Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Nancy Kissel: The Hong Kong Milkshake Murder

'I'm Going to Kill You, You Bitch!'

Nancy Kissel's heartrending testimony took up the first ten days of August. She described her first attempt to ask Robert for a divorce after seeing a marriage counselor. He yelled, "If there's a divorce, you don't ask for it. I'm the one who makes the money. If there's a divorce, you don't ask for it. I ask for it!"

She went on to explain that she wasn't the only target of his rages and that sometimes he overreacted with the children, blowing up over relatively minor infractions. On one occasion, she said, her younger daughter had been playing loudly on the bed while her husband was trying to have a telephone conversation. Robert allegedly lost his patience and yanked her off the bed by the arm and broke it.

Nancy testified that she was having trouble sleeping because of the turmoil in her life. She became so despondent that she considered suicide, and even searched the Internet for a drug that would kill her but make it seem like a heart attack, so that her children wouldn't know that she had taken her own life. Based on her research, she went to several doctors, complaining of symptoms that would get her the drugs she wanted. By the end of October 2003, she had stockpiled 10 tablets of Rohypnol and 20 tablets of the painkiller Dextropropoxythene, as well as prescriptions for a sedative, an antidepressant, and a sleeping medication.

Rohypnol pills
Rohypnol pills

According to Nancy, on October 23, 2003, she and her husband had another bitter argument about divorce. Once again he lost his temper, beat her, and forced himself on her. The incident left her so distraught she consulted a pediatrician, complaining that she was so worried about her husband's behavior, she was afraid to fall asleep at night. The doctor gave her a prescription for sleeping pills.

On the morning of November 2, 2003, the entire Kissel family attended services at their synagogue. According to her testimony, that afternoon Nancy Kissel made pink milkshakes for the children. While she was in the kitchen, her husband stood in the hallway and announced that he had filed for divorce and was taking the children. He said that she wasn't fit to care for them. Nancy testified that he was holding a baseball bat, and as reported by Albert Wong in The Standard, Robert started tossing it from one hand to the other. He told Nancy that he needed the bat "for protection" from her.

Robert Kissel then walked down the hallway toward the master bedroom. Nancy testified that she followed him, demanding answers. She was carrying a heavy figurine, which she had taken from the kitchen. In the hallway, she pointed her finger in his face.

"What do you mean, you've filed for divorce?" she said.

He slapped her hand away twice, but she kept pointing at him, a habit of hers that he detested. He snatched her hand and held onto it. She struggled to break free, but he wouldn't let go. She spat in his face, and he retaliated by striking her "across the mouth," She told the court. She fell down and dropped the figurine.

Nancy Kissel testified that her husband then "pulled me into the room, threw me onto the bed and started having sex with me." She tried to fight him off, kicking him. They wrestled and "ended up on the floor." She tried to "crawl away," according to her testimony but he grabbed her by the ankles.

"'I'm not finished with you yet,'" she claimed that he said. "He wouldn't let go."

"I reached for the statue," she testified, "and I swung back. I didn't even look. I felt that I hit something."

When she looked back, she saw her husband sitting on the floor, bleeding from the head. "I tried to help him up and he wouldn't let me," she said. He dragged himself up onto the bed and sat there, stunned. When he touched his head and realized that he was bleeding, he became enraged. He picked up the bat and swung at her, hitting her in the leg and knee.

She held the statue up to her face for protection, and she felt the bat hitting metal, stinging her hands.

On the stand, a trembling Nancy Kissel fell silent. She couldn't go on. Her counsel Alexander King asked if she could tell the court anything else about the fight.

She didn't respond. 

Siu Lam Psychiatric Center
Siu Lam Psychiatric Center

Under further questioning from King, Nancy Kissel claimed that she had no other recollection of the incident or the days that followed. She vaguely recalled driving in her car the next day, but couldn't remember buying the rug that was used to conceal her husband's body as the prosecution contends. Nor could she remember cleaning up the bedroom or arranging for the removal of the rug with her husband's body in it. At the time, she said, she didn't even realize that he was dead. 

Her memory of those days "came back in little pieces" about six months later, she said, while she was incarcerated at the Siu Lam Psychiatric Center.