After 31-year-old engineer Cui Yajie failed to turn up for work for two days straight, worried colleagues at semiconductor firm MediaTek lodged a missing person report last Thursday and even took to social media to appeal for information.
But she was already dead.
On Wednesday night, the police found her decomposed remains in a forested area in Lim Chu Kang. They were led to the grisly scene by 48-year-old Leslie Khoo Kwee Hock, who works at a laundry business.
He showed little emotion in court yesterday when he was charged with the murder of Ms Cui, a Chinese national from Tianjin who graduated from the University of Southampton in Britain. The Singaporean was accused of killing her between 8am and 10.11am at Gardens by the Bay East in Marina Bay last Tuesday, a day after she went missing.
Clad in a dark blue polo T-shirt, Khoo, who faces the death penalty, did not enter a plea.
Ms Cui was last seen at Fusionopolis Walk in Buona Vista at about 9.15pm last Monday, close to where her firm is located. She had stayed back to work that night. But she never returned home.
The police managed to establish Khoo's identity on Wednesday and he led them to Lim Chu Kang Lane 8 later that night. By 8pm, the area was cordoned off as officers carrying flashlights worked to recover evidence. A forensics team from the Health Sciences Authority joined them later.
Yesterday morning, about 20 Gurkha officers and the police's dog unit combed an area about 2km wide looking for the rest of her remains, said Chinese newspaper Shin Min Daily News. Investigations at the scene, located near several dairy farms, ended at around 5.30pm. The police were seen taking away a part of an abandoned truck.
Ms Cui was described as a cheerful and warm person who made friends easily, by those who knew her. She was said to be active in the Chinese expatriate community here.
Khoo, meanwhile, had been held up as a role model for former prisoners. A 2012 report by The New Paper revealed how Khoo and his wife had volunteered to deliver Christmas hampers to the families of inmates, after his release from prison that year.
District Judge Christopher Goh granted the police prosecutor's request to remand the suspect for a week, with permission to take him out to assist in investigations.
There have been four other unnatural deaths in the last two weeks. On July 13, a 55-year-old man was allegedly murdered in a Boat Quay pub. Two days before, a 42-year-old man died after being stabbed outside a Jalan Besar pub. On July 9, two men were found dead, one in Geylang Lorong 23, another at Yishun Block 279. Arrests were made in all but the Jalan Besar case.
Yesterday, Deputy Commissioner of Police for investigations and intelligence Tan Chye Hee, highlighting the recent spate of incidents, said offenders will be tracked down and "face the full brunt of the law".