Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Nancy Kissel: The Hong Kong Milkshake Murder

The Corpse in the Rug

Map of China with Hong Kong locator
Map of China with Hong Kong locator

It was almost midnight on Nov. 6, 2003, when Hong Kong police investigators, armed with a search warrant, entered a storage room at the exclusive Parkview high-rise apartment complex. They immediately found what they were looking for behind the door—a rolled oriental rug tied with rope and bound with clear adhesive tape. A pillow and a bag filled with bed sheets and clothing were on top of the rug. The rug seemed suspiciously bulky, and when the investigators unrolled it, they found what they expected—a body.

The Parkview high-rise apartment complex
The Parkview high-rise apartment

The corpse had been sealed tight in plastic wrap, the head covered with a black plastic bag. The entire body had then been placed inside a large white plastic bag and bound with red adhesive tape. It was then rolled into the rug. The investigators knew instantly that the victim had been dead for some time; the smell of decay was too powerful for this to have been a recent death. 

David Noh
David Noh

Their search had been prompted by calls from David Noh, a vice president at the Hong Kong office of Merrill Lynch. His colleague and close friend, Robert Kissel, the head of the company's distressed asset business in Asia, had been not been heard from in four days. A friend of Kissel's, Bryna O'Shea, had called several Hong Kong hotels, looking for Kissel. He had been having marital problems, so it was possible that he had moved out of his apartment. But O'Shea had been unable to locate Kissel, so she told Noh, who then called the police, fearing that something was wrong.

Kissel, a high-flying investment banker, was a prominent member of the American expatriate community in Hong Kong. The report of his disappearance triggered an all-out search for him. Within hours of Noh's call, police investigators went to his Parkview apartment to interview his wife, Nancy Kissel. They questioned her about her husband's whereabouts and asked about a police report she had filed that morning in which she stated that her husband had assaulted her over the previous weekend after she refused to have sex with him. She said nothing about having a storeroom in another building of the complex.

Carpet in storage
Carpet in storage

That evening the police interviewed maintenance men at the apartment complex and learned that Nancy Kissel had called the management office the day before to have a rug moved to her storeroom. The workers who moved the rug told the police that it was unusually heavy and that it had taken four of them to move it. The police immediately requested a search warrant to enter the Kissels' storeroom.

Two hours after finding Robert Kissel's body, police arrested Nancy Kissel at 2:41 AM on Friday, November 7, 2003. She was charged with the murder of her husband.

Chemist Lun Tze shan
Chemist Lun Tze shan

Police pathologists examined Robert Kissel's body and determined that he'd been struck five times in the head with a blunt instrument. Tests revealed the presence of six prescription medications in Kissel's stomach, including the sedative Rohypnol, better known as the "date rape drug." Five of these drugs had been prescribed to Nancy Kissel by two different doctors in the months before her husband's death.

Nancy Kissel, who had three children with Robert Kissel and who was the sole beneficiary to his $18 million estate, maintained her innocence.

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