Header image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Originally published by Amanda Sheppard. Last updated by Ngai Yeung.
Most Hongkongers sleep safe in the knowledge that they live in one of the world’s safest cities. But that does not mean that Hong Kong has not seen its fair share of tragedy. Here are some of the worst murders on record that shook the city to its very core.
One of Hong Kong’s two confirmed serial killers (a very low number, thankfully, given our large population), Lam Kor-wan is the reason why we text our friends and families or send images of taxi license plates when we’re going home alone in the early hours of the morning. Lam was apprehended in 1982 and charged with the murder of four women, whom he strangled after they rode alone in his taxi. Often referred to as “The Jars Killer,” Lam as had a penchant for storing the reproductive organs of his victims in plastic containers. He was finally arrested after he sent in graphic photos of one of his victims for development at Hong Kong Kodak shop, where the clerk notified the police.
In 1985, British teenage couple Nicola Myers and Kenneth McBride went for a walk around the Braemar Hill countryside after school, hoping to find a quiet spot to study for their A-Level examinations. It was there that they met their tragic fate, as a group of five triad members aged between 16 and 24 committed heinously violent crimes that resulted in robbery, assault, and the couple’s eventual murders. A citywide search began for the assailants, and more than 10,000 people were interviewed. All five were apprehended and charged after an anonymous triad provided the name of Pang Shun-yee, said to be the group’s leader. He remains in prison today, serving a life sentence.
In 1999, nightclub hostess Fan Man-yee was abducted by three men and taken to an apartment on Tsim Sha Tsui’s Granville Road. It was here that she was held for one month while being repeatedly beaten and tortured for what her assailants later described to be an issue relating to an unsettled debt. After Fan’s death, her body was dismembered and her head stuffed into a giant Hello Kitty doll. Prosecutors were unable to charge the three men (aged between 21 and 34) of murder owing to a lack of evidence. All were sentenced to life imprisonment for manslaughter.
Hong Kong’s only other confirmed serial killer wreaked havoc on the Tuen Mun and Hung Hom communities for more than 16 months in the early 1990s. Lam Kwok-wai was arrested in 1993 and later convicted of the rape of 10 women and three murders. He was caught thanks to the bravery of his last living victim, who arranged to meet him in a public space with police lying in wait. He is currently serving 11 consecutive life sentences. Wow.
Investment banker Robert Kissel was murdered in his Parkview home by his wife, Nancy, in November 2003. Kissel asked one of her children to pass their father a milkshake, which she had laced with drugs. A sedated Kissel was then bludgeoned to death. His body was hidden in a rug before being transported into a storage facility in the Parkview compound. Stories of the “Milkshake Murder” swept through the city and it quickly became one of the most high-profile cases in Hong Kong history. In a tragic twist of fate, Robert’s brother Andrew was murdered in his home in Connecticut three years later. The brothers’ murders later became the subject of a television movie, The Two Mr Kissels.
Glory Chau and Moon Siu were victims of one of the city’s most gruesome murders to date. In 2013, their youngest son Henry (then aged 28), alongside his friend Angus Tse, stood accused of murdering his parents and dismembering their bodies. Parts were found stored in containers in the fridge and were said to have been cooked and disguised as char siu. Chau eventually confessed to his friends via a WhatsApp group after being questioned by police and was later convicted of murder, though Tse was cleared of both charges.
Wan Chai’s red-light reputation took on a sinister spin in 2014 when British investment banker Rurik Jutting stood accused of the murders of two Indonesian women—Sumarti Ningsih and Seneng Mujiasih (known as Jesse Lorena). Lorena was found on the floor of Jutting’s Wan Chai apartment, badly beaten and wounded, and Ningsih’s remains were later found by police in a suitcase on the balcony of his luxury apartment. In 2018, Jutting’s appeal was dismissed by the Court of Final Appeal, after just eight minutes of deliberation.
In a case so bizarre it caught international attention, a university professor murdered his wife and youngest daughter using yoga balls. Khaw Kim-sun has been convicted and sentenced to life in prison for placing two leaking yoga balls (filled with toxic carbon monoxide gas) in the trunk of his wife’s car. The victims were found by a passing jogger. His motive is said to stem from an affair that began with a student and he had intended to solely inherit properties held jointly with his wife.
Weeks after Cheung Man-li’s girlfriend reported him missing, the police found his body lying in a flat in Tsuen Wan, stuffed in a box encased in cement. The trio of suspects immediately fled to Taiwan but was sent back to Hong Kong after a coordinated effort. During the dramatic trial, the motive was revealed to be a money dispute, and the three suspects pointed fingers at each other. In the end, Keith Lau and Cheung Sin-hang—both in their twenties—were sentenced to 17 years to prison for manslaughter.