Man Who Killed His Pregnant Wife & Daughter in Woodlands Lost His Appeal & Will Face the Death Sentence

On Wednesday (23 Feb), Teo Ghim Heng’s appeal against the conviction of the double-murder of strangling his pregnant wife and four-year-old daughter to death was dismissed.

The 46-year-old man had been sentenced to death on November 2020 for the murders.

On behalf of the five-panel judge, Justice Judith Prakash upheld Teo’s previous convictions, as well as his death sentence, which means that Teo will be meeting the end of the hangman’s noose.

The Day of the Homicides

On 20 January 2017, Teo strangled Ms Choong Pei Shan, who had been six months pregnant then, to death with a towel after a dispute concerning their finances.

That morning, the 39-year-old Ms Choong had changed their daughter into her school uniform, but Teo changed her back to her home clothes.

The reasoning behind his actions was that he was heavily in debt and had no money to pay for the school fees.

After telling his wife that he owed S$70,000 and couldn’t afford her education fees, Teo alleged that Ms Choong “started to scream out loud”, calling him a “useless fool” in front of their daughter as she sat on the bed.

He responded by telling her that he hated her scolding him in front of their daughter.

As she continued to scold him loudly, Teo said that his mind went blank.

He went into the toilet, grabbed a towel, sat behind her, and looped the towel around her neck.

According to Teo’s Institute of Mental Health consultant psychiatrist, Dr Derrick Yeo, Teo claimed that he just wanted to shut his wife up at the moment to stop her nagging, so he looped the towel around Ms Choong’s neck.

“I just wanted her to keep quiet,” said Teo. “I cannot stand she (was) shouting at me in front of my daughter. I simply, simply hate this.”

Ms Choong didn’t scream, but she had tried to grab and pull at the fabric tightening around her neck. Her legs had also been kicking and moving as she tried to resist him.

While his wife died, Teo told her in Mandarin, “Shan, you got to let go already, I owe a lot of money. If you struggle, you will suffer because I owe outside a lot of money. You will suffer.”

After Ms Choong slumped on the bed 15 minutes later, motionless, Teo called out to her. He proceeded to strangle her a second time with his hands as he saw bubbles coming out of her mouth and thought that she might still be alive.

Then, he told his daughter not to be afraid of him and asked her to sit on his lap.

“Go find your Mummy first,” Teo said, “Papa will come soon.”

He then proceeded to strangle his four-year-old daughter the same way, with the towel and his hands.

Teo recounted that the girl had cried softly before her voice grew louder, making incoherent noises throughout the strangulation.

Upon noticing the same bubbles coming out of her mouth, he switched to using his hands and said in Mandarin, “Darling, go find Mummy already.”

The Ticking Time Bomb

In Teo’s account, his main reason for murdering his family was because he was afraid that the debtors would come after them.

By that point in time, his debts had mounted up to around S$100,000 to S$150,000, though he kept his financial situation a secret from his colleagues, family, customers, and his daughter’s preschool.

When the market was booming in 2011 to 2013, he was making S$10,000 to S$15,000 a month as a property agent.

But in mid-2014, the salary he was earning dropped by two to five folds, wherein his property business was making S$5,000, but he was only drawing S$3,000 a month.

Teo stated that their monthly household expenditure was around S$3,000 to S$5,000 a month, hence he couldn’t maintain his S$40,000 savings which were on a constant decline.

Additionally, he was sole breadwinner in the house as his wife stopped working in 2012, and she would ask for money to support her parents.

The couple would quarrel every day because of money.

Besides the financial troubles, their marital harmony became even worse when Teo purportedly found his wife in their room with another man in an unbuttoned shirt in 2014.

Teo said that he had “[taken] a chopper and slashed him”, and then the man had run away with his injury he inflicted.

After that incident, Teo claimed that he had given his wife “a chance” even after that transgression, for the sake of their daughter and because he still loved her.

However, his debts continued to snowball in the years leading up to 2017, since his salary dropped to S$1,500 as a sales coordinator.

It was not helped by the fact that Teo had started gambling as well, which led to his debts becoming “almost impossible to pay”.

His wife had not known about his mounting financial troubles until 2017, when a debtor came to their doorstep and demanded S$21,000.

