In the 90s, Hong Kong had plenty of gang violence, with gangsters like "Big Spender" and "Teeth Dog" gaining notoriety for their criminal operations. These gangs were bolder than ever, and they regularly appeared on the papers following their attacks and robberies.
However, even in the midst of all this violence, the "Hello Kitty Murder" stood out. The murder got its name because the murder victim's head was found stuffed inside a Hello Kitty doll in May 1999.
The head belonged to a 23-year-old nightclub worker named Fan Man-yee. Before her head was found, she had been taken by the triads, held captive in a flat, and tortured for over a month before she has died.
Fan had been abandoned by her family as a kid, and she had to be raised in a shelter. She also started using drugs, and she turned into an addict by the time she was a teenager. At one point, she had to use prostitution to finance her unhealthy habit.
At 23, she was still an addict, but she managed to get a job at a nightclub.
Why Did They Kill Her?
Apparently, Fan had made the mistake of stealing 4,000 Hong Kong dollars from one of the triads, a man known as Chan Man-lok. Chan was a drug lord, and Fan had gotten the money after taking his wallet.
Chan had met Fan two years earlier at the nightclub. Since Chan dealt drugs and worked as a pimp, and Fan battled addiction and worked as a prostitute, the two had plenty in common.
In fact, she stole his wallet while desperate for money and drugs. She did not know that she had taken money from the wrong person.
The 36-year-old and his two colleagues, Leung Wai-Hun and Leung Shing-Cho, took Fan and intended to force her to work as a prostitute until all the money and the interest was repaid.
The plan quickly changed after the trio got high on meth when they began torturing their prisoner.
When the men were later caught, they were given life in prison. During the ruling, the judge said that not even Hong Kong had heard of such cruelty, callousness, brutality, and violence.
The media was all over the case, and the most horrifying aspects of the crime were explored in detail in the papers. Today, people are still not sure what exactly happened to the unfortunate woman.
Did Hong Kong's 1990s Violence Lead To The Hello Kitty Murder?
Power was about to change hands in Hong Kong, and that might largely explain why there was so much violence in Hong Kong in the 90s, even if it does not fully explain the Hello Kitty Murder.
The British were about to hand over the colony back to China in 1997.
The general concern was that there would be relative freedom to make some quick money during the period the Chinese stepped in.
During this period that gangsters like Yip Kai-foon, or "Teeth Dog," committed their crimes using an AK-47. Many would follow his example, and triads brought shooters from China to help with their raids on jewelry stores.
These shooters were fearless and had less to worry about. They were also cheap, which is why the raids increased dramatically.
"Big Spender" also rose to notoriety during this period. He was famous for kidnaping a tycoon's son and getting 2 billion Hong Kong dollars as ransom. There was also a rivalry between the triads as they tried to take control of Macau's casinos.
These antics were evident in Hong Kong cinema, with the triads making their own films. Directors and actors were often regularly threatened into working with these gangsters.
For instance, a film like The Tragic Fantasy – Tiger of Wanchai (1994) was based on real-life triad members. Young and Dangerous (1996) were also based on gang violence, and it was heavily criticized for it. However, the film was still quite famous and even inspired a series and spin-offs.
A Girl's Nightmare Helped Unearth The Murder
Some experts believe that the Hello Kitty Murder represented the realities of a violent decade. It is possible that a generation that had grown around violence and films that often glorified it came to see brutality as something that had a place in society.
However, the Hello Kitty Murder was a little unusual since drug use was involved.
According to experts, people can get aggressive when high on drugs for long periods of time, especially when inadequate sleep is involved. The paranoia and increased irritability can result in bizarre and horrifying behaviors.
The crime came to light after a 14-year-old girl went to the police in May 1999 with a complaint. Apparently, she had recurrent nightmares of a woman who had been tortured and murdered in Granville Road flat.
The nightmare had haunted her for several weeks. In the nightmare, the woman was tied with electrical wires and getting tortured to death.
However, when she said that she played a role in her murder, the police were instantly curious about the story. When the police did some digging, they found that the girl knew what she was saying.
The young girl, Ah Fong, was Chan's girlfriend at the time Fan was being tortured to death. During the horrors Fan faced, she apparently also hit her in the head because she felt "it was fun."
Fan Suffered So Much Abuse That Experts Couldn't Determine Her Cause Of Death
In addition to being dismembered, Fan's body was abused in so many ways that the police could not tell the real reason the young woman had died. Fan had been beaten, raped, burnt, and forced to eat human waste.
The woman was tortured until she eventually died, and when they realized what had happened, they had more despicable things to do to it. For starters, they cooked the body to keep it from rotting and smelling before disposing of the pieces with the garbage.
In fact, her head was boiled before it was sewn into a Hello Kitty mermaid doll. They also held on to her tooth and other internal organs as keepsakes in a plastic bag.
The woman had been cut up with a saw in a bathtub. After the tip from the girl, the police were able to find the woman's head stuffed in the doll.
The trial took six weeks, after which the men were convicted of manslaughter. The jury could not tell if the men planned on killing her or not.
Ah Fong was offered immunity in exchange for testifying against the three triads. It was the girl who had discovered that Fan was dead, an outcome she attributed to the fact that Fan had overdosed. However, experts suspected that the injuries had caused her death.
Hello Kitty Murder Today
Although the 90s wave of violence is long gone, the city still dealt with gang violence long after. The problem was that the gangs made lots of money from their operations, which made them hard to stomp out.
Fortunately, these days, Hong Kong and Macau are among the safest cities in the world. However, these horrific crimes are remembered to this day.
Two films have been released based on the Hello Kitty Murder: Human Pork Chop and There is a Secret in my Soup (2001).