Man, 63, found dead in Toa Payoh flat after neighbours detect foul smell

<p>hndeath29 / ST20211228_202104896838 / Alphonsus Chern //The sixth-floor flat at Block 110 Toa Payoh Lorong 1. 28 December 2021.</p>
The sixth-floor flat at Block 110 Toa Payoh Lorong 1 where Mr Zhang Yue Long's body was found. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN
Police officers removing the body on Dec 27, 2021. PHOTO: SHIN MIN DAILY NEWS

SINGAPORE - A 63-year-old man was found dead in his Toa Payoh flat on Sunday (Dec 26) after his neighbours detected a foul stench emanating from the unit, reported Shin Min Daily News on Monday.

The Straits Times understands that the man, who was identified as Zhang Yue Long by the Chinese daily, most likely died of natural causes.

It was also reported on Monday that the man lived alone after falling out with his two brothers.

The police told ST on Tuesday (Dec 28) that they were alerted to a case of unnatural death at Block 100 Lorong 1 Toa Payoh at 2.57pm on Sunday.

The man was found lying motionless, said the police, and was pronounced dead at the scene by a paramedic.

Based on preliminary investigations, foul play is not suspected.

Investigations are ongoing, added the police.

When ST arrived outside the sixth-floor unit at around 2pm on Tuesday, soap stains could be seen along the corridor.

A neighbour on the same floor, who wanted to be known only as Ms Lim, said the man used to live with his mother until she died last year.

Ms Lim, a 36-year-old accounts assistant, said the man was about 1.7m tall and had a stout build.

“He would go out almost every day riding a mobility scooter,” she said, adding that the man would occasionally walk to the nearby supermarket for groceries.

“It was always just him, he kept to himself and didn’t speak to anyone.”

She added: “I paid attention to the sound of his scooter because I didn’t want to block him when he was on the scooter and I was airing clothes outside in the corridor.”

Police officers investigating a unit in Lorong 1 Toa Payoh after a man was found dead inside on Dec 27, 2021. PHOTO: SHIN MIN DAILY NEWS

Mr Ang Ziqian, managing director of Ang Chin Moh Funeral Directors, told ST that when seniors die alone, the police are typically called to determine if any foul play was involved.

“A coroner’s inquiry has to be held to determine the cause of death before a funeral director can conduct a funeral for the deceased,” he added.

About the smell, Mr Ang said: “Decomposition sets in right after a person passes away and the level of humidity in Singapore accelerates the process further.”

A spokesman for Touch Community Services said undetected deaths at home can occur in the absence of a strong care support network, particularly for frail seniors with health and mental health issues who are living alone.

“The pandemic has also resulted in the suspension of many activities with seniors being encouraged to stay home. Seniors who are less technologically savvy are less likely to take part in online engagements, resulting in further isolation as social interactions are further reduced, ” said the spokesman.

“At the end of the day, neighbours will play a critical role as they are the first responders who can detect any change in their neighbour’s habits or situation and provide timely help.”

Seniors dying alone at home

The death of a man, 63, in Lorong 1 Toa Payoh on Sunday is not the first time that a senior has died alone at home, and the decomposed body discovered only much later.

Past incidents include:

1. Found lying face down

A 74-year-old known to neighbours as Lily was found dead on Sept 4 after she left a light on in her home at Bedok North Avenue 2, but was not seen on her usual routine of household chores and feeding cats outside.

She was found lying face down after concerned neighbours opened her unlocked door, only to be greeted by a rotting smell.

The two cats she lived with were later adopted by a neighbour who had helped to take care of her.

2. Letters piled up at Katong condo

The remains of a woman, believed to be Madam Lily Loh in her 80s, were found on Nov 23 last year inside a unit at The Shore Residences, a condominium in Amber Road near Katong.

Mail began to pile up in front of Madam Loh's door, including court documents that appeared to have involved her and the condo management.

A neighbour told The Straits Times that Madam Loh did not appear to have family members and had no visitors, but owned a dog - the remains of which were also found.

A "weird smell" could be detected in the common hallway around February 2019, more than a year before her remains were discovered.

3. Blood dripping from ceiling

A man, 77, was found dead in his Tampines flat in January 2019 after blood dripped through the ceiling of the unit below.

The resident of the lower unit noticed a strange smell in her flat, which led her to discover the dripping blood.

Subsequent investigation revealed that the man had died of natural causes, the police said.

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