HONG KONG/LONDON – A 29-year-old British banker appeared in a Hong Kong court on Monday charged with two counts of murder after police found the bodies of two female prostitutes in his apartment, including one stuffed inside a suitcase on his balcony.
Rurik George Caton Jutting, looking stony-faced and unshaven and wearing a black T-shirt and dark-rimmed glasses, said he understood both charges. The brief hearing was adjourned until Nov. 10, without Jutting entering a plea.
Jutting was arrested in the early hours of Saturday at his apartment in Wan Chai, a central district of Hong Kong known for its vibrant night life. The Wan Chai district also has been a popular haunt for foreign navies on rest and recreation over the decades.
A charge sheet read out in court said the woman whose body was found in the suitcase had been killed on Oct. 27. The second woman was murdered on Nov. 1, the document said. No cause of death was given.
Media described the two victims as prostitutes and said both had neck injuries, adding one was nearly decapitated. One of the women was Indonesian, the South China Morning Post newspaper reported.
While one of the victims had been put in the suitcase on the balcony of Jutting’s apartment, the other was found lying inside with wounds to her neck and buttocks, police said Sunday. Jutting had himself called the police and asked them to investigate, officials said.
An automated email reply from the Bank of America Corp. account of Jutting on Sunday said he was out of the office “indefinitely” and recommended contacting someone who’s not “an insane psychopath.” The automated reply continued: “For escalation please contact God, though suspect the devil will have custody. Last line only really worked if I had followed through.”
Bloomberg News wasn’t able to determine if the automated reply from Jutting’s account had been written by him, or whether Bank of America’s Jutting is the same person as the reported suspect in the case.
A spokesman for Bank of America Merrill Lynch told Reuters on Sunday that the bank had, until recently, employed a worker with the same name as Jutting’s. The bank would not give any more details nor clarify when Jutting had left the bank.
The grisly murders have shocked Hong Kong, a city with a low homicide rate.
One of the victims was a 25-year-old woman called Sumarti, who had entered Hong Kong from Indonesia on a tourist visa last month and had been arrested for breaching the conditions of her visa, the South China Morning Post reported, citing a relative. The second victim was aged 25 to 30 and worked as a DJ in a pub, according to the newspaper.
The two women were of Asian ethnicity and are believed to have been killed several days apart, it said.
Britain’s Foreign Office confirmed Saturday that a British national had been arrested in Hong Kong, without specifying the nature of any suspected crime.
A Linkedin account under Jutting’s name said he had worked in structured equity finance and trading at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in Hong Kong since July 2013. Before that, he had worked in the bank’s same department in London. The profile also said Jutting had worked in structured capital markets at Barclays between June 2008 and July 2010 and had studied at Cambridge University.
Jutting studied history and law at Cambridge and was a member of its rowing club and secretary of the history society, The Daily Telegraph reported. He had previously been a pupil at Winchester College, an independent boys’ school in southern England, the London-based newspaper said.
The apartment where the bodies were found is on the 31st floor in a building popular with financial professionals, where average rents are about 30,000 Hong Kong dollars (nearly $4,000) a month. “It’s very shocking because we never expected something like this to happen in Hong Kong, especially in the same building that I’m living in,” said Mina Liu, another banker.
One woman who lives down the corridor from the flat where the bodies were found said she had seldom seen anyone come and go from the apartment.
There were 14 homicides in Hong Kong, a city of 7 million people, between January and June, down from 56 in the same period last year, according to government crime statistics.
In one of Hong Kong’s most lurid killings in recent years, a case dubbed the “milkshake murder,” American housewife Nancy Kissel killed her banker husband — a senior executive at Bank of America Merrill Lynch — by clubbing him to death with a lead ornament at their luxury home in 2003, after drugging him with a sedative-laced strawberry milkshake.