SINGAPORE — When landlord Chai Yong Siong entered his flat and saw a figure under the sheets on a bed, he retreated out of the house as he thought his tenant had brought someone home and wanted to save him the “embarrassment”.
But when Mr Chai returned to the flat after some time, thinking the person should have left, the figure was still on the bed.
Feeling impatient, Mr Chai raised his voice and called “hello” a few times, but the person did not move, a court heard on Wednesday (Sept 18) in an ongoing murder trial.
His tenant, Boh Soon Ho, 51, is on trial for killing 28-year-old nurse Zhang Huaxiang on Mar 21, 2016.
Mr Chai went to the side of the bed and pulled the blanket away, revealing the person’s face, he said in a statement read to the court.
“To my horror, all I saw was the face of the deceased, which was darkened,” said the landlord. “(It was obvious) she was dead, and I let out a loud shout.”
This drew the attention of two other tenants, who went to ask him what happened.
The court heard Mr Chai’s testimony on Wednesday afternoon, led by Deputy Public Prosecutor Jason Chua, on the opening day of the trial.
Boh, a Malaysian national and Singapore permanent resident, is said to have strangled the woman he saw as his girlfriend, but whom the prosecution says never reciprocated his feelings.
After this, he allegedly stripped her and licked her before trying to have sex with her corpse.
Accused called landlord, police recorded phone call
After he discovered the body, Mr Chai said he called the police. Later, he received a call from Boh, who had fled to Kuala Lumpur by then.
Boh told his landlord that he had strangled the woman, and that he would call him again.
Mr Chai was briefed by the police on what to do if Boh called again, and a subsequent 10-minute call between the two men was recorded by the authorities.
In the days that followed, Mr Chai exchanged calls and messages with Boh, whom he had agreed to rent a bed space to since October 2015.
They had worked together at the Marina Bay Sands integrated resort years before.
The prosecution produced copies of messages Boh sent to his landlord, in which he said he had wanted to use “a big knife to chop” the corpse up, but it had stiffened.
“I couldn’t, aiyo, aiya, I couldn’t bring myself to do it, I keep wanting to chop, chop, but I really couldn’t,” said Boh in his message to Mr Chai.
According to the landlord, Boh told him that there was “no turning back” as “I have killed a person” and was a “murderer now”. There was no saving him now, Boh said.
He also purportedly told Mr Chai that the victim had scolded him, making him very angry. Boh said he had been too impulsive and described the anger like “fire burning” in his head.
Boh was eventually arrested by the Malaysian police while having dinner at a restaurant on Apr 4, 2016, and taken back to Singapore the next day.
Questioned by defence lawyer Eugene Thuraisingam, Mr Chai said he was shocked when he learned that Boh had killed Ms Zhang.
“I couldn’t believe it,” said the Malaysian man through a Mandarin interpreter. “Because he’s usually a quiet and easy-going person.”
The trial continues for the rest of the week, with the prosecution expected to call witnesses including psychiatrists and a pathologist.
If found guilty of murder, Boh could be sentenced to death or life imprisonment. He cannot be caned as he is above the age of 50.