Hello Kitty was born without a smile. Designer Yuko Yamaguchi did not think she needed one. According to Sanrio’s spokespeople, it’s so that those who encounter the character can "be happy or sad together with Hello Kitty."
Boasting a revenue close to half a billion dollars, Hello Kitty is the most successful fictional character in the world. Although this cute cat wearing a bow began as a merchandise item for young girls, its fame reached older audiences, such as teenagers and adults.
In 1999, 23-year-old Fan Man-Yee was a hostess at the Romance Villa nightclub, a place frequented by criminals, drug addicts, and members of the Chinese crime syndicate known as The Triads. One of Yee’s clients was Chan Man-Lok, a member of the violent organization, who had engaged in a sexual relationship with the hostess. One day Man-Yee took Man-Lok’s wallet, which contained four thousand dollars.
Once her mistake was discovered, she was forced to return the amount, along with over 26 thousand dollars in interest. Unable to cover her debt, Man-Lok and two of his partners, Leung Shung-Cho and Leung Wai-Lun, kidnapped her.
According to the men, the original plan was to keep her prisoner until the debt was paid. They drugged her with “Ice”, the street name for methamphetamine hydrochloride, and then took some themselves. Once under the effects of the substance, they began to torture and beat her while asking her to smile.
Man-Lok’s fourteen-year-old girlfriend, whose name is not included in any reports, would often join in on the abuse. The four captors would spill boiling oil over their victim’s feet. They’d beat her with a stick until her ribs would break, urinate on her face, and even force her to drink it. On one occasion Man-Lok’s girlfriend filled a shoebox with her feces, which were then force-fed to Man-Yee.
As days went on, the unending horrors continued to escalate. They’d hang their victim from the ceiling in order to hit her with an iron pole, until they’d get bored and go play videogames while leaving the captive hanging.
They tore and electrocuted her genitals, bit her breasts, and continued to torture her until one morning they found her dead. The teen member of the captors found the body. The four dumped the victim’s body in a tub and dismembered it with a saw. The remains were wrapped in newspaper and stored in the freezer.
Then one of the men proceeded to boil the head until the skin and flesh were removed from the skull. Man-Lok, being a Hello Kitty fan, then proceeded to hide the skull in a stuffed animal version of the animated character. The rest of the body was given to stray dogs and as soup for the homeless.
The three men continued with their lives, as if nothing had happened. However, the youngest of the group began to be crushed under guilt and shame, having constant torturing nightmares.
Eventually the young woman showed up at the Tsim Sha Tsui police station and confessed to everything. She narrated an incredibly detailed description of what had happened to the shocked officers. When law enforcement arrived at the luxurious apartment, they were only able to find a tooth, some internal organs, and the skull of Fan Man-Yee.
This horrific case is chilling when considering its violent and bizarre nature. It’s particularly strange because when the story first broke, it seemed that the most interesting aspect about the whole situation had revolved around the children’s character being used for a gruesome murder.
One can only imagine what went through the mind of the creators of Hello Kitty when they heard the news that their friendly kitten had been used as an accessory to homicide.
Like this story there are several other terrifying stories about women being abducted and brutally murdered, as well as of women who've become the abusers and murderers.
Translated by María Suárez