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Sept. 29, 2006 | 2:23 p.m. ET

A tale of two brothers: The banker and the swindler (Dennis Murphy, Dateline correspondent)


NBC's Dennis Murphy
Hong Kong was lit up like an X-Box game on double espresso. Green lasers slashing the skyscrapers Kowloon side, red and gold beams rippling off Victoria Harbour. Driving in, craning our necks like hicks from the sticks, looking straight up the facade of the Bank of China cross-hatched with bars of light for umpty-ump stories.

Maybe residents get jaded with their city’s nightly sound and light spectacular but even jetlagged and dazed as producer Marianne O’Donnell and I were after a 14-hour slog, we realized that arriving in Hong Kong at night is a “whoa” experience.

But we weren’t shop-op tourists. We’d come to Hong Kong to try to make sense of the Pink Milkshake Murder case. That’s what everyone there called it.

The detail of the pink milkshake—the one laced with knock-out nasties like date-rape drug—had captivated Hong Kong all through the monsoon summer a few years back.

The concoction had been blended up by an American banker’s wife, served to the millionaire investment banker unwittingly, by their child.

(L-R) Andrew and Rob Kissel

Days later, Rob Kissell, was found stuffed inside an oriental carpet in a storage lock-up of his high-rise apartment, bludgeoned to death, said the authorities, by his fashionable wife Nancy. She struck him five times, the cops said, with a decorative metal object, an heirloom piece, a very heavy one.

Pieces of broken skull pierced the banker’s brain.

“...blood was everywhere...” Hong Kong reporter Albert Wong would tell me when we talked about testimony from the sensational murder trial that followed.

It was hard to make-up: How behind locked doors Nancy Kissel slept in the same room as her husband’s corpse, keeping the household help at bay in their sprawling luxury apartment. “She told her domestic helpers don’t bother to clean up the room,” Albert remembered, “while she continued changing the linen, changing the rugs, and then eventually wrapping him up in the rug, tying it up and ordering removal men to take it to a storeroom.”

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The jury would hear from the accused herself about an abusive marriage: drugs, affairs, rough sex. Was any or all of it true?

“It’s going to be a Black Rain day tomorrow,” someone said. And sure, enough, the next morning the skyline on the Kowloon side disappeared under the blackest skies I’d ever seen. Punctuation points of lightning and claps of thunder.

We had four days to finish our interviews, get our pictures, find the places where key events had taken place.

Then it would be time to get back to the states to wrap-up the second half of our story, the one about the stabbing murder of the Hong Kong banker’s brother, back in Connecticut.
Robert and Andrew Kissel, two brothers, the banker and the swindler, millionaire’s both, each found dead in the basement.

It was hard not to think that the two must have been born on a Black Rain day.

'The Milkshake Murders' airs Dateline Saturday, Sept. 30 8 p.m.

Sept. 7, 2006 | 2:23 p.m. ET

Dennis previews Friday's show in a video blog from Florida

Video: Romantic stroll turned murder

Click here to read the transcript to the show, and for a 'crime file' on Fla. vs. Barber.

August 29, 2006 | 2:23 p.m. ET

Audrey's story (Dennis Murphy, Dateline Correspondent)

She's so composed, so rational, intelligent eyes, I can hardly believe she's put into words what she's just said. When I first met Audrey Kishline 10 years before, she was on "Dateline" telling us that problem drinkers, like herself, didn't have to give up alcohol altogether. If you just decided to cut back to, say, no more than nine drinks a week, and monitor it, you'd be an OK social drinker. She wrote a book and started a self-help group not unlike Alcoholics Anonymous. She called it "MM" for Moderation Management. She promoted her ideas on "Oprah" and the "Leeza" shows.

But Audrey, it turned out, had been kidding herself with deadly consequences. Even while she was on TV calling on others to drink less, she was secretly drinking more and more.  Audrey's a smart woman, though, and saw the hypocrisy of it all and six years ago told her followers in an e-mail that she couldn't cut it with her own guidelines for MM and had decided to abstain from booze altogether. Wine had been her noontime secret taste.

But it was a bottle of vodka by the seat of her pick-up as she set out from her home in Seattle after a two-day bender in March of 2000. That's when she said this shocking thing, this married mother of two, in her early 40s. I had to look at the transcript we make of interviews later to see if I'd heard it right.

Audrey Kishline: Finally, I decided that I couldn't abstain anymore. And I was gonna leave the family so I could still drink.

Dennis Murphy: Choose drink over the family?

Kishline: I choose drink over everything! I couldn't imagine living without alcohol.

She left her family for liquor and on that same day drove her pick-up head on into a car carrying a teenage girl named LaShell and her father Danny. Audrey had been driving the wrong way on Interstate-90 out of Seattle. The father and daughter died, Audrey was sentenced to four and half years in prison for vehicular homicide.

