KOVAN double murder suspect Iskandar Rahmat was believed to have been in touch with one of his two victims - the late Mr Tan Boon Sin - on a regular basis since late last year.
A close relative of Mr Tan told The Straits Times yesterday that Iskandar would call the 67-year-old car workshop owner to update him about a case of theft from his safe deposit box at the Certis Cisco building which he had reported to the police last November.
"He would call Boon Sin every few weeks to update him on the theft and reassure him that the investigation was going well, and that the matter would be resolved," said the relative, who wanted to be known as Mrs Tan.
But Iskandar, a police senior staff sergeant, was not the investigation officer (IO) of the case, even though he had handled the initial report made by Mr Tan.
The case had been passed on to another police officer who was already working on a series of similar cases reported earlier last year.
Iskandar has since been arrested over the alleged murder of Mr Tan and his son Tan Chee Heong, 42, at the older Mr Tan's Hillside Drive terrace house last Wednesday.
News of the brutal killings and arrest of the 14-year police force veteran in connection with the crime last week shocked the nation.
His arrest last Friday came after a 54-hour manhunt that ended after Malaysian police tracked him down at a Danga Bay restaurant across the Causeway in Johor Baru.
Details of what led to the grisly double murder, however, were unclear.
Mrs Tan said she believed "Chee Heong was there (at the scene) because he would usually accompany his father" on matters concerning the theft from the safe deposit box.
It is not known if Iskandar had any personal contact with the younger Mr Tan.
Fellow officers who knew Iskandar said the 34-year-old was a "good IO, but he had money problems".
"He had approached several of his friends and colleagues for loans, but because he was being investigated for being financially embarrassed, no one helped," said an officer who knew him when they both served at Bedok Police Division.
Iskandar was deemed to be in financial embarrassment, a term used to describe public servants such as police officers whose unsecured debt is more than three times their monthly pay.
The Straits Times understands that any officer who is in such a predicament is required to declare it to his supervisors.
It was revealed that Iskandar owed more than $62,000 to OCBC Bank and had been declared a bankrupt last Thursday - just a day after he allegedly killed the father and son.
Police confirmed that he had failed to declare his personal debt and, as a result, was facing disciplinary proceedings.
Those proceedings started in January, but his financial troubles began as early as June last year.
More personal details of who Iskandar is emerged yesterday in a report by Malay-language newspaper Berita Minggu.
It said that he was enrolled in Singapore Polytechnic in 1997 to study electronics, but dropped out later. He is also believed to be married, with no children, and is separated from his wife.
Additional reporting by Melody Zaccheus