Money and Health Issues Likely Behind Death of Family

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A mountain of debts and his wife’s sickness are believed to have driven a man to take his wife’s and two children’s lives before he hanged himself in their home in Johor Bahru.

  • Man hanged himself with a Dhoti cloth tied to the ceiling
  • Wife died of suffocation
  • Children strangled with a belt
  • Man left behind note
  • Wine and liquor distribution business did badly in last 2 years
  • Apparently owed RM1 million in debts
  • Spent more than RM100k on wife’s kidney treatments past 2 years
  • Wife’s medical treatments between RM5k-RM6k monthly
  • Moved into RM700k house in gated residential area last December
  • Ah Longs seized his Honda City and a lorry 3 days earlier
  • Described as a pleasant neighbour, responsible family man who loved his wife and children
  • Wife described as nice woman, housebound and bedridden with illness
  • Remains claimed by man’s brother, cremated in Taiping

 “Thus far, police have not found any criminal elements from the investigations carried out at the scene,” Johor police chief Mohd Khalil Kader Mohd said.

“Initial investigation also found that there were two issues at hand, the first was financial problems and the second, the illness suffered by the wife. However, we are still waiting for the complete report to support the theory,” Mohd Khalil said.

Last Friday, Pubalan Retnam, 53, Jeya Pichamuthu, 46, P Sharveen, 14, and P Krishna, 9, were found dead at their double-storey link house at Rini Residence, Mutiara Rini, at 2.30pm.

The body of Pubalan was found hanging from the ceiling of a room on the upper floor of the house.

His wife, who was diagnosed with a kidney ailment and undergoing hemodialysis treatment, was found dead on a bed near the living room on the ground floor.

The bodies of the couple’s children were found lying side by side in another bedroom with a prayer alter on the first floor.

Iskandar Puteri police chief ACP Noor Hashim Mohamad said the post-mortem on Jeya found she died due to suffocation.

“There were red spots on the neck muscles, lips and eyes, which can be caused by pressing a soft object or cloth to block the airway,” he told reporters.

He said the post-mortem on the husband confirmed that he died from hanging.

“Pubalan ended his life by hanging himself with a Dhoti cloth that had been tied to the ceiling of one of the upstairs bedrooms,” Noor Hashim said.


The post-mortems on the children showed they died due to strangulation, which was consistent with the finding of a small belt at the scene which was believed to have been used to strangle them.

Noor Hashim added that police were still pursuing investigations into the case but so far there weren’t any indications anyone else was involved.

Neither were there any signs of a break-in, he said.

Noor Hisham said police’s suspicion that the husband was the killer was based on several factors, including a note written in Tamil that was found on a dressing table in the same room where he had hanged himself.

Statements from neighbours suggested that the family was facing financial difficulties as Pubalan had to spend a lot of money for his wife’s medical treatments.

“According to neighbours, the problem began almost four years ago and worsened two years later due to his failing business.

“This means that he did not have enough money for the treatment of his wife’s illness,” Noor Hisham said.

The tragic event rocked the usually quiet upper-middle-class residential neighbourhood.


It was learnt that Pubalan, who hailed from Baling, Kedah, moved to Johor 10 years ago. He used to operate a shop in Skudai that did well initially but over the past two years, his wine and liquor distribution business declined.

In addition, his wife suffered from kidney and other ailments, needing between RM5,000 and RM6,000 a month for medical treatments.

The family moved into the gated residential area last December after years of renting a home in Skudai.

It is understood that the house, valued at an estimated RM700,000, was bought by Pubalan.

C Kumaran, 46, said he was shocked when told of the incident involving his immediate neighbour.

“At first, I thought that only Pubalan’s wife passed away as she had been bed-ridden with kidney disease for over two months.

“I couldn’t believe that the entire family of four was dead,” Kumaran was quoted as saying by the Malay Mail.

Kumaran said Pubalan was a pleasant neighbour and mostly kept to himself, but those that knew him said he looked disturbed over the past two months.

Another 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,” Mala said, New Straits Times reported.

Security guard M Yasuraj, 30, said he befriended Pubalan since he moved into the neighbourhood and got to know about his financial problems. He said Pubalan had confided in him that he owed about RM1 million.

“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,” Yasuraj told NST.

Roslan Khamis

The guard said he listened to Pubalan talking about his problems and tried to console him but was unable to help him.

He added that Pubalan was a responsible family man who loved his wife and children.

Yasuraj said three days before the incident, Ah Longs went to Pubalan’s house and seized a Honda City and a lorry. The family had a Naza Suria which was not taken.

Pubalan’s elder brother Selledorai, 56, said he rushed to Johor Baru with other relatives from Sungai Petani in Kedah after their sister in Taiping informed them of the tragedy.

“My brother (Pubalan) was the youngest in our family of seven siblings and we constantly kept in touch.

“It’s a sad moment for us as the rest of our siblings planned to travel to Johor Baru to celebrate Deepavali with him,” Selledorai was quoted as saying.

Selledorai, a teacher, said his brother had been looking forward to the family reunion despite being in low spirits due to his financial problems and wife’s health issues.

“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.

Halim Said

“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,” Seeladorai told NST.

As for Pubalan’s wife, he said, “She was unable to do heavy housework and was bedridden,”

The remains of all four had been claimed by Seeladorai and taken to Taiping for cremation.


Police are investigating the case for both murder and sudden death.

Noor Hashim Mohamad said so far no official complaints have been made regarding claims of the dead man owing any money to anyone.

“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.

Earlier report: Oct 7, Man Strangles His Two Children, Hangs Himself, Wife Also Found Dead