US researcher's death: Singapore police to cooperate with FBI as diplomats meet

Justin Ong
Shane Todd, an electronics engineer was found dead in his Singapore apartment last year. (Yahoo! file photo)

[UPDATED 12 Mar, 9pm: Singapore police will work closely with FBI, as diplomats meet]

Singapore police have reiterated that they are working together with the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on the death of an American researcher, as top diplomats from the two countries are set to meet.

The Singapore Police Force said Tuesday it will take into account any information the FBI may independently gather as well as share its evidence with them, in accordance to the laws of both countries. This comes as parents of Shane Todd have informed Montana senators Max Baucus and John Tester of the incident.

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Law K Shanmugam will meet US Secretary of State John Kerry during his four-day visit to Washington DC beginning Tuesday. The diplomats are set to discuss ways to further bilateral cooperation.

According to an article on Greta Wire
, a site on Fox News Channels' blog network that belongs to the channel's news commentator Greta Van Susteren, the channel has learnt that John Kerry met senator Baucus on 8 March over the death of Shane Todd. As of press time, no mention was made by Singapore and US diplomatic offices if Todd's death will be part of the discussion.

Earlier, Singapore police sought the FBI's help in its investigation into the death of American Shane Todd after its request for evidence from Todd's family did not receive a response.

“In response to media queries, a Police spokesman said that the Singapore Police Force (SPF) had earlier sought the Todd family’s assistance to share any evidence in their possession so that the facts surrounding the death of Shane Todd can be thoroughly investigated. If they were not comfortable handing evidence in their possession to SPF, they could seek the FBI’s help to review the evidence. As there has so far been no response to this request, SPF has sought the FBI’s assistance to engage the family and for FBI to examine the evidence," said a Singapore police spokesman in a statement to Yahoo! Singapore.

"SPF will continue to engage the Todd family, and look forward to their cooperation so that all the relevant facts can be considered during the coroner’s inquiry.”

This comes as Todd's family continues its search for answers after and have rejected local police's requests for a hard drive they had found in their son's apartment after his death.

American Shane Todd was found hanging in his Singapore apartment in June last year, in a case local police deemed as suicide.

But in a report by the Financial Times (FT) on Friday, Todd’s parents, Mary and Rick Todd, raised questions about their son's death that remain unanswered.

Todd, an electronics engineer, had worked with Singapore’s Institute of Microelectronics (IME).

His mother says that at work, he was “being asked to do things that made him uncomfortable", FT quoted her as saying.

His girlfriend knew that he was increasingly stressed about the nature of his research.

Todd resigned from IME sometime later. Days before his death, he was offered a job by a US research firm working with the US defence department and NASA. On his final working day, Todd was last seen at a farewell lunch with his IME colleagues who described him as looking upbeat.

After acquiring Todd's external hard drive by chance and obtaining a second opinion on his autopsy report, the family now suspect foul play.

They question suicide notes that praised IME (which he purportedly disliked), bruises on his body and proof that his hard drive had been accessed after his death.

The Singaporean investigation is still ongoing, but attempts by the Todds to work with local police, the IME and the US embassy have been reportedly fruitless.

Singapore police have asked Todd’s family to hand over his hard drive, but they are offering, instead, to send a copy of its contents. In exchange, they want a copy of all files on Todd’s laptops, which remain in police custody.

They are also asking the police to invite the FBI to help investigate their son’s death.

On 17 Feb, local police released a statement in response to the FT report. Here it is in full:

"The Police investigate all unnatural death cases thoroughly, working closely with the pathologist and other relevant experts, and no prior assumptions are made on the cause of death. Our procedures for investigating cases, particularly those involving death of persons, are strict and of high international standards. We have handled this case in the same way as other cases that Police have looked into.

“All crime scene locations which have the potential for recovery of evidence are handled with care and are protected from interference of any kind so as to preserve any trace evidence. The sites are secured by Police for the duration required for scene examination and evidence collection. The conditions and items found at the crime scene are carefully recorded in great detail, as well as conserved and removed for subsequent laboratory analysis.

“The Financial Times article mentioned a hard disk which was purportedly recovered by Mr and Mrs Rick Todd from their son’s residence. To ensure the investigations are as thorough as possible, we urge any person who has evidence in their possession that can assist in our investigation to share them with the Police. All relevant evidence gathered by Police will be tendered at the Coroner’s Inquiry once the investigations are completed . The Coroner will independently determine the circumstances under which Mr Shane Todd came by his death taking into account the investigation findings and other evidence. During the open inquiry, the family of the deceased may question the witnesses and the relevant reports, including the pathologist report. As investigations are ongoing, it is inappropriate for the Police to comment further on the case.

“Since the death of Mr Shane Todd, the Police have engaged and assisted the family without impeding the objectivity of our investigation process. We will continue to do so. Police have also kept the American Embassy and FBI informed of this case.”

Yahoo! Singapore has attempted to contact the IME but could not reach anyone.

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