Ex-top detective dies after heart attack

SINGAPORE - A retired ace investigator who cracked several high-profile murder cases during his three decades in the police force has died. Former assistant superintendent Richard Lim Beng Gee died at the age of 65 from a heart attack at home on Saturday (Jan 16), family members said.

He had also suffered from complications related to diabetes and a kidney condition.

During his 21 years with the Criminal Investigation Department, he was lauded on many occasions for his keen sense of observation skills and meticulousness in his detective work.

One of the most sensational cases that he helped solve was the brutal murder of insurance agent Annie Leong in 2001. It was later found that her estranged husband, Anthony Ler, had paid a 15-year-old boy to stab her to death.

Mr Lim led a six-man team from the Special Investigation Section, and they worked around the clock for 93 hours before solving the case. A crucial lead they picked up was a torn piece of newspaper from the crime scene, which matched the remaining pages found in Ler's home.

His team was presented with an Operational Efficiency Award in 2002 for its efforts.

"His mind was always sharp, even when he faced tremendous pressure to solve the cases," said Mr Foo Siang Luen, 60, who spoke to Mr Lim in four interviews for a book published in 2005 called Justice Is Done - on the decade's most gripping murder cases in Singapore.

Other cases he cracked in breakneck speed included the murder of a 26-year-old Bulgarian woman in 1998, which was solved in just 36 hours. The body of Ms Iordanka Apostolova's body was recovered from the Tanah Merah Canal with slash marks on her neck and chest, and stones tied to her legs.

Two petrol kiosk receipts eventually identified led to her murderer Shaiful Edham Adam, then 22.

Speaking to The Straits Times at his wake in Bukit Batok on Monday, his daughter shared glimpses of her father's profound dedication as an investigating officer.

Ms Jane Lim, 35, said her father kept detailed handwritten case notes in more than 20 A4-sized notebooks. "Those days were before CCTV cameras and GPS, so he would be drawing maps from scratch and writing out very neatly the entire chronology of the case," the civil servant added.

Among the sketches found in his notebook is that of a crime scene at the former Oriental Hotel, where a Japanese tourist was found dead in 1994. The sketch included a floor plan and the spots where each piece of evidence - including a cigarette butt and a brown handbag with the zip open - was found.

Ms Lim also remembered how her father would spend hours poring over the notes and photos on the floor of their home.

He retired in 2003, when his diabetes got worse, and his family helped him store the notebooks and many awards and certificates he had received.

The Penang-born Mr Lim travelled from his hometown to Singapore at the age of 20 for a job interview with the police force.

It was his first full-time job after leaving secondary school and it turned out to be a lifelong career he was passionate about.

Ms Lim said: "What kept him going was the desire to have justice done. It's a thankless job, in a way, since the person you're helping is already dead. But he wanted to make sure the family of the deceased received the justice they deserved."

This article was first published on Jan 18, 2016.
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