Daughter's search for dead mum's S'pore family

Daughter's search for dead mum's S'pore family
Ms Turzynski was 17 months old when her parents and grandfather were killed. When police found the bodies, they found her in the flat, having survived for a week by eating cereal and drinking water from the toilet.

She does not normally wear necklaces or rings, but among Ms Colleen Turzynski's most prized possessions are two gold rings and a necklace with a panda pendant.

They are the most tangible links she has to Ms Lee Kui Yin, her Singaporean mother, who was tragically murdered in the United States in 1990. Ms Lee was wearing them when she was slain.

After more than two decades living in Poland with her paternal uncle, Ms Turzynski recently returned to the US to search for the family she never knew, especially her Singaporean family.

"I know about my dad's family, but my mum's family, I don't know anything. I want contact," Ms Turzynski, 25, tells The Straits Times in sign language through an interpreter.

She, like her parents, is deaf.

At the interview in a friend's home in Washington, DC, she has a stack of old photos of her parents, identification documents and news clippings of the violent attack in 1990 that left her orphaned.

The case remains unsolved - but what was clear was the remarkable resourcefulness of the then 17-month-old Ms Turzynski.

Police investigating complaints of a foul smell from the Turzynskis' apartment found the toddler silently peering out from a little nest of clothes on the floor.

From the sight of an opened box of Cheerios cereal in the middle of the floor and a baby's bottle floating in the toilet bowl, they deduced that she had kept herself alive for a week eating whatever she could find and drinking out of the toilet. Around her lay the bodies of her family.

Her father Kazimierz Turzynski, 35, a press operator in a rubber company, was stabbed in the chest. Her mother, 39, a seamstress, was slumped in a corner of the bedroom with stab wounds on her chest and wounds on her arms from trying to defend herself.

Her grandfather Mieczyslaw Turzynski, 61, a mechanic, was stabbed in the heart and found in another bedroom down the hall.

"I remember being there and trying to pull at my mother and I remember that I was scared," says Ms Turzynski.

And while she tries her best to remain stoic when talking about the past, there are moments when she cannot help but cry.

She speaks of an initially unexplained fear in her childhood of any man with a "thin face and a moustache and dark skin". "When I would see them, I would hide," she says.

It is a description that matches Pakistani national Abdul Qudoos, a family friend, who Ms Turzynski believes is the culprit.

He was arrested after police found him with Mr Kazimierz Turzynski's camcorder, according to news reports. But prosecutors did not have a strong enough case to try him and he was deported to Pakistan after a year in jail.

More about

Purchase this article for republication.



Your daily good stuff - AsiaOne stories delivered straight to your inbox
By signing up, you agree to our Privacy policy and Terms and Conditions.