Man charged with murder of wife and daughter: He slept next to bodies for a week, then set them on fire
Property agent charged with murdering pregnant wife and daughter in 2017
One week before Chinese New Year in 2017, debt-ridden property agent Teo Ghim Heng strangled his wife, who was six months pregnant, and their four-year-old daughter.
He slept on the same bed as the bodies for one week in his Woodlands flat, with the air conditioner turned on to delay decomposition.
Teo searched the Internet for ways to commit suicide, leaving the flat only to buy food and air freshener. He then set the bodies on fire, claiming that he had also tried to kill himself in the blaze but aborted the attempt when he could not bear the heat.
He gave excuses when his wife's family asked about her whereabouts and they eventually called the police on the first day of Chinese New Year.
These allegations about the tragic deaths of Madam Choong Pei Shan, 39, her daughter Zi Ning, and an unborn son, emerged yesterday as prosecutors set out their case against Teo on the first day of his double murder trial.
Teo, 43, is charged with killing his wife and daughter on Jan 20, 2017, with the intention of causing death, a charge which carries the mandatory death penalty.
A third charge of killing his unborn son has been stood down for now.
The couple married in 2009 and it was the second marriage for both.
The High Court heard that Teo was a gambler who racked up debts of at least $120,000 at the end of 2016. But he kept his wife in the dark about the extent of his debts.
He listed the flat for sale and took on another job as a sales coordinator.
"The accused felt Pei Shan should have contributed to the household income by working.
"He also never fully forgave her for an affair she had a few years back, and strongly suspected that Zi Ning was not his biological daughter," said Deputy Public Prosecutor Han Ming Kuang.
According to Teo's statements to the police, he and Madam Choong, a housewife, had an argument on Jan 18, 2017, about his financial problems. He told her he owed a total of $70,000 and could not pay their daughter's kindergarten fees.
Two days later, the couple argued about money again while in the master bedroom.
Teo told police that he looped a towel around Madam Choong's neck and pulled both ends for about 15 minutes, and then strangled her with his bare hands until she stopped breathing.
He claimed his daughter, who had changed to go to kindergarten, was in the master bedroom throughout playing with her toys and watching TV. Teo then strangled his daughter.
On Jan 23, three days after the killings, three of Teo's colleagues from Carpentry Design Works went to his flat to look for him as he had not shown up for work.
Teo refused to leave, even after one of his colleagues tripped the main power switch outside in a bid to force him to open the door.
Teo also repeatedly lied to his and his wife's families that Madam Choong was ill and would not be at their Chinese New Year gatherings.
On Jan 28, the first day of Chinese New Year, Madam Choong's brother Gordon went to the couple's flat and forced open a window.
When he detected a pungent odour, he called the police. Just as firefighters were about to force their way in, Teo opened the door and made a dash for it before being caught.
After he was arrested, Teo told the police he had made a suicide pact with his wife but later admitted that he had in fact strangled her and their daughter.
The trial continues today.