Johor Baru murder-suicide: My brother was a loving husband and caring father, says brother

Halim Said

JOHOR BARU: The brother of the dead man in the murder-suicide case in Mutiara Rini, Skudai here does not believe that he could have hurt his own family or committed the murder.

P. Seeladorai, who is the elder brother of Pubalan Retnam, 53, whose body was found along with the bodies of his wife and two children at their home, said that Pubalan was a loving husband and a caring father.

P. Seeladorai. Pic by HALIM SAID.

"My brother moved to Johor Baru from our family's hometown in Baling, Kedah 10 years ago, and he tried his hand at a wine distribution business in Johor.

"In the last two years, his business was not doing well and he was forced to juggle work, taking care of his family and looking after his wife, Jeya Pichamuthu, who was sick due to kidney ailment. "She was unable to do heavy house work and was bedridden," said Seeladorai, 56, when met at the Sultanah Aminah Hospital mortuary.

He said that Pubalan had asked money from him and their other siblings to help him tide through his financial constraints.

Family members of the deceased seen waiting at the Sultanah Aminah mortuary. NSTP pic.

Seeladorai said he did ask too much about the details of Pubalan's financial constraints.

"My brother told me that he spent more than RM100,000 to pay for his wife's kidney treatments in the past two years.

"He said that he was in need of money and his business was not doing well to pay for his wife's medical treatment.

"He didn't say how much debt he was in and we (family) did not want to intrude into his personal matters. We lent him whatever that we could give.

"He was burdened with a lot of things. But I do not believe that he could have murdered his own children whom he loved so much," he said.

Seeladorai, a teacher, had arrived from Baling yesterday after his sister informed him about the incident.

Pubalan was found hanged by a cloth from the ceiling of an upstairs bedroom in his two-storey terrace house in Rini Residences, Mutiara Rini, Skudai here at about 2.30pm yesterday.

His wife Jeya, 46, who was said to have been sick due to kidney ailment for the past four years, was found dead on a bed placed beside the living area on the ground floor. She had no injury on her.

Their son Sharveen Pubalan, 14, and daughter Krishaa Priteena, 9, were found dead with strangulation marks on their necks and were lying side by side in another bedroom with a prayer altar on the first floor.

Police said that Pubalan's friend discovered the bodies as he had an appointment with Pubalan at the house. The case is being investigated for both murder and sudden death.

Seeladorai said his siblings had originally planned to gather at Pubalan's house for Deepavali on Oct 18 to bring them some cheer as they knew that Jeya would not be able to travel far for the celebration.

"It's very unfortunate that we did not get to celebrate Deepavali with him and his family. My siblings and I agreed to travel to Johor to spend Deepavali with Pubalan's family as we know his wife was sick.

"We wanted to cheer him up by visiting him on Deepavali," he said, adding that Pubalan was the youngest of seven siblings.

He said that Pubalan had moved into the new double-storey terrace house in Rini Residences, Mutiara Rini in December last year after moving from their previous rented house in Skudai.

Seeladorai said that the remains of the entire family will be sent for cremation in Bukit Jana, Kamunting in Taiping, Perak where one of their sister lives.

He said that the family is awaiting for their bodies to be released after the post-mortem, which is expected to be completed later today or tomorrow.

A check at Pubalan's house on Saturday revealed that the gate was locked. An orange Naza Suria was parked inside with several of children's clothes still hanging out to dry on the clothes line.

A next door neighbour, who only wanted to be known as Mala said she was close to Jeya, but was unaware of her husband's financial difficulties.

"She was a nice woman. Her children would play with my children. Her illness did not allow her to do much work or go out of the house.

"In recent months, she was hospitalised a few times. I rarely saw her at home

"It breaks my heart that she is dead. And it is so tragic that her family is gone," she said.

A security guard M. Yasuraj, 30, said he befriended Pubalan since he moved into the neighbourhood last year and got to know about his financial problems.

"He seemed sad and burdened a lot of the time. Since his house is near the guard post, he used to sit at the guard post and stare into space.

"He told me once about his money problems but I just tried to console him and just listen," said Yasuraj.

"He had a small lorry for work and two cars, the Honda City and the Naza Suria but unfortunately the lorry and the Honda City were taken away," claimed Yasuraj.

Meanwhile, Iskandar Puteri police chief Assistant Commissioner Noor Hashim Mohamad said police were still investigating.

He added so far no official complaints have been made regarding claims of the dead man owing any money to anyone else, or if he was strapped with big debts.

"If there is a complaint or information regarding the case, please make a police report so that we may investigate such claims as every piece of information counts," he said.

He said investigation would not be conducted based on hearsay or claims and the person who borrowed the money must come forward to the station to have his or her statement recorded as it will facilitate police in completing the case investigation," he said.

Noor Hashim said the investigation remains under Section 302 of the Penal Code for murder base on initial findings that there was strangulation marks on the two children's bodies, while a sudden death report was being opened for Pubalan's and Jeya's death, for now.

He added that the police are still waiting for the full forensic post-mortem report on the four bodies, which is being carried out at the Sultanah Aminah mortuary since this morning.

"Among other things, we need to determine the wife's cause of death. "We need to know if it was due to natural causes or illnesses or had there been any criminal act which led to her death," he said. © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd