SINGAPORE: A United States high-tech researcher whose family claims he was murdered in Singapore was under treatment for depression and left suicide notes before he was found hanged, a public inquiry was told on Monday.
Senior state counsel Tai Wei Shyong, opening a coroner’s inquest into the death of electronics engineer Shane Todd, said that there were no signs of foul play in the apartment where his body was found.
Todd’s parents, who are taking part in the inquiry, believe he was killed in connection with his work for a Singapore research institute with alleged links to a Chinese firm accused of involvement in international espionage.
Huawei Technologies, a Chinese telecom giant, and Todd’s former employer, the state-linked Institute of Microelectronics (IME), have denied collaborating on any project involving Todd, who was 31 when he died.
Todd’s body was found by his girlfriend, Filipino nurse Shirley Sarmiento, at his apartment in the evening of June 24, 2012, setting off a saga that reached the highest levels of the US and Singapore governments.
Tai said police who responded to an emergency call from a woman who heard Sarmiento scream found Todd’s body hanging from an improvised noose suspended from the top of a bathroom door.
“They did not observe any signs of foul play,” he said.
Police found a handwritten note with a password to Todd’s laptop computer, which was found to contain messages to his family, friends and girlfriend, Tai said.
The state counsel cited one note addressed to “Mom and Dad” as saying: “As you know, I have been going through a difficult time and I am facing problems that I don’t know how to solve. I just know how much of a burden I will be to you in the future so I feel it is better to do this now rather than wait until I have caused more damage.”
The inquiry is limited to determining the cause of death. Hearings are to be held until May 28 and a verdict is expected by late June.