November 2, 2003
Hong Kong, China
Nancy Kissel drugs and bludgeons her husband Robert to death
Nancy and Robert had moved with their children from New York to Hong Kong due to his work, though Nancy and the children moved back to the States briefly during a SARS outbreak. While Nancy was back in the US, she began a relationship with another man and the two kept in correspondence when she returned to Hong Kong.
Robert suspected Nancy’s infidelity and read an incriminating e-mail between the paramours after installing spy software on their computer. He reportedly addressed the finding with Nancy and informed her of his plan to begin filing for divorce, which started an argument on November 2.
According to the prosecution, Nancy feared she would lose her “luxurious lifestyle” — which included a $20,000/month apartment and two full-time maids — should the divorce be finalized. She laced a milkshake with a variety of prescription medication, including flunitrazepam, a sedative used to treat insomnia. (Flunitrazepam is also known as Rohypnol, the so-called “date rape drug.”) After drugging the milkshake, the prosecution stated, Nancy had her 6-year-old daughter serve the milkshake to Robert to ensure he would drink it as he was likely suspicious she would try to poison him. Once Robert was incapacitated, Nancy beat him over the head five times with a heavy lead ornament.
Nancy told her maids not to clean the master bedroom while she went shopping for carpet and bed linens. Three days after the murder, Nancy had movers remove a rolled-up carpet. The carpet was noted to be thicker than normal which Nancy explained was due to old blankets and pillows rolled inside. She did not offer an explanation for the “strong fishy smell” the carpet exuded, however. Nancy also informed police her husband had beaten and abandoned her.
Robert’s decomposing body was found in a rented storage room and led to Nancy’s arrest. She denied killing her husband at first, but changed her story to one of self-defense. In her testimony, Nancy alleged her marriage was strained due to Robert’s use of cocaine and alcohol, his mistreatment of their children, and the physical abuse she experienced, including rough sex with her that left her with a broken rib on one occasion. Nancy further stated she and Robert did argue over the impending divorce, but both physically lashed out at the other, with Robert hitting Nancy with a baseball bat and she hitting him with the lead ornament.
Due to the manner in which Nancy attempted to conceal her crime, her self-defense plea failed; she was convicted of murdering Robert and was given a mandatory life sentence. In 2018, she lost a bid to be given a timeframe of when she may be eligible for early release, a bid in which she cited the “inhumane” conditions of not having a possible release date to look toward.
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“Nancy Kissel parole bid tossed aside.” The Standard. May 18, 2018. Accessed: November 2, 2019. http://www.thestandard.com.hk/breaking-news.php?id=107661&sid=4
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Ni, Ching-Ching. “Hong Kong Murder Trial Ends.” Los Angeles Times. September 2, 2005. Accessed: November 2, 2019. https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-2005-sep-02-fg-chimurder2-story.html