Nancy Kissel was arrested at 2.41am on November 7 after having been taken to Ruttonjee Hospital for a check up. She was diagnosed to be suffering from emotional distress and was trembling, crying and unable to talk. Doctors found abrasions on her lip, chest and knees. Her palms were red and there was bruising on her forearms and shoulders. Blood samples revealed she was suffering from muscle injuries, the result of vigorous exercise. The prosecution alleges this was due to "the considerable effort in wrapping the body with the carpet - and placing the body in the rug.''
Mrs Kissel said that she had been assaulted by her drunken husband on November 2 when she had refused to have sex with him.
Mr Kissel's sister, Jane Clayton, was the first to give evidence Wednesday and confirmed that Nancy Kissel is named as the primary beneficiary in her brother's will. When asked to confirm that the woman in the dock and in the pictures was Nancy Kissel, she was visibly distressed and close to tears. She estimated the value of Robert Kissel's estate to be around US$18 million (HK$140.4 million), including stocks, cash, life insurance and real estate. Clayton said she had been aware of the marital deterioration but ``Robbie thought if he tried harder he could fix things up and make everything better.''
The trial continues today.
(SCMP) Wife 'served banker secret recipe'. By Polly Hui. June 9, 2005.
The wife of a top American banker served her husband and a neighbour spiked strawberry milkshakes made with her "secret recipe" before murdering her spouse, a court heard yesterday.
Government laboratory tests identified four types of hypnotics and an anti-depressant in the stomach of Robert Peter Kissel, 40, after his body was found rolled up in a carpet in a storeroom of Parkview, Tai Tam, in November 2003, according to government prosecutor Peter Chapman.
The prosecutor alleged that Nancy Ann Kissel, 40, handed her husband and neighbour Andrew Tanzer, two large glasses of pink milkshake while their children were playing in their luxury flat on November 2.
When Mr Tanzer asked what was in the drink, Kissel replied that it was a "secret recipe", the Court of First Instance was told.
When Mr Tanzer returned home his wife noticed that his face was red and he seemed tired, Mr Chapman said. She became concerned and shouted at him after he lay on the couch for 20 minutes.
David Noh, a colleague and good friend of Robert Kissel, said the banker sounded incoherent and very tired when he last spoke to him on the phone on the afternoon of that Sunday, Mr Chapman said.
The prosecution also alleged that a spyware program installed on a laptop in the flat also revealed that Kissel had searched websites on the use of sleeping pills and Rohypnol, a nervous-system depressant.
Kissel, who faced the second day of a two-month jury trial yesterday, has pleaded not guilty to murdering her husband on or about November 3, 2003.
The court was told that in the few days following the alleged murder, Kissel embarked on a cover-up plan - including buying two carpets from furniture store Tequila Kola and ordering 29 cartons from a relocation company. She asked a maid to buy a rope that she subsequently used to tie up the old carpet rolled-up in the living room, the prosecution alleged.
Mr Chapman also alleged that Kissel hired four men from the housekeeping office of Parkview to move the rolled-up carpet to a rented storeroom a few blocks from her flat. The workers allegedly said that "some smell came from the carpet, similar to salted fish". They also said the carpet was too heavy when they tried to lift it and they had to use trolleys.
The court heard that Kissel, accompanied by her father Ira Keeshin, who arrived in Hong Kong from the US on November 5, 2003, reported to the police in November 6 that her husband had earlier assaulted her and said she did not know his whereabouts.
But when police investigators visited the Parkview flat on the same day, she denied having rented a storeroom and refused to hand over the keys before finally submitting to their requests, the prosecution alleged. At one point Kissel began to weep and her father said: "Oh my God. I don't believe it."
The police also discovered in four sealed carton boxes a metal base and two figurines - which together allegedly constituted the heavy ornament Kissel used to kill her husband. Body tissues of the deceased were identified on one of the figurines. Pieces of bloodstained clothing were also retrieved from the boxes.
Jane Clayton, the dead man's younger sister, told the court that she found the accused very distant when she met Kissel on a family skiing trip in 2002.
The case continues today before Mr Justice Michael Lunn.
Here are some additional details from the Chinese-language media:
(photos: Apple Daily, The Sun, Sing Pao, The Sun)
(photos: The Sun, Apple Daily)