Disappearance of Winnifred Teo (1985)

Photo of Winnifred Teo.
Photo of Winnifred Teo.

Winnifred Teo Suan Lie was an 18-year old student from Catholic Junior College (CJC) who was found murdered on May 23, 1985.[1] Her case resurfaced in the media due to the breakthrough of Lim Shiow Rong’s cold case, which has been unsolved since 1995.[2] As of January 2021, Winnifred Teo’s case is still unsolved.[3]

Background

Born in 1967, Winnifred Teo Suan Lie was the middle of three siblings.[4] At the time of her death, Winnifred's older sister, Martina, was studying overseas in Australia and her younger brother, Gerald, was studying in Saint Joseph's Institution.[5]

Profile

Winnifred Teo was described as having waist long hair with tanned skin, which often caused her to be mistaken for an Eurasian girl.[6]

 
The stretch at Holland Road where Winnifred Teo's body was found.

Last seen

Winnifred Teo was last seen at 6pm on May 22, 1985 when she left her home at Maryland Drive to go for a jog around her neighbourhood.[1] When she did not return home by 4am the following morning, Winnifred’s mother filed a missing persons report with the police.[1]

Search & investigations

In the early hours of May 23, 1985, the police found Winnifred Teo’s dead body along a secluded stretch at Holland Road, over a kilometre from her place.[6] Found in the dense undergrowth, Winnifred’s nude body was covered in mud, bound by her tee shirt and brassiere.[7] No immediate signs of injury were visible on her body.[5] Other belongings, such as Winnifred’s pink jogging shoes, black shorts and watch was found a short distance from the crime scene.[1]

Winnifred Teo was described as “active” and “likeable” by her classmates, who were shocked to learn about her death.[1] CJC teacher Father Keane added that Winnifred had been running to prepare for an upcoming Outward Bound camp, saying:

"She couldn't jog in school because of heavy schoolwork and had therefore (sic) jog in the evening after school instead."[1]

 
Police retrieving Winnifred Teo’s body in 1985.

Police investigations

Winnifred Teo’s body was found with six stab wounds to her neck and her hands bound by her tee shirt and undergarments.[7] Her face and body was also found to have bruises, indicating further assault together with the stab wounds.[8]

According to an article written by the Singapore Monitor, further investigations by the government pathologist found that Winnifred had been sexually abused.[9] The nature in which Winnifred’s body was found has led police investigators to believe that Winnifred was the victim of a sex crime, having been raped and subsequently murdered.[6][1]

Police investigators also interviewed frequent joggers and residents around the area which Winnifred Teo was murdered, many of whom mentioned a man exposing himself to passersby several times along the jogging route Winnifred took.[10]

Speculations

Following Winnifred’s murder, there were speculations afoot that she was murdered due to a business rivalry since her father, Teo Joo Kim, was a prominent director in a timber firm.[6][11] In a 1985 interview with The Straits Times, Mr Teo dismissed reports that his daughter’s death was linked to a business rivalry, saying:

“We’ll leave everything (investigations) to the police. The papers could write what they wanted (sic), but they should check their facts carefully first.”[6]

References / Citations

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 From the ST archives: Female jogger found dead”. The Straits Times. May 24, 1985. Accessed 18 January, 2021.
  2. Cai, Candice. “Girl, 7, raped and murdered in 1995: Family receives tip-off after appeal for help”. AsiaOne. January 17, 2021. Accessed 18 January, 2021.
  3. Lee, Jeremy. “Murder Of Winnifred Teo Still Unsolved After 36 Years, Teen’s Body Was Found At Holland Road”. Mustshare News. January 18, 2021. Accessed 18 January, 2021.
  4. Wee, Paul. "500 bid a final farewell to Winnifred". The Straits Times. May 27, 1985. Accessed 29 January, 2021. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Nair, Suresh. "Police probing motives for slaying of girl jogger". Singapore Monitor. May 24, 1985. Accessed 29 January, 2021.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 No point talking about it, says dad”. The Straits Times. May 26, 1985. Accessed 19 January, 2021. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Still no lead on 1985 murder of girl jogger”. The Straits Times. May 23, 1987. Accessed 18 January, 2021. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  8. Nair, Suresh., Sit, Yit Fong. “Winnifred Teo Murder: $50,000 Reward Offer”. Singapore Monitor. May 28, 1985. Accessed 19 January, 2021. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  9. Nair, Suresh. “Slain girl may have been attacked by more than one person”. Singapore Monitor. May 25, 1987. Accessed 18 January, 2021. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  10. "200 policemen spare no effort in manhunt". The Straits Times. May 28, 1985. Accessed 29 January, 2021.
  11. Nair, Suresh. “Police probing motives for slaying of girl jogger”. Singapore Monitor. May 24, 1985. Accessed 19 January, 2021. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.