Singapore — It was in 2002 when 14-year-old Tina Lim Xin Ying headed out to visit her grandfather but she did not get there or return home.
This cold case (an unsolved criminal investigation) of a missing individual has baffled many.
Tina’s mysterious story, which began on June 22, 2002, was recently revisited by media such as the Chinese-language newspaper Lianhe Zaobao.
According to zaobao.com, Tina, who lived in Choa Chu Kang Avenue 4, had nothing to do during her school term break so her father, Mr Lim Boon Kee, advised her to visit her sick grandfather in Jurong. Her father said he would pick her up the next day.
However, Tina did not reach her grandfather’s house. Her aunt mentioned this in a phone call to Mr Lim the next day. Mr Lim called their relatives, Tina’s friends, her school and the police in hopes of getting information on her whereabouts.
Mr Lim did not think his daughter ran away from home as she had less than S$50 with her and did not take extra clothes or her passport. Tina was last seen dressed in a T-shirt, shorts and slippers. She also had a blue-and-white haversack.
Mr Lim printed and distributed about 7,000 flyers with his and his daughter’s details and spent more than S$1,000 on local newspaper advertisements. He searched all of Tina’s favourite hangouts, such as Lot One and Jurong Point. He also tried looking for her in Ipoh, Penang, Sarawak and Thailand, according to a mothership.sg report.
Mr Lim had told The New Paper (TNP) that “maybe she fell into bad company”. Tina was not doing too well in her studies. He also shared the family’s worry that she could have been drugged or kidnapped.
Although there were numerous responses on his advertisements, Mr Lim was left with no definite leads. Two months into the disappearance, Mr Lim told TNP: “Whatever it is, this must come to an end. I must at least get an answer. Otherwise, it’s pure mental torture. If someone has her, please let her go. Maybe she’s too scared to come back. If she has run away, I promise I will not scold her or beat her if she comes back.”
About a year after her disappearance, Tina’s grandfather passed away. An obituary was placed in the newspapers, including an appeal through Shin Min Daily News for her to return and pay her last respects to her grandfather. It was his dying wish to see his granddaughter one last time, said Mr Lim.
On the last day of the wake, Mr Lim received a call. Although there was silence at the other end, he instinctively knew it was his daughter. He asked if it was her and she confirmed it. Tina said she wanted to see her Ah Gong (grandfather).
Mr Lim said: “I asked who she was with and she said she couldn’t say. She also said she couldn’t come back because someone wouldn’t let her … She said she was in Singapore, but didn’t know exactly where, except that the place was very dark.”
His family received 10 calls from the same source that night, allowing them to record two of the conversations.
According to a TNP reporter who heard one of the recordings, the caller had spoken in a hoarse whisper followed by muffled sobbing. It was as if she was afraid someone would overhear the conversation.
The police managed to trace the phone calls to a Pasir Ris address. However, the police determined that Tina could not have made the calls from that location after interviewing the family that lived there.
Meanwhile, Mr Lim and his family were sure that it was Tina that they had talked to, despite not verifying her identity. On a positive note, the call did renew the family’s hope that she was alive.
Three years into her disappearance, Mr Lim offered a S$3,000 reward for any leads on his daughter’s whereabouts but to no avail. In 2010, seven years after her disappearance, Tina was presumed dead.
Here is the 2018 post by Crime Library Singapore illustrating this cold case.