TL;DR – Widowed at 36, the victim raised her sons single-handedly and she lost her life at 56. RIP~
A shocking double-murder took place in a 3-room HDB flat in Commonwealth Avenue on Sunday evening, and a 22-year-old young man, Gabriel Lien Goh, has been charged with murder. The victims are reportedly the young man’s 56-year-old mother and his 90-year-old grandmother.
He appeared in court on Monday and was spotted with cuts and bruises on his face and his right hand was also swollen. If convicted of murder, Goh could face the death penalty. But for now, Goh will be sent for psychiatric observation for three weeks. The next mention of his case will be at the State Courts on Nov 18.
More details about the family have since surfaced and my heart ached as I read the story of how this single mother had brought up her two sons and how she had met a tragic end at home, in the hands of her own child.
May the souls of the deceased find eternal peace.
Original in Chinese: Lianhe Wanbao / Zaobao
[Commonwealth Double Murders] The victim was a widow and single-handedly raised her two sons for 20 years, was a strong mother in the eyes of family and friends
The deceased’s husband who held a doctorate degree had contracted liver disease and had a liver transplant 20 years ago, but unfortunately, he still lost the fight. The 56-year-old widow raised her two sons and was both a mother and a father to the children. In the eyes of her family and friends, she was a “good mother who was independent and strong”.
In the double murder that happened at Commonwealth Avenue on Sunday evening (27th Oct), school teacher Mdm Lee Soh Mui was killed by her own son, Gabriel Lien Goh (22yo), as was her 90-year-old mother. It’s a tragic end for someone who had dedicated so much of her life to her sons and for someone who had been so filial to her elderly mother.
The accused’s (paternal) aunt Mdm Goh had told the media that her younger brother had met and married the deceased, her sister-in-law Mdm Lee Soh Mui, when they were fairly young. They were the epitome of a happy family with the arrival of the two sons. But life dealt them a sad card and everything changed when her younger brother was diagnosed with liver issues.
“My younger brother desperately needed a liver transplant to live, but all of our family members’ livers were too small and not suitable to donate to my brother who’s well-built. Although a kind soul eventually donated his liver, but my younger brother’s body was too weak by then and he passed away despite the transplant.”
Mdm Goh said her sister-in-law Mdm Lee was a very strong person. She was only 36 when she lost her husband. Her elder son then was about six to seven, and the younger one, the accused, was only two. She raised these two boys on her own for the past 20 years, and never once did she trouble her in-laws and she had never sought them out for help.
Mdm Goh said that with the passing of her younger brother, Mdm Lee still kept in contact with her in-laws. She would always bring her two boys over to visit the in-laws during Chinese New Year. “There was one year she didn’t show up, but we subsequently found out that she had some spinal issues and was hospitalised. Her two boys were still in primary school during that time, but she did not even breathe a word about her condition and her operation to us. She tried to do everything on her own, and we can see the resilience and grit in her through this.”
Mdm Goh added that her sister-in-law got along with everyone and she would pay her respects to her husband during new year and also on his death anniversary. It was clear to see how much her husband and their relationship meant to her.
Photo from the July wedding banquet became the last family portrait
The deceased had just welcomed her daughter-in-law into the family in July this year. The group photo taken during Mdm Lee’s older son’s wedding banquet became the last family portrait.
Mdm Goh told Lianhe Wanbao that the entire family was present at her sister-in-law’s firstborn’s wedding in July. Everyone was taking photos together happily, and there was absolutely no sign of trouble.
She lamented about the hardship that her sister-in-law went through to bring up her two sons and how she had just proudly become a mother-in-law, but to experience such a tragic end in a matter of three months is really hard to take.
From the wedding banquet photo that Lianhe Wanbao got, the petite grandmother in the double-murder was standing in the middle of the family photo, and the wedding couple was standing on both her sides. The accused was standing next to his older brother, the groom and Mdm Lee Soh Mui was standing next to the bride. No one would expect that the family portrait would become their last family photo together.
The older son experienced tremendous change overnight
Mdm Lee’s older son experienced great change overnight – the loss of his grandmother and his mother and his younger brother was caught and charged for murder – and the family of four is now down to just him.
Neighbours shared with Lianhe Wanbao that the accused was previously living with his older brother, his mother, his grandmother and the domestic helper in the Commonwealth Avenue flat, but the older brother had moved out after he got married.
The accused’s aunt, Mdm Goh said she was shocked when her older nephew called her yesterday morning to break the news. “The two children are good kids, we’re not sure what happened. We haven’t yet met up to understand the situation and let’s give the older son some time and space before discussing the next steps.”
Cai-pang stall helper had seen the two buying food together and the accused even paid for his grandmother
The grandmother led a thrifty lifestyle and she was health-conscious too and would go downstairs to exercise everyday. The accused was also seen accompanying his grandmother to buy food and he even paid for her.
One of the domestic helpers who works in the same block, Rina (38yo), said that the grandmother looked very healthy and was mobile and did not need anyone to help or support her. She also did not like the helper accompanying her.
A resident, Mdm Pan (79yo, retired), said that the grandmother would go down to the exercise area to work out every morning. “She didn’t look like she’s 90 at all, and she would even tell me to do more exercise to keep healthy.”
The cai-png (mixed rice) stall helper also said that the grandmother would go down to buy takeaway mixed rice everyday at around 11am to 12pm. She’s quite thrifty and would usually buy long beans, eggpant and tofu. “I even saw her grandson (the accused) come with her three weeks ago, and the grandson helped her pay for the rice. Their interaction was very normal.”
The deceased was a filial daughter who took good care of her 90yo elderly mother
The deceased, Mdm Lee Soh Mui, shouldered the responsibility of taking care of her 90yo mother and was a filial and good daughter.
From the Lianhe Wanbao news article, it is understood that Mdm Lee had an older brother and also an older sister. Despite having two sons to take care of, she shouldered the responsibility of tending to her elderly mother and lived with her.
In order to better care for her mother, the deceased specially hired a domestic helper some years back to keep a closer look on her elderly mother.
One of the staff from the provision store below the HDB block told Lianhe Wanbao that Mdm Lee often came with her mother to patronise the provision store, and the pair looked really closed. “Ah-ma would come and buy bread everyday, and she’s very friendly.”
Students paid last respects to a good teacher on Facebook
The deceased apparently was very well-loved in school and her students took to Facebook to say their last goodbye and pay their last respects.
Mdm Lee had 35 years of teaching experience and in the last 17 years, she was teaching Arts in Queenstown Secondary School. When her past students got to know of the news, they all took to Facebook to pay their last respects.
Netizen Ah Wan wrote that Mdm Lee was his/her arts teacher in secondary school and that she was a very friendly and approachable teacher.
Dang Chun Kin’s message read, “It was nice to cross path with her and may she rest in peace.”
Mr Lim wrote, “I am so sad to see this news, please rest in peace.”
Queenstown Secondary School’s principal, Ms Rasidah Bte Rahim, said that Mdm Lee was a professional who loved her work and she’s a great teacher who had the love and respect from her students. She cared deeply for her students and was full of passion towards teaching and other than official lessons, Mdm Lee would often organise activities to enrich the students’ learning.
(Featured image via)