Woman, 77, found dead in Tampines flat

Above: Police taking away the body of Madam Tay yesterday. Left: The Indonesian maid, who was home at the time of the incident, was seen leaving with police officers at about 6pm to assist in investigations.
Police taking away the body of Madam Tay yesterday.ST PHOTOS: ARIFFIN JAMAR
Above: Police taking away the body of Madam Tay yesterday. Left: The Indonesian maid, who was home at the time of the incident, was seen leaving with police officers at about 6pm to assist in investigations.
The Indonesian maid, who was home at the time of the incident, was seen leaving with police officers at about 6pm to assist in investigations.ST PHOTOS: ARIFFIN JAMAR

Neighbour called police after hearing maid's cries for help; police probing unnatural death

A 77-year-old woman was found dead in the living room of a fifth- floor flat at Block 276, Tampines Street 22, yesterday afternoon.

The incident is being investigated as an unnatural death. No arrests have been made as of last night.

A police spokesman said a call for assistance was received at about 2.10pm. Paramedics later pronounced the woman dead at the scene. She was identified as Madam Tay Quee Lang.

A neighbour who lives on the same floor, engineer Ashaari Hasan Basri, 28, told The Straits Times that he had called the police after hearing a maid's cries for help.

"She was crying and shouting 'Ah Ma' (Hokkien for grandmother) from inside the unit, so I rushed over. She looked lost and only told me that 'Ah Ma' had slashed herself with a knife," he said.

Mr Ashaari said he peered through a window of the four- room unit and noticed the elderly woman slumped on a wheelchair facing him.

She appeared to have a bloodied knife lodged in her throat, he said.

"There was also blood on the floor and on her clothes," he said.

About 10 people - believed to be family members and friends - were seen gathering along the corridor around 5.30pm. A woman who came to the door of the unit later in the evening would only say that the family is "hurting inside".

Neighbours told ST that Madam Tay lived in the flat with her husband, who is in his 70s, and an Indonesian maid, who started working for them about a month ago.

The maid, who was home at the time of the incident, was seen leaving with police officers at about 6pm to assist in investigations. The body was taken away at about 7pm.

Mr Ashaari added that the couple, whom he described as kind-hearted, loving and friendly, had lived in the flat for over 30 years. They also enjoyed going out together, he said.

Mr Ashaari's mother, Madam Ainon Ali, 56, said that Madam Tay suffered a stroke about three years ago and could no longer move about without her husband's assistance.

"Her husband used to take her down to do some exercises, but they stopped doing so after (she fell and had to be in a wheelchair)," said Madam Ainon, adding that Madam Tay's husband Tan Hee Seng would buy groceries to cook lunch for his wife almost daily.

She added that Mr Tan had been out for a routine check-up at the hospital yesterday afternoon when the incident happened, and he got back only after the police arrived.

Madam Ainon, who invited Mr Tan to rest in her flat, said he appeared upset and distraught while the police were in his unit.

"He only said to me, 'She's no more. She's gone already.' "

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 14, 2017, with the headline 'Woman, 77, found dead in Tampines flat'. Print Edition | Subscribe