Video: Broken in prison

Back when I first met her, Audrey struck me as the kind of person who finds a passion, devours all the information she can about it and then tells the rest of us what she learned. She's a storyteller, at heart. The story she tells now— facing up to the unbearable horror of what she'd done, coming to find forgiveness from the mother of the little girl she killed— is an American tragedy, a story none of want to hear but like a bad wreck on the highway, one we can't divert our eyes from. And shouldn't.

Audrey's story airs Sept. 1, Friday, 8 p.m. on Dateline NBC.


August 8, 2006 | 10:39 a.m. ET

Is this what a killer looks like? (Dennis Murphy, Dateline correspondent)

Donald Moringiello  /  Courtesy of Court TV
So this chatty guy in a polo shirt, early 60s, is talking about his field, quality control work on commercial jet engines, and I drift out of the conversation for a moment and wonder if this is what a killer looks like: A wife-killer? Specifically, could this confident, articulate man have done what the authorities had charged him with: the second degree murder of his wife of more than 10 years, shooting her in the chest four times with a handgun he said he kept in a bag in his Florida sunroom.

Could this meticulous, problem-solving, engineer actually have made a blunder that would never have tripped-up any self-respecting killer on "Law and Order" or "CSI"? Did he actually wrap his wife's body in one of their king-sized bed sheets, weighed her down with concrete blocks from the garden, and then dump the corpse in the bay off  their waterfront home? And then toss the murder weapon a few feet off their home's backyard seawall?

Could anyone be so stupid? That rhetorical question would become a building block of Don Moringiello's defense. Would a certifiably smart man with assets in the millions kill his wife for no apparently good reason and then cover up his crime in such a clumsy fashion?

He said he didn't do it. There was a fight over dinner and she — Fern — stormed out, pulling her roller-bag behind her and declaring that she was going on a vacation from him.

Three days later, sheriff's divers recovered her body from the bay five doors down from the house.

Had he been framed? Had someone wanted his wife dead and made this gabby, amiable retiree the fall guy?

Tough questions for the jury to figure out. To listen to the testimony and look at the defendant. Puzzle through whether a killer could look like somebody at a Florida Early-Bird special.

"Five Doors Down," a report on the Moringiello murder case in Florida, airs Dateline Saturday, 8 p.m. on NBC. Click here to read a transcript of this report .

March 19, 2006 | 11:13 a.m. ET

Bed bugs are back (Dennis Murphy, Dateline correspondent)

Eeeeyyyeww!

We're in Rob Allen's editing room looking at a full-frame creature with bulging eyes, hairy legs and a menacing twisty snout. Clearly, this must be a running buddy of the radioactive giant ants from the 50's sci-fi classic "Them." But, of course, it's just our old friend Cimex Lectularius, as your local entomologist calls him. "Bed bugs" to the rest of us and your exterminator.

And he's back. Boy, is he.

Slideshow: Strangers in the night Bed bugs in America disappeared about the time of the rotary phone. The upside of DDT, and long-gone pesticides like it, was that it worked very well. The little blood suckers were dead as the Dodo here but they lived happily on in Asia, Africa, eastern Europe. Now they're hitching rides in luggage, shaving kits, coming soon to a hotel near you, perhaps. Or a college dormitory, or your very own bedroom.

More pictures. Mary Ann Rotondi, the producer of Sunday's report, shows me photos of a woman from Pennsylvania, her body so coverered with red blotchy welts it looks like crime-scene evidence.

She'd checked into a New York City hotel last December. As she slept, sometime, probably after three in the morning, the bed bugs crawled out of the headboard, maybe from under the seams of the mattress, and began feasting on her blood. She was bitten by bed bugs in dozens of places up and down her legs, her arms, her face. For the next few weeks, she told us, life was an agony of itching.

"I was just clawing away at my skin," she told us, "I could not stop."

Two months later Mary Ann and the crew went back to that same hotel and guess what? Well, I hope you'll see.

Here are some fun facts about bed bugs we learned in the course of our reporting:

  • They can live for an entire year or more on one blood meal.
  • Exterminators are reporting infestations in 45 of the 50 states.
  • They are as likely to set-up housekeeping in a five-star hotel as a flea bag. Good hygiene doesn't count.
  • Disgusting as they are to anyone but an entomologist, bed bugs don't appear to transmit disease.

So, the old adage is right: you really, REALLY, don't want to let the bed bugs bite unless you're the scientist we met who has a personal collection of 10,000 plus bed bugs. But dinner hour with him is another story.

You'll see.

Eeeeyyeww.

Dateline's special report on 'Bed Bugs' airs Sunday, March 19, at 7 p.m. on NBC. Click here to learn more about these creatures.

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