BUKIT MERTAJAM, MALAYSIA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - A day before she died, 21-year-old Adelina sat on the porch, too terrified to respond to rescuers.
She only glanced at them and shook her head. A black rottweiler, tied on a leash beside her, barked at the rescuers.
Neighbours claimed the woman from Medan, Indonesia, had been forced to sleep with the rottweiler on the porch for over a month before she was found on Saturday (Feb 10).
Adelina died on Sunday (Feb 11) at the hospital. The employer and her brother are being investigated for murder.
Her rescuers - assistants to Bukit Mertajam MP Steven Sim - went on Saturday to the double-storey semidetached house in Taman Kota Permai, in Penang, after being alerted by a journalist.
One of the rescuers, Por Cheng Han, 29, said: "We arrived and saw her on the porch. She did not respond to us and just shook her head.
"We spoke to the neighbours, who told us they often heard the employer scolding her loudly from inside the house."
He said he saw pus on what appeared to be burn marks on the maid's legs.
"There was a woman in her 60s at the house when we arrived," said Por, adding that she refused to send the maid to the hospital and told them to mind their own business.
Por said he was given the phone number of the woman's daughter - the maid's employer - who denied abusing the woman and told them to wait for her to return.
They then contacted Tenaganita, an NGO dedicated to protecting migrants from abuse, Por added.
When the employer returned, she said that she had not mistreated the maid but admitted to having slapped her in the past, according to Por.
The employer allegedly told him that she had bought a cleaning chemical after the maid defecated in the kitchen's drain hole and clogged it up.
"She claimed that the maid had accidentally spilled the chemical on her legs and arms when pouring this into the drain hole, causing chemical burns, and that despite being provided with medication, she did not stop picking at her wounds, making them worse," said Por.
He said before Tenaganita volunteers arrive, the employer bundled Adelina into her car and drove out of the house. So he called the police.
Central Seberang Prai OCPD Asst Comm Nik Ros Azhan Nik Abdul Hamid said the 36-year-old woman and her 39-year-old brother had been detained.
ACP Nik Ros said Adelina, who came to work in Malaysia about two years ago, had a swollen head and face, as well as injuries on her feet.
"Attempts to record statements from her were unsuccessful as she was still in fear," he said.
"We sent her to Bukit Mertajam Hospital where she died."
The man and woman have been remanded until Feb 14 for investigation under Section 302 of the Penal Code for murder.
In a separate case, a couple from Penang who were facing the gallows for starving their maid to death escaped with a 10-year jail term each when the Federal Court of Malaysia convicted them of a lesser charge on Jan 25.
Chief Justice Tun Md Raus Sharif sentenced store owner Soh Chew Tong and his wife Chin Chui Ling to the jail term for committing culpable homicide, instead of murder.
Soh, 48, and Chin, 45, were previously convicted of murdering their Cambodian maid Mey Sichan, 24, at their home in Taman Asas Murni, Jalan Bukit Minyak in Bukit Mertajam, Penang, between Jan 1 and April 1, 2012.
The maid, who started working with the couple in July 2011, was found dead at the couple's shophouse with fresh injuries on her body and severely dehydrated.
She had sunken cheeks and eye-sockets, and weighed only 26.1kg at the time of her death.