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Singaporean woman found dead in JB river during CNY was 'gloomy' after return from Singapore

Singaporean woman found dead in JB river during CNY was 'gloomy' after return from Singapore
The deceased Nita (right) with her daughter Cindy Chang.
PHOTO: Facebook/Cindy Chang

She had just celebrated her birthday last Thursday (Jan 27) but on the eve of Chinese New Year (Jan 31), 64-year-old Singaporean Lachemi went missing from her home in Johor Bahru (JB). Two days later, her body was found floating in a nearby river.

Lachemi, who also went by the name Nita, had lived in JB for many years after marrying her Malaysian husband. The couple have three daughters. 

Speaking to the Chinese evening daily, one of her children Cindy Chang, 34, said her father had discovered Nita missing when he woke up on the morning of Jan 31. She had left all her belongings, including her phone, wallet and ID, at home.

Sensing something amiss when she did not return by nightfall, the family went out to look for her and made a police report. They also put up notices online requesting information on her whereabouts.

Chang said they were extremely worried as Nita did not know how to drive and she didn't have money on her to take a taxi. She said her mother rarely left the house and usually stayed at home to take care of her grandchildren. Chang added that with their mum missing, she and her family were in no mood to celebrate the new year.

On Feb 2, the second day of Chinese New Year, the family received a call from the police, stating that a body suspected to be Nita's had been found in a nearby river.

As the body was severely bloated, the family was only able to identify Nita from the clothes that she was wearing. The police ruled out foul play as no injuries were found on the body.

Nita's cremation is due to take place today.

Chang, who works as a secretary, told Shin Min Daily News that Nita did not leave any last words, and the family is still struggling to come to terms with her death.

She added that Nita had gone to Singapore last year to get her Covid-19 vaccination. When she returned to JB in August, however, Chang noticed that she became gloomy and withdrawn.

Chang observed that Nita no longer watched television nor used her mobile phone, and "was like a different person".

Said Chang: "My mum worked hard her whole life, helping my father with his hawker business when she was younger, and later taking care of her grandchildren. My biggest regret is not being able to bring her on a trip overseas."

Chang also wrote in a Facebook post that she hoped for their roles to be switched in their next lives. "I hope to be reborn as your mother so that I can take care of you."

'Kidnapper' demanded $1,600 in ransom

Chang shared that in their frantic search for Nita, the family also became the target of a scammer who claimed to have Nita.


She said that the family received a text message which demanded a 5,000 ringgit (S$1,607) ransom in exchange for her release.

However, the family's suspicions were raised when the 'kidnapper' was unable to produce proof that they had Nita.

They arranged a meet-up at an abandoned mall near their home, but when Chang's sister arrived, the 'kidnapper' asked her to go into a dimly-lit building and to transfer the money into their account.

"They didn't succeed in the end as my sister insisted on seeing our mother first," said Chang.

Chang said her older sister and uncles who live in Singapore were unable to make a trip to JB immediately due to Covid-19 restrictions. But they are working on getting across the Causeway as soon as possible to pay their final respects.


  • Samaritans of Singapore: 1800-221-4444
  • Singapore Association for Mental Health: 1800-283-7019
  • Care Corner Counselling Centre (Mandarin): 1800-353-5800
  • Institute of Mental Health's Mental Health Helpline: 6389-2222
  • Silver Ribbon: 6386-1928
  • Shan You Counselling Centre (Mandarin): 6741-0078
  • Fei Yue’s Online Counselling Service:
  • Tinkle Friend (for primary school children): 1800-2744-788

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