Two women were murdered by Rurik Jutting, and they deserve to be treated with more respect

Initial reports pegged Jutting's victims, already dehumanised by their brutal killer, as 'two prostitutes'

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The Independent Online

Rurik Jutting has not yet elaborated on the whys and wherefores of how two young women came to be murdered in his Hong Kong home. The details of how Sumarti Ningsih, 25, was bound in ropes before being all but decapitated and left to rot in a suitcase on Jutting’s 31st-floor balcony for five days are, perhaps mercifully, hazy.

How Seneng Mujiasih, 29, came to be found in his living room, with her throat fatally slashed, is unknown. Talking to his lawyers, Jutting, 29, simply blamed the events of the week leading up to the grim Halloween night discovery of two bodies in his high-class yuppie’s apartment on “incidents involving him and girls”.

When the news of the double murder first broke the other day, many saw parallels with American Psycho, Bret Easton Ellis’s 1991 novel about Patrick Bateman, a Wall Street banker turned serial killer. Like Bateman, Jutting was a banker, an employee of Bank of America Merrill Lynch, who lived in a swanky city apartment.

Like Bateman, he partied hard and found it easy to lure women back to his apartment as and when he pleased. Like Bateman, he told friends and colleagues that he was a “psychopath” – an automated reply on his work email account ran, “I am out of the office. Indefinitely. Please contact someone who is not an insane psychopath. For escalation, please contact God, though suspect the devil will have custody…” – but no one took any notice.

Until, that is, Jutting, like Bateman, apparently butchered a woman in his flat, then went for a pint at his local, then, a few days later, killed again. Like Bateman, he appears to have recorded the murders on camera for posterity. And like Bateman, when the crisis point came at 3am on Halloween night, Jutting picked up the phone and called the police to tell them what had happened.

 

In American Psycho, Bateman picks up the phone to call his lawyer to reel off a list of the people he has killed. “Some girls in the apartment uptown, uh, some homeless people… an NYU girl I met in Central Park… I killed another girl with a chainsaw, I had to, she almost got away…” And so on. No explanation, no remorse – just a lot of incidents involving him and girls.

The difference, of course, is that Jutting is not a fictional character but a real man. His story, run through as it is with esteemed British institutions, holds a kind of morbid fascination for our class-obsessed culture. How did a hard-working boy from Chertsey, a keen historian and dedicated rower at Winchester College and Peterhouse, Cambridge, and a dedicated graduate employee at Barclays come to this?

On the other hand, the tale of a young man’s descent into a seamy world of high-rolling nights out while far from home is shocking but not surprising. It is a queasily familiar or plausible expat tale, an inevitable consequence perhaps of Western haves meeting Eastern have-nots in a red-lit haven of hedonism. Only its gruesome ending sends it into the realms of the incomprehensible and evil.

There are two types of expat workers in Hong Kong, though Jutting and his powerful, well-off type are the ones we tend to hear about most. As Jutting’s tale is constantly refreshed and fleshed out with ever more macabre, contradictory autobiographical details – he was “highly intelligent” at school; he also frequently binged on cocaine and holidayed in the “Sin City” of the Philippines – the “girls” of his tale remain depressingly blank.

Initial reports pegged the victims, already dehumanised by their brutal killer, as “two prostitutes”. Ningsih and Mujiasih both came to Hong Kong from their native Indonesia as domestic workers. Ningsih worked as a domestic helper, then as a waitress, all the time sending money to her young son and her parents back home in Java. Mujiasih, from Sulawesi, reportedly worked as a domestic helper until a few years ago, then made money wherever she could. If both or either ended up in sex work, it will have been out of necessity, to earn enough money to live, or raise a child. No banking salaries for them. In a city where great wealth and sexual exploitation are visible on every corner, it must sometimes look like the only option.

Jutting’s past relationships have been picked over as though they might offer some clue as to his alleged actions, as if a woman’s wicked, whorish ways might have driven him to do the unthinkable. There’s the Barclays employee who apparently broke his heart when she kissed another man, the glamour model known as “Sonya Milkshake” he dated in London, and the Filipina girlfriend who might have ended their relationship a few weeks ago. So many “incidents involving girls”, all of them blameless, and now two of them dead, in this sorry, bloody, brutal tale.

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