I heard cries... then silence

SINGAPORE - She was in deep slumber when she heard a woman crying in Mandarin: "Save me! Save me!"

The last thing Amy imagined was that those were the last words of her flatmate.

"I thought I was dreaming, but when I opened my eyes I could still hear the cries. So I woke the other two girls in my room up, to ask if they had heard the same thing," said the 25-year-old accountant, who declined to reveal her surname.

The three women, who are all from China, decided to investigate but were greeted by darkness and silence when they opened their room door.

In total, four people lived with a couple and their daughter in a four-room HDB flat at Block 296A, Choa Chu Kang Avenue 2. The couple rent the flat and the others are sub-tenants, who live in two rooms.

Amy, who came to Singapore two months ago, said: "We decided to go back and sleep, thinking we had simply heard wrongly, but within a short time, the police came knocking on our door."

A neighbour who lives in the unit directly above the flat on the 11th floor, who wanted to be known only as Mr Kwok, said he heard pitiful cries from the unit below. It prompted him to call the police at about 3.50am.

"They arrived shortly after, and I heard loud banging on a door," he said.

Amy said the couple's daughter, a secondary school student, answered when the police came knocking.

Although she was told to stay in her room, Amy could hear the sounds of the police knocking on the door of the master bedroom.

She said: "It took several minutes before they got through.

"It went by very quickly. I caught a glimpse of the landlord, looking very calm, in his pyjamas spotted with blood. I knew then that something had gone very wrong."

Police said they got a call for help at about 4am.

When they arrived at the flat, they found a 41-year-old woman lying unconscious. Singapore Civil Defence Force paramedics pronounced her dead at about 4.30am.

The police quickly ushered the flatmates up the stairs to the 12th floor to have their statements taken, said Amy.

"The police never really said what had happened, but I kind of figured it out through the questions they were asking," she said.

On Thursday, a 58-year-old man was arrested by the police in relation to a murder of a 41-year-old woman, believed to be his wife.

As she had to get to work, Amy got dressed and left the flat in haste, leaving her belongings behind.

When The New Paper met her outside the flat at about 3pm on Thursday, she was locked outside and waiting to collect her belongings with her elder brother, who is also in Singapore.

"My flatmates and I are going to look for a new place. The problem is, I'd just paid another $200 on Thursday for another month's rent and I have a $200 deposit still with the landlord," she said.

The man and his wife come from Fujian, China, she said, adding that their marriage is the woman's second.

"Their teenage daughter is from the woman's first marriage, and she told me that her mother and stepfather have no feelings for each other," she said.

Arguments

Quarrels between the couple were common. "I would hear voices raised in agitation, but always stayed in my room when the quarrels happened," said Amy.

Added Mr Kwok: "Occasionally, I heard banging sounds coming from their flat, both in the day and the evenings."

A next-door-neighbour, who wanted to be known only as Madam Chen, did not hear the commotion but said the man was generally aloof and cold whenever she greeted him.

"I would smile but he would simply ignore it. He doesn't talk to people," said the 40-year-old woman in Mandarin.

The man was very particular. Amy said: "If the fridge was a little too full with food belonging to the flatmates, he would nag.

"He also didn't like it when we threw our rubbish into a plastic bag he kept for his own waste."

About a week ago, he and a flatmate got into such a huge row that the woman moved out.

"She was so angry, she said she didn't even want the deposit anymore," said Amy.

The family of three depended on rent and the salary of the man's wife for a living, she added, although she does not know what the wife worked as.

"The landlord would ride his bicycle every morning to the nearby temple, where he would take his meal, and then return in the afternoon," she said.

Reflecting on the incident, she said: "I'm a little shaken, but not to the point of wanting to leave this country. I guess it just means violent cases can happen anywhere."

The man will be charged in court on Friday.

The case has been classified as murder, which carries the death penalty. Investigations are ongoing.

Another Chinese woman killed

Another Chinese national was killed in Choa Chu Kang last month.

Ms Zhang Jie, 25, a salesgirl, died from her wounds in hospital.

Driver Xiao Guiliang, 30, also a Chinese national, has been charged with her murder.

The couple had rented the flat together. Xiao was remanded for psychiatric evaluation.

If convicted, he faces the death penalty.

 

benitaay@sph.com.sg

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