PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The homeless mother of a murdered toddler was often seen together with the suspected murderer at the Kuala Lumpur mall where the two-year-old was abducted, according to a mall worker.
The 27-year-old suspect was part of Siti Salmy Suib's 'gang' and they were often seen hanging out together, the worker said.
"He is also part of her 'gang'. All the homeless people in this area hung out together from time to time," said the worker who declined to be named.
She said those who worked in the mall, especially on the fourth floor where the arcades were located, knew Siti Salmy, 32, and her friends.
"You can see her here from morning till the place closes. She just loiter with her friends, leaving the child to wander all over the fourth floor on her own," she said, adding that the suspect was sometimes seen with Siti Salmy.
"They all know each other. There must be a reason why he took the child," she said.
At about 9pm on May 29, a man took Siti Soffea Emelda Abdullah to a bridge near a river bank about 1.5km away and witnesses reported seeing the man behead the toddler, allegedly with a ceramic tile.
When witnesses tried to apprehend him, the suspect jumped into the Klang River. A body, believed to be that of the suspect, was found floating in the river in Bandar Sunway on May 31.
It was earlier reported that Siti Salmy had been living on the streets even though she has family members staying in Cheras.
Siti Salmy, or Amy as she was known to friends, could also be seen at a recreational area opposite Pudu Raya when she was not at the mall.
"Many of her friends have not been here since last weekend. If you want to find them, go to the park near the mobile police station opposite Pudu Raya," the mall worker said.
She declined to confirm allegations that the group was involved in taking drugs.
The suspect, who was released from prison only two months ago after completing his sentence for possession of a dangerous weapon, had allegedly kidnapped Siti Soffea from the fourth floor of the shopping mall. The incident was recorded on closed circuit camera.
The suspect had four records for drug offences, vehicle theft and possession of a dangerous weapon.
When asked about where Siti Salmy got her food from, the mall worker said that the VIP lounge at the arcade sometimes provided food.
"She sometimes eats there. People here also offer food from time to time. She is always here. Of course we all help out," she said.
A man, who was seen loitering at the arcade, had a similar story to share, saying that he often saw the toddler on her own at the shopping complex.
"They are always here so people know them. Nothing ever happened until now," said the unemployed man, who said that he spent most of his time at the arcade.
"Amy is also like me. When I have no work, I'm here. Outside is very hot," he said.
He added that while the child often wandered around the fourth floor, her mother still kept an eye out for her.
A bus tout, who works near the park where Siti Salmy lives, said that the park is a usual haunt for the homeless and where many would spend the night.
"She (Siti Salmy) knew the man. Itu semua 'gang' diorang. (They are part of the same group). He could sometimes be seen around here," he said.
"A bit later at night you will see this place packed with people sleeping," he added.
The tout suspects that the murder of Siti Salmy was motivated by revenge.
"Tak taula, tapi rasanya ni dari dengki. (I am not sure, I feel like it was done it out of spite)," he said. "If something was given, but no money was paid then (the suspect) may have gotten angry."
He explained that many in the area were drug addicts.
"I liked the child (Soffea). She was a nice girl and very friendly. She was not afraid of people and I would sometimes buy her sweets or ice cream," he said.
"The child is comel (cute). We (the touts) like her but I do not like her parents," he said, adding that Siti Salmy's husband is believed to be in prison.
He added that food was not a problem for the homeless as there were many who gave out free food to the homeless.
"All the welfare societies provide food for these people and sometimes those who pray at the temples also help out," he said.
Kechara Soup Kitchen project director Justin Cheah said that Siti Salmy was a familiar face with the charity body.
He added that while Siti Salmy was 'not entirely homeless', as she had a home in Cheras, she preferred to live on the streets as her relationship with her family was strained.
He added that the soup kitchen staff had suggested that Siti Salmy go home as the streets was not a good place for her daughter to grow up but she had ignored the advice.
Mr Cheah said that he had yet to see a picture of the suspect and could not confirm whether the two knew each other.
Siti Salmy is currently under remand as police continue their investigations.