Her neck was bruised, her lips almost black

PHOTO: Shin Min

It was Mother's Day but for the mum of a one-year-old girl, Sunday will forever be etched in her memory as her worst nightmare come true.

Richelle Teo, who had celebrated her first birthday five days earlier, was found unconscious in her home at Block 225, Simei Street 4.

There were reportedly bruise marks on her neck.

What followed was a manic scramble by her parents to try to save her. Tragically, it was all in vain.

Richelle was pronounced dead on arrival at Changi General Hospital (CGH).

A woman who lives directly above the Teos' sixth-storey unit told The New Paper that she and her husband were at the open-air carpark at the foot of the block when they saw the family running towards them.

Mrs Teo, who was carrying Richelle, was with her husband, their four-year-old son and an elderly woman.

The neighbour, who declined to be named, said she and her husband did not know the Teos but recognised them as their neighbours.

See also: Indonesian maid charged

FRANTIC

She told TNP in Malay at her home yesterday: "My husband and I were about to leave for the market when the lady ran up to us. She was holding her baby and said, 'Please help me. Please take my baby to the hospital. Please.'

"She was frantic. We didn't hesitate and told them to get into our car quickly."

The neighbour said Mr Teo had told the others to go ahead without him. Mrs Teo, her two children and the elderly woman got into the back of the neighbour's car.

As her husband drove to CGH, the nearest hospital, Mrs Teo was bawling her eyes out while begging little Richelle to "wake up".

The neighbour said Mrs Teo kept telling her daughter in Mandarin, "Mei Mei, wake up. Please, Mei Mei, open your eyes" during the journey.

"I asked her what happened but she was crying so uncontrollably that she couldn't answer. Instead, the elderly woman replied that the baby had been strangled," said the neighbour's husband.

"I can't stop thinking about the journey in the car on Sunday.

"I keep hearing her son telling me, 'Uncle, please drive faster. Uncle, please drive faster.'

"My stomach churned when I heard his innocent voice cry out like that."

Police said they received a call at about 9.20am on Sunday, requesting for assistance at the Teos' unit.

On arrival, the officers established that a one-year-old girl was being taken to CGH.

The neighbour said: "The moment we reached the hospital, I ran into the building and asked the first hospital employee I saw for help."

The hospital employee took the baby from Mrs Teo's arms and rushed off with her. Mrs Teo, her son and the elderly woman followed him.

The neighbour said: "The only time I saw the baby's face was when the hospital employee took the baby from her mother.

"There was a bruise right across her neck, from one end to the other. Her lips had already gone dark, almost black."

ARRESTED

The police said the toddler was pronounced dead at 10.08am. A 30-year-old woman was arrested later that day.

The suspect, Ms Maryani Usman Utar, is the Teo family's Indonesian maid. The police took her back to the scene yesterday to help with investigations.

Chinese daily Lianhe Wanbao reported yesterday that at the time of her arrest, the suspect "was holding a toy doll in a pink dress, which is believed to be related to the case".

Shin Min Daily News reported that this was Ms Maryani's first time working in Singapore. She arrived here in January last year.

It added that she "didn't talk much to the neighbours".

Another maid, who works for the Teos' next-door neighbour, told TNP that she had seen Ms Maryani "a number of times before but they had never spoken to each other".

The police said yesterday evening that Ms Maryani will be charged in court today with culpable homicide not amounting to murder.

crobert@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on May 10, 2016.
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