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The Hello Kitty murder: Hong Kong's most notorious killing

Neon signs on the streets of Hong Kong
Image: Neon signs hang above the streets of Hong Kong | michaelshawn /

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Hong Kong in the 1990s saw an increase in gang-related violence, with attacks and robberies frequently making the headlines. Towards the end of the decade, an apartment in the Tsim Sha Tsui district of Hong Kong was the site of one of modern history’s most brutal crimes.

The murder of 23-year-old Fan Man-yee shocked the world, but if it was not for a teenager’s confession, the murder may have gone unnoticed.

Who was Fan Man-yee?

Born in Shenzhen in 1976, Man-yee was abandoned by her family and raised in an all-girls orphanage. When she turned 15, she was told to leave the orphanage as they could no longer support her. Homeless in Hong Kong, she developed a drug addiction and fell into prostitution to fund her habit.

Man-yee got herself a job as a nightclub hostess but was still battling the cycle of drug addiction and sex work. The nightclub was known to be a hangout for members of the Chinese mafia and some of the country’s most dangerous and richest men.

One of these men was 34-year-old Chan Man-lok, a drug dealer and pimp who knew he could exploit the young woman. The pair soon became acquainted and Man-yee entered into his inner circle of friends.

However, despite their closeness, Man-yee was struggling with her addiction and needed money. Out of desperation, she took Man-lok’s wallet and stole $4,000.

The crime

As soon as Man-lok noticed his money had gone, he ordered his two henchmen, Leung Shing-cho and Leung Wai-Lun, to abduct Man-yee on 17th March 1999. She was subjected to a reign of abuse, torture, and sexual assault. Man-yee endured this torture for a month before her body succumbed to the injuries one night.

It was later discovered that Man-yee had paid back Man-lok the money she had stolen, with an added $10,000 interest. However, this was not enough for the gangster who demanded more money that she could not afford.

After Man-yee died, all her remains were disposed of, apart from her head which was stuffed inside a Hello Kitty soft toy.

The confession

A month had passed since Man-yee was murdered, a crime which had so far gone undetected. In May 1999, a teenage girl only known as ‘Ah Fong’, walked into a police station in Hong Kong and claimed to be haunted by the ghost of Man-yee and detailed the torture that was inflicted upon her.

Ah Fong was described as the girlfriend of Man-lok, but other reports claim that she was more likely groomed into sex work by the pimp. By her own confession, the teen occasionally visited the apartment where Man-yee was being held and had witnessed Man-lok kick Man-yee 50 times.

The police initially dismissed the teenager’s confession as a disturbing fantasy. However, they later went to the apartment where Man-yee was held and the scene corroborated the teen’s confession.

The trial

Despite the testimony from Ah Fong against her former boyfriend and his accomplices, none of the three men involved were found guilty of Man-yee’s murder. During the six-week trial, all three defendants denied murder but confessed to preventing a lawful burial.

The medical examiners struggled to find an exact cause of death, due to the state of Man-yee’s remains. While there was no denying Man-yee suffered indescribable torture, it could not be ascertained whether the torture or a methamphetamine overdose was to blame.

Due to this, all three men were found guilty of manslaughter instead of murder and were sentenced to life in prison with the chance of parole in 20 years.