A man accused of murdering his pregnant wife and daughter in 2017 said that he felt worthless over his mounting debts and being unable to provide for them, CNA reported.
Speaking to the High Court on Jan. 28, 2020, 44-year-old Teo Ghim Heng stated that he strangled his wife, Choong Pei Shan, and their four-year-old daughter, Teo Zi Ning, at their flat in Woodlands after a quarrel with his wife left him feeling humiliated.
Teo added that Choong had scolded him to the point where his mind went blank, and that he also detested how it had been done in front of their daughter.
He claimed that his wife had called him a "useless fool" and told their daughter that her father was "so useless."
Teo said: "I hate it. I told her a few times -- that I hate you scolding me in front of my daughter. I hate this. She started scolding me so loud my mind went blank."
Owed huge debts
The Straits Times (ST) reported that in total, Teo's debts came up to between S$100,000 to S$150,000 and that he owed it to various parties like his colleagues, customers and daughter's kindergarten school.
Additionally, his wife was aware that he had credit card debts, and that he had issues paying for his daughter's kindergarten school fees, among others.
However, Choong was unaware of the extent of his debts until a creditor visited the house, whereupon they began to quarrel on a near-daily basis, Teo added.
Used to earn more than S$10,000 as a property agent
Teo initially earned between S$10,000 to S$15,000 as a property agent from 2011 to 2013, when the property market was booming.
However, his earnings dropped once the market began to weaken, resulting in Teo eventually taking up a job as a sales coordinator for a salary of S$1,500 a month in Nov. 2016.
Teo's marriage with Choong was also put under strain after he found a man with an unbuttoned shirt in a room with his wife.
CNA quoted Teo as saying that he had taken a chopper to slash the man.
But Teo said he still loved his wife afterwards on account of their daughter.
What happened on the day of the alleged murders?
According to court documents seen by Mothership, Teo's daughter had been changed into her school uniform on the day of the alleged murders, ready to go to school.
However, Teo decided not to bring her to school and changed her back into home clothes on account of the school fees he owed. He feared she would be turned away from school, causing an embarrassing scene.
Both Teo and Choong then had a quarrel about the family's financial situation in the master bedroom.
This resulted in Teo walking to the bathroom to retrieve a towel, which allegedly he used to strangle Choong.
He eventually released his grip on Choong 15 minutes later, then proceeded to strangle her with his bare hands when he realised that she was still breathing faintly.
Teo then allegedly repeated the action on his daughter, killing her in the same manner.
Afterwards, he allegedly placed both bodies beside each other on the master bedroom's bed.
Subsequently, Teo allegedly either attempted or considered committing suicide by various means such as:
- Slitting his wrists,
- Overdosing on Panadol,
- Consuming insecticide, and
- Jumping out of the kitchen window.
Eventually, on Jan. 28, Teo allegedly decided to commit suicide by setting fire to the bodies of his wife and daughter and lying on the bed with them.
However, he changed his mind and left the flat for a while instead as a result of the fire's heat.
Teo was then arrested later on the same day when Choong's brother came to the flat to investigate why he had not been able to speak with her since Jan. 20.
Repeatedly requested for death sentence
CNA further reported that Teo also said that he had repeatedly conveyed his request for the death sentence to both the police and a psychiatrist.
When defence lawyer Suang Wijaya asked for the rationale behind his request, Teo replied as such:
"Because at that point in time I felt that the dearest person in my life already left, so it's best that I join them."
Should he be found guilty of murder, Teo will face the death penalty.
If you or someone you know are in mental distress, here are some hotlines you can call to seek help, advice, or just have a listening ear:
Samaritans of Singapore: 1800-221-4444
Singapore Association for Mental Health: 1800-283-7019
Institute of Mental Health’s Mobile Crisis Service: 6389-2222
Care Corner Counselling Centre (Mandarin): 1800-353-5800
Top photo by Matthias Ang