Coroner enters open verdict in case of 34-year-old woman found dead in condominium

SINGAPORE: A coroner has issued an open verdict in the death of a 34-year-old woman who was found dead in a condominium apartment after neighbors reported a foul smell.

Ms Marisa Zhang Yan Ni, marketing manager at ERA Singapore, lived alone at L’viv Condominium in Newton Road, according to a set of findings made available on Monday (October 3).

The condominium manager called the police on April 5 this year, saying that they had not been able to reach Ms. Zhang since the previous Saturday and that residents had commented on a foul smell coming from the building. unity.

A friend of Ms. Zhang, named only Mr. Soh, had also gone to the unit to look for her because he had not been able to contact her for several days.

The apartment was locked when the police descended that morning and a locksmith was hired to dismantle the lock.

When the policeman entered the only bedroom in the apartment, he found the decomposed body of a woman in a nightgown, lying sideways, her feet on the bed, her lower torso slumped against the bed and the head resting on the ground. .

She was pronounced dead the same morning, but inquests revealed she had died about a week ago.

Police investigations revealed no signs of vandalism or marks on the door or lock indicating a break-in. There was an unopened blue package outside the main door, a brownish stain on the living room curtain, a small bloodstain on the wall outside the bedroom, and brownish stains under the toilet bowl. The stain on the curtain and the toilet bowl contained Ms. Zhang’s blood and DNA.

Various types of medicine prescribed to Ms. Zhang were found outside the bedroom, while her refrigerator contained beer cans and liquor bottles were found on the living room table.

The body was identified as Ms. Zhang’s through fingerprint identification, but an autopsy could not determine the cause of death due to advanced decomposition.

TOXICOLOGICAL ANALYSIS

Samples of Ms. Zhang’s liver and kidneys were taken for toxicology analysis and showed the presence of ethanol, quetiapine and trazodone. Quetiapine is an antipsychotic used to treat schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and depression, while trazadone is used for depression.

The alcohol level in Ms. Zhang’s body tissues was quite high, indicating a possibility that she had consumed alcohol. However, it was not possible to correlate the level of alcohol found in the decaying tissue samples with consumption.

It also could not be determined whether the levels of quetiapine and trazadone in Ms. Zhang’s body were consistent with therapeutic levels or indicative of an overdose.

Ms. Zhang’s medical records showed that she had a history of insomnia and was under the care of a psychiatrist. She was noted to be consuming excessive amounts of alcohol at home and was seen at Khoo Teck Phuat Hospital Acute and Emergency Care Center in July 2020 for alcohol poisoning.

She was treated at a clinic for her irregular menstrual cycle in August 2020 and was then noted to have a history of alcohol abuse and addiction to sleeping pills.

She was admitted to hospital in December 2021 with a deep laceration to her foot caused by a shard of broken glass. She was released after several days, refusing antibiotics after being advised not to mix them with alcohol.

SHE CONSUMED ALCOHOL REGULARLY WITH SLEEPING PILLS

Mr. Soh, who went to his apartment to pick up Ms. Zhang, testified that Ms. Zhang used sleeping pills and alcohol daily to relieve her insomnia. She mentioned being treated for depression and had a propensity for skipping meals because she wanted to be lean, he said.

He said she had a tendency to injure herself due to her unsteady gait after taking sleeping pills, and attributed the bloodstain on the living room curtain to the December 2021 incident where she cut her foot .

Another close friend of Ms. Zhang said that Ms. Zhang took sleeping pills and drank a lot of alcohol to treat her insomnia. In the months leading up to her death, the friend said Ms. Zhang grew increasingly confused about what she was doing and fell asleep in random places.

The director of ERA Singapore, who has been Ms Zhang’s supervisor since 2012, said Ms Zhang regularly took sleeping pills prescribed by a psychiatrist she had been seeing since 2016.

She was observed to drink heavily and usually consumed her sleeping pills with wine, the officer said. He said that Ms. Zhang was clumsy and often fell over after drinking a lot of alcohol, with her palms and knees covered with bruises or abrasions.

Condominium entry records showed that Ms. Zhang had no visitors in the two weeks before her death other than Mr. Soh. There were a total of five food deliveries for Ms. Zhang between March 22 and March 27 this year.

Ms. Zhang’s sister, who lives in Beijing, said she last spoke to her sister in a video call on March 28. They talked about Ms. Zhang’s sister’s wedding. Ms. Zhang was last seen online on WeChat at 1:25 a.m. on March 29, 2022.

She said that Ms. Zhang had a relationship, but it ended when the man was married. According to Ms. Zhang’s sister, Ms. Zhang appears to have “handled” the breakup well. Ms. Zhang’s sister knew that Ms. Zhang consumed a lot of alcohol and suffered from insomnia.

The coroner said Ms. Zhang was not known to have expressed suicidal or self-harm tendencies.

“Circumstances suggest that Ms. Zhang died shortly after 1:25 a.m. on March 29 and before the foul odor that allegedly permeated (the floor where the apartment was located) on the night of April 4,” she said.

She issued an open verdict as pathologists are unable to determine the cause of death and conveyed her condolences to Ms. Zhang’s family for their loss.