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By Tan Tam Mei
The Straits Times
Mar 6, 2017
When housewife Chen Yoke Mooi, 54, found out her only daughter had a boyfriend, she immediately disapproved of their relationship.
The couple had met online. Madam Chen was particularly concerned, given that Miss Elsie Lie Lek Chee, then 23, was "very trusting and kind-hearted".
Her instincts proved sadly unerring.
Barely a year after Miss Lie, an administrative officer, met security guard Gabriel Lee Haw Ling, then 37, she died at his hands, part of her body mutilated and eyes gouged out.
Speaking to The Sunday Times at the family home in Jurong West, Madam Chen said in Mandarin: "My daughter is gone forever. She died in such a horrific way and there will always be a hole in my heart. One of the saddest things... is for a parent to bury a child."
Miss Lie and Lee met in April 2011. Lee was then going through a divorce with his wife, a lawyer with whom he has two children.
He and Miss Lie started cohabiting two months later.
In December that year, Lee began to believe that the room they were renting in Jurong West was haunted and that Miss Lie was possessed.
But in March 2012, he proposed. She said yes.
Days later, on March 31, the police received a call after a flatmate noticed blood at the door of their room.
Investigations later revealed Lee had tried to decapitate Miss Lie.
He also tried to amputate her right foot, and had dug out her eyes and thrown them out of the window.
When the police arrested Lee, he was kneeling next to Miss Lie, chanting while holding a yellow object that resembled a cross.
On Feb 23, Lee, now 42, was sentenced to 10 years' jail after pleading guilty to culpable homicide.
He was originally charged with murder but it was reduced as a psychiatric report found he had a brief psychotic disorder.
Today, nothing stands out in the neighbourhood of Jurong West Street 65.
The current tenants of the flat on the 14th floor of Block 633 - five foreigners - appear unaware of its grisly past.
Miss Lie's family is now fighting to keep her memory alive and to appeal against Lee's sentence.
Madam Chen said they had hoped that his time in jail would be longer.
His term was backdated to April 1, 2012, when he was remanded in custody after being charged.
He could be released earlier for good behaviour.
The distraught mother said: "What if he comes out and comes after our family? If he hurt my daughter because he believed she was the devil, he might think we are (devils) too."
Miss Lie's younger brother, businessman Lie Jin Chyau, 26, has set up an online petition.
They do not have money for a lawyer, he said.
Said Mr Lie: "I know the petition will not affect the appeal because that's up to the courts. But at least people will know about this and give their support in some way."
Miss Lie has another brother, Jinn Yuan, 22, who is doing national service.
Their father Lie Yong Song, 63, is a carpenter.
The family had not met Lee previously and did not know the couple were engaged.
It was in court that they set eyes on their daughter's killer for the first time.
Said Madam Chen: "I didn't want to look at him or be there (in the same room), but I knew I had to face him, to try to get justice for my daughter."
According to the block's residents, the flat has since changed tenants at least twice.
A housewife who has lived in the block for two years, and declined to be named, said: "I did hear about the incident and my housing agent assured me that my unit wasn't the one where it happened.
"But this neighbourhood is quite peaceful and the knowledge of it doesn't affect us much."
Mr Ong Choon Huat, 50, an odd-job worker, said: "We were stunned at the details of the case. It's not just the most shocking thing to happen in the estate, but it's probably one of the most shocking cases in Singapore."
Another resident, a cleaner who gave her name only as Madam Chen, 55, said: "For a while, I was afraid to walk past the grass patch (where the eyeballs were found).
"But after so many years, I just feel sad that this happened to the young girl.
"I hope her family will be able to find some peace."