SINGAPORE - The elderly woman was stabbed and slashed hundreds of times, even after she died.
For five minutes during the gruesome killing, her teenage granddaughter endured the horror of the hacking sounds as she hid in her bedroom mere metres away.
Moments after the sounds stopped, the victim's daughter plunged six storeys to her death.
The details of the tragedy, which occurred in the early hours of June 4, emerged yesterday when State Coroner Marvin Bay delivered his findings into the deaths of Madam Rosaline Lim, 75, and her daughter, Ms Andrea Tay Su Lin, 51.
He ruled Madam Lim's death an "unlawful killing" by Ms Tay, who later committed suicide.
The findings also painted a picture of 17-year-old Germaine Ng, who desperately pleaded with her mother not to kill herself as she hid behind a locked bedroom door.
Her testimony, referred to in the findings, said that Ms Tay had been behaving strangely before the incident.
Germaine urged her mother to seek treatment several times, but she would always refuse, accusing her daughter of saying that she was crazy.
A few days before the incident, Ms Tay woke Germaine from her sleep, asking why she was pointing at her and "sucking her energy".
On June 2, she told Germaine she had asked her employer, Mr Ng Lip Seng, and Germaine's father, Mr Peh Hock Leong, to take her to a temple.
Mr Peh was Ms Tay's ex-boyfriend.
Said the teenager in her statement: "She felt people were targeting her and it was very bad.
On June 3, at about 9.30pm, Germaine and Ms Tay were to leave their flat to stay over at Mr Peh's home because Ms Tay wanted to meet him and "talk about her problems".
But they did not when she felt someone was going to hurt her. She was hearing voices in her head.
She told her daughter that she saw something on a bench at the first storey and that people were waiting "to take her away".
Ms Tay got so afraid that she did not want to leave the house.
At about 4.20am the following morning, Germaine was awoken by her grandmother's screams.
She could hear her mother shouting, "It's not my fault, it's all your fault. Why must you do this to me, why must you harm me?"
It had earlier been revealed that Ms Tay believed Madam Lim was casting spells on her.
She had a bad relationship with her mother, whom she blamed for her grandmother's death.
Fearful, Germaine locked the door to the bedroom she shared with her mother and called Mr Peh and the emergency services.
About 10 to 15 minutes later, Madam Lim went silent, but Ms Tay was still talking loudly.
Peeking under the door, Germaine saw what seemed like blood and a pair of shoes.
"I heard hacking sounds for five minutes," she said.
After a while, she opened the door, saw blood on the floor and locked the door again.
Pleaded with mum
Suspecting that her mother would harm herself, she started pleading with her to reconsider, talking through the bedroom door.
"I told her not to give up. 'I will help you. I will be there'... I shouted to my mother not to give up. I slotted my test paper under the door, telling her that I scored good results...
"She kept on talking to me, saying that she is sorry but it was not her fault and it was because of what other people were doing to her... I was very panicked," Germaine added, saying she had hoped to stall Ms Tay until Mr Peh arrived.
After she threw the house keys out of the window to Mr Peh, she heard her mother dragging a chair from the living room into the kitchen.
Using Germaine's keys, Mr Peh managed to unlock the front door and let two police officers into the flat at about 5am.
There, they found what Mr Bay, the state coroner, described as a scene of "veritable carnage", with Madam Lim lying in a pool of blood, and Ms Tay standing in the middle of the unlit kitchen.
Moments after she saw the police officers, she rushed to the kitchen window, climbed over and leapt to her death, hitting a laundry rack, which severed her legs at the knees.
During the autopsy on June 5, it was revealed that Madam Lim's eyeballs, a part of her tongue and right lung were missing.
While her eyeballs and tongue were recovered shortly after at a grass patch near the block, the lung remains missing.
Her wounds, inflicted by a knife and a chopper found at the scene, were also described to be "in the hundreds".
"While (Ms Tay) has never been formally diagnosed with any specific mental disorder by a medical professional, her extreme actions that night, considered with her antecedent episodes... suggests that she was in a profoundly unsound state of mind when she inflicted the grievous injuries on her mother," Mr Bay said.
Deaths could be prevented, say doctors
There was a good chance that the deaths could have been prevented if Ms Andrea Tay had sought treatment, said Dr Thomas Lee, a psychiatrist in private practice.
When told about Ms Tay's symptoms, he said it was possible that she could have had paranoid schizophrenia.
"It seems that she had a lot of delusions and false beliefs," Dr Lee said, adding that if treated, symptoms can go away in as quickly as three months.
Another psychiatrist in private practice, Dr Lim Boon Leng, said that such patients can easily be triggered, especially if their families are argumentative, or "emotionally expressive".
But both doctors conceded that it can be difficult for family members to persuade someone to seek treatment, especially if they do not think that they are ill.
Dr Lim said: "Many are afraid of angering their family members, but really, do not delay or wait (for help)."
How to help the mentally ill and those in distress
Both the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) and the Samaritans of Singapore (SOS) said help is readily available for people with mental illnesses.
When someone is increasingly unstable and highly distressed but unwilling to seek help, loved ones should call the IMH's 24-hour Mental Health Helpline at 6389-2222, said Dr Bhanu Gupta, a consultant at the IMH's Department of Community Psychiatry.
Trained counsellors man the helpline and can provide assistance and discuss ways to help.
SOS, a suicide prevention centre, provides professional counselling in crisis and suicide prevention.
An SOS spokesman said that on top of looking out for signs of intense distress and suicide, such as unusual mood changes, out-of-character behaviour and subtle warnings and threats, family and friends can also lend a ear.
If they suspect someone of harbouring suicidal thoughts, they can encourage them to contact the SOS by phone at 1800-221-4444 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
|Samaritans of Singapore (SOS):||1800-2214444|
|Singapore Association for Mental Health:||1800-2837019|
|Sage Counselling Centre:||1800-5555555|
|Care Corner Mandarin Counselling:||1800-3535800|
This article was first published on Dec 4, 2014.
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