For nine months, her battered and decomposing body lay in the vacant flat, wrapped in four layers of material - a blanket, an orange plastic sheet, a black trash bag and a quilt cover.
No one discovered it. Perhaps it was because her killer had attempted to mask the "smell" by leaving a fan on and placing two air fresheners near the body.
But on Dec 31, 2012, an HDB inspector noticed a foul smell while entering the Beach Road flat and came across the grisly find.
Investigations revealed that the body belonged to Ms Lydia Wati Mohamed Yahya, who had lived in the flat with her uncle, Mohamed Firdaus Mohamed Hanafiah, 29, his then-girlfriend, Ms Siti Salihah, 23, and their newborn baby.
According to accounts given by Ms Siti to the police, Firdaus had beaten and tortured his niece, then 30, over a 10-hour period one night in late March 2012.
His fists, a broom, shower head and hammer.
Firdaus was arrested on Jan 5, 2013.
Yesterday, the former odd-job worker was sentenced to 10 years and eight months' jail for culpable homicide and two other drug- related charges.
Justice Lee Seiu Kin described the victim's death as "cruel and painful" even though he noted that at the time the crime was committed, Firdaus was suffering from psychotic depression.
Court documents revealed that it was a simple matter of Ms Lydia refusing to eat food prepared by him at about 4pm that day which sparked the attack.
It angered Firdaus so much he began hurling vulgarities at her, then slapping and punching her face, despite protests from his girlfriend.
The violence escalated when Firdaus hit her with a broom because he was unhappy about the floor being dirty after he had told her to sweep it.
Ordering her to go to the kitchen toilet, he continued his assault for an hour, despite her screams and pleas for him to stop.
At one point, Ms Siti saw Firdaus holding a shower head next to his terrified niece.
Ms Lydia's forearm was swollen and her forehead was bloody she said.
About two hours later, Ms Lydia, who was told by Firdaus to take a bath and wash her clothes, was again targeted.
Ms Siti heard "banging" sounds on the toilet walls and Ms Lydia begging Firdaus to stop and saying she was sorry.
IN A RAGE
Her pleas fell on deaf ears. Filled with rage, Firdaus got a hammer from his tool bag in the living room, warned Ms Siti to keep quiet and returned to the toilet.
He struck the wailing Ms Lydia multiple times on her back and shoulders with the hammer, said Ms Siti, who begged him to stop, only to run back to her room in fear when Firdaus waved the hammer at her.
When Ms Lydia finally stopped screaming, at about 2am, Firdaus pulled his niece from the toilet to a bedroom.
She was groaning and still breathing.
He shook her and told her to get up, but the woman's laboured breathing soon stopped.
He then tried to disguise his murderous act by wrapping his niece's body multiple times. He also left a fan on and placed air-fresheners near the body.
At about 6am, Firdaus and Ms Siti left the flat with their baby.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Eugene Lee told the court yesterday that an autopsy revealed Ms Lydia's body "was already in an advanced state of decomposition... The head was fully skeletonised".
In total, 11 rib fractures, one sternum fracture and one right forearm fracture were discovered on her body.
Firdaus, who was not represented by a lawyer, said he was remorseful and "hope(d) to be able to receive treatment in prison".
Mr Lee cited a psychiatrist recommendation of "around eight to 10 years of treatment" for the man as there was a high risk of relapse.
It was learnt in court that Firdaus' difficult childhood led to a "severe personality disorder of mixed type with borderline, anti-social, obsessional and schizotypal features".
His family members, who were present in court, declined to be interviewed.
Ms Lydia's mother, on the other hand, told Chinese daily Lianhe Wanbao she felt something was amiss when she did not hear from her daughter for more than three months.
She had tried to look for her at the Beach Road flat, but nobody was at home.
This article was first published on January 31, 2015.
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