Join our Telegram channel for more entertaining and informative articles at or download the Goody Feed app here:

Teo’s Failed Suicide Attempts

After murdering his wife and daughter, Teo tried to commit suicide numerous times.

He cut his wrists daily with a penknife and ate 20 paracetamol pills.

When that didn’t succeed, he tried to buy rat poison, but couldn’t, so he settled with buying another 120 paracetamol pills and two cans of beer.

He ate 105 pills and drank the beer, hoping it was enough to kill him.

Beside that, he even drank insecticide and tried to jump out of his house window once.

However, the sight of two children coming out of the car parked below his unit stopped him from jumping out.

Before the discovery of the corpses by his brother-in-law, Teo slept beside the corpses of his wife and child every day, for a whole week.

His last suicide attempt was when he set the corpses on fire and laid beside them.

In the end, he had “chickened out” because he couldn’t bear the heat.

In his confession statement, Teo begged for the death sentence because his wife and daughter were his “dearest” and “most important people” in his life, and now that they were gone, he wanted to join them.

Contradictions Found During the Court Hearings

One of Teo’s first lies during the whole proceedings was that he told his neighbours that everything was fine in his house. He told them that his wife had merely gone out and he was alone at home.

Secondly, on 28 January 2017, the first day of Chinese New Year, Teo had used a payphone at the void deck to call his mother-in-law and mother, telling them that his wife had kicked him out of the flat.

On that same day, his brother-in-law Gordon Choong had knocked on the door only to receive no response, though he noticed a “pungent odour” coming from the flat.

Mr Gordon Choong proceeded to call the police, and just as the firefighters were going to force their way in, Teo opened the door and calmly informed his brother-in-law that his sister was dead. 

Thirdly, in the statement made in front of the police, Teo claimed that he entered a suicide pact with his wife, and she was the one who looped the towel around their daughter’s neck. 

However, he admitted later on that he was responsible for both killings.

In his later appeal, Teo and his defence lawyers had attempted to lighten his burden of guilt by stating that he was suffering from a major depressive disorder back then.

Teo argued that using “insufficient weight”—since significant weight gains or losses were one of the common symptoms for depression—for the assessment of his mental state was an error.

Psychiatrist Dr Rajesh Jacob said that Teo was not of unsound mind, but under the added provocation and humiliation from his wife, it had “struck a nerve” and Teo had lost control.

Therefore, his patient had been substantially impaired during the killings.

In response, Justice Prakash listed out the criteria for major depression, which includes having to be in a “depressed mood most of the day nearly every day”, suffering from significant weight loss or weight gain without dieting, as well as insomnia and hypersomnia.

According to the evidence of his behaviour, given by his work supervisor, ex-colleagues, and in-laws, they didn’t observe any signs of Teo being in a depressive mood. Neither his weight nor sleep had been terribly affected.

In fact, Teo continued to function normally at work, gambled consistently in the months leading up to the killings.

His libido was similarly unaffected even after the murders as he went onto the internet to search for pornography and even left the house regularly for food.

With regards to his feelings of worthlessness and guilt, the court accepted that they weren’t easy to perceive, but counterpointed that Teo’s behaviour in trying to reverse his fortunes like taking up new jobs, were inconsistent with persons having such feelings nearly every day.

Justice Prakash summarised, “We agree with the (trial) judge that the appellant’s self-reported account was inconsistent with his stellar performance at work and… his ability to cover up his tracks and lay a false trail following his offences.”

For the bolded statements in question, Justice Prakash was referring to how Teo had changed his deceased wife’s Facebook profile picture to give the impression that she was still alive.

He had also evaded initial detection by keeping the air-conditioning running low to reduce the rate of decomposition, and even bought air fresheners to mask the smell of burning and decaying.

All of these observations indicated that he had the presence of mind to commit the volatile act, and his cognitive abilities were not hindered by any disorders.

This is also supported by Dr Yeo’s initial psychiatric assessment that stated Teo had the determination to kill his victims and he was in full control of his actions.

Thus, the Court of Appeal saw fit to dismiss Teo’s case.

Read Also:

Featured Images: YouTube (The Straits Times) & Facebook (Ade Teo)