'Missing' Singaporean woman says she travelled to Romania to look for Internet boyfriend

Ms Cheryl Yap Lay Leng, 25, (centre) with her mother and 18-year-old "boyfriend" Alexandru Donea. PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM PRO TV VIDEO
Mr Donea and Ms Yap reportedly share a passion for manga and met online two years ago. PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM PRO TV VIDEO
Ms Yap and her mother during the TV interview with Romanian broadcaster Pro TV. PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM PRO TV VIDEO
Ms Cheryl Yap Lay Leng (second from left) with her mother, two police officers and an unidentified man dressed in black.
Ms Cheryl Yap Lay Leng (second from left) with her mother, two police officers and an unidentified man dressed in black. PHOTO: POLITIA ROMANA/FACEBOOK

SINGAPORE - The Singaporean woman who allegedly went missing after travelling to Romania with her mother has said that she wanted to meet her boyfriend, whom she befriended online two years ago.

Administrative assistant Cheryl Yap Lay Leng, 25, and Madam Foo Li Kheng, 61, were reported as missing by Ms Yap's father after they departed for the Romanian capital of Bucharest on Jan 22.

Mr Yap, a 59-year-old taxi driver, told Shin Min Daily News on Monday (Feb 1) that he was worried his wife and daughter had fallen victim to a scam as they had left Singapore without his knowledge and were uncontactable.

But in a television interview with Romanian broadcaster Pro TV on Tuesday, Ms Yap shared that she and her mother were now staying with her boyfriend Alexandru Donea, 18, and his parents at their home in Vulturesti, a village commune in Olt County about 150km from Bucharest.

When asked by a reporter why she had come to Romania, Ms Yap replied: "To meet my boyfriend to work together on YouTube."

Mr Donea and his parents were also interviewed in the news clip.

Pro TV reported that Ms Yap and Mr Donea both shared a passion for manga, and Ms Yap decided to visit him as they wanted to meet "in the real world".

The Romanian police also clarified on Tuesday night that Ms Yap and her mother were not victims of any crime.

A photo of the pair, flanked by two police officers and Vulturesti mayor Gheorghe Treanta, was uploaded onto the Facebook page of Politia Romana.

"We wish them a pleasant stay further in Romania," the post said.

In a statement to The Straits Times on Wednesday morning, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman said: "The Ministry is relieved that the two Singaporeans are safe and wish to thank the Romanian police for their assistance.

"The next-of-kin has also contacted the two Singaporeans and MFA is in close touch with the next-of-kin. We will continue to maintain contact with the Romanian authorities and render the necessary assistance to the Singaporeans."

Olt County police spokesman Claudia Radu had told Romanian newspaper Libertatea that officers visited Mr Donea's house on Tuesday to check on them.

The parents of Mr Donea, whom Pro TV said are unable to communicate in English with Ms Yap and Madam Foo. PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM PRO TV VIDEO

According to Mr Yap, his daughter had with her four bank passbooks containing savings of at least $40,000, along with cash and SG50 commemorative notes.

The pair also did not book any hotel, he told Shin Min.

He only found out about their trip - they had booked their return for April 16 - through his daughter's credit card bill. He was later notified by his daughter's company that she had not applied for leave.

The mystery deepened when Shin Min reported that Ms Yap's elder brother had managed to access her computer and discovered that she had erased files, including photos, before her trip.

But a Facebook friend of Ms Yap, Ms Jerleen Tang, earlier told The Straits Times that the pair were safe and had been in contact with her.

Ms Tang declined to comment further, saying: "I don't want to stress her."

Ms Yap (right) and Madam Khoo, seen here in an undated photo, are said to be close. PHOTO: FACEBOOK

Ms Yap has been described by her father as quiet and reserved, with not many friends. She reportedly shares a close relationship with her mother.

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