Kissel accuses book's author of distortion

PUBLISHED : Friday, 26 October, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 26 October, 2007, 12:00am

'Gross mischaracterisation' of me and mine, says murderer

Nancy Kissel, who was imprisoned for life for murdering her millionaire banker husband, has accused the author of a new book on her case of presenting an inaccurate, distorted version of events and a 'gross mischaracterisation' of herself and the people around her.

Breaking her silence for the first time since she was jailed in Tai Lam women's prison in September 2005, Kissel, who has read an advance copy of Never Enough by American true-crime author Joe McGinniss, also said through her lawyers that the publication of the book was not in the interests of her three children.

Her defence team told the South China Morning Post yesterday that had Kissel not had to focus on her appeal, scheduled for April next year, no doubt lawsuits arising from the alleged inaccuracies in the book would be considered.

But the author argued his was an accurate, objective and fair account based on the information he gathered from interviews of many relatives and friends of the Kissel couple.

Kissel, 43, was found guilty of drugging her husband, Robert Kissel, with a sedatives-laced milkshake and then bludgeoning him to death with a heavy ornament in their luxury flat in Parkview on November 2, 2003.

The prosecution case was that she wanted to run away with her lover, Michael Del Priore, a TV repairman who lives in a trailer park in New Hampshire.

During the three-month trial in 2005, Kissel argued that she was only acting in self-defence against her abusive husband.

She also claimed she had little memory of what the prosecution described as her cover-up activities, including rolling up the victim's body in a red carpet and hiring workmen to move it to her storeroom.

The book, to be released next Thursday, portrays the Michigan-born Kissel as a witty, attractive but short-tempered and unforgiving woman who would shut out her mother or best friend for saying or doing something she disapproved of.

The author identified greed as the root of the tragedy, arguing that the reason Kissel stayed with her husband, whose estate was worth an estimated US$18 million, was money.

The book has also upset the victim's family. Apart from inaccuracies, Bill Kissel, father of Robert, accused the author of portraying him as the iron-fisted 'family villain' who cared only about making money, and conjuring thoughts and words attributed to himself and his late son.

As an example, he cited the author writing of a teenaged Robert pressing his face against the window of a candy store. The book says Rob 'didn't just want to buy candy. He was Bill's son. He wanted to own the store'. The 79-year-old father asked the author: 'Did Robert come back from the grave to tell you this? Or is it more poetic licence?'

'McGinniss had to create controversy in the book,' he said. 'The trial was well reported and there was not much more he could say other than to appeal to the prurient interests of his readers. The children will have to live with this tale the rest of their lives. Perhaps it may lead them into some kind of healing profession.'

Andrew Powner, solicitor for the victim's family, said: 'I would seriously question the decision to publish the book before an appeal has been heard.'

McGinniss, who became known after writing his best-seller debut on the election campaign of Richard Nixon in 1968, The Selling of the President, told the Post in his first interview given on the book it was ironic he was now under attack from both sides.

'I have done the one thing that nobody thought was possible - I have united Bill and Nancy once again,' he said. 'They have an opinion they can share. And obviously that was not my intention.'