It's normal for friends, let alone best friends, to have disagreements. We've all had, in one way or another, our fair share of disputes with our friends—and both sides are still alive to tell the tale. Unfortunately, that isn't the case for two Filipinas who were working in Singapore. They were best friends that helped each other out while being in a foreign land, but when a fight broke out due to money, one of them ended up killing the other—in one of the most grisly ways possible.
On September 9, 2005, cleaner Marie Yee Marutham found a blue and red oblong sports bag lying near the Orchard MRT station exit. Upon unzipping the bag, she saw a woman’s face. Turns out, it was part of a severed head that was put into a red plastic bag. There were two other black trash bags that contained arms, which have been severed above the elbow, and legs.
Another civilian made a grisly discovery while on his way to the bus stop. Near the MacRitchie Reservoir canteen, he found a black trolley bag—inside it was the rest of the dead woman’s body.
After 12 hours, the police had a suspect in custody—29-year-old Filipino maid Guen Garlejo Aguilar, a mother to two young sons. She was arrested at her employer’s eighth floor apartment at the SunGlade condominium. An 18cm cleaver in a red plastic bag was taken from the flat wherein the murder was believed to have taken place.
The victim was Guen’s best friend, 26-year-old Jane Parangan La Puebla, who also worked as a maid. She is a mother to a 9-year-old boy. The police were able to identify her based on the fingerprints from the hand found in the sports bag.
The following day, Guen was charged with murder. There were different speculations as to why she could do such a thing to her best friend, but the one that stood out the most was the possibility of a love triangle. The two women were often seen at a popular maid hangout next to Orchard MRT station with a local Indian man. The rumors were how both of them were vying for his affections.
The real reason behind the killing was actually a dispute over money.
Two days before Jane’s remains were found, she and Guen were going about their day as they usually did. They were talking about their problems when Guen brought up the $2,000 that Jane owed her.
Guen suggested that for Jane to be able to pay her back, the latter should sell her digital cameras. However, Jane got agitated and raised her voice at Guen. Guen tried to calm her down, but when she mentioned selling the cameras again, that’s when the two women started to fight. They pulled each other’s hair and grabbed each other’s necks. Guen even bit Jane on her right forearm.
The fight ended up in the bedroom with Jane’s blood smearing the walls, floor, and mattress. According to Guen, she grabbed a cushion from her bed and used it to smother her friend. After a while, she started crying when she thought Jane was dead. However, Jane started moving again, and that’s when Guen strangled her until she stopped breathing.
Over the next two days, Guen hid Jane’s body in a luggage bag inside her room. While her employers were at work, she went out to buy a chopper, axe, black trash bags, gloves, latex (to wear while dismembering the body), bolster, two pillowcases, bedsheet to replace the blood-stained bedlinen, and the green wallpaper that matched her employers’ flat.
After coming home, Guen proceeded to dismember Jane’s body then placed Jane’s head, arms, and legs in separate plastic bags. Afterwards, she stuffed the bags with newspapers then placed them in a travel bag. Guen scrubbed the place clean that had traces of Jane’s blood. For stains that were hard to remove, she covered it up with the wallpaper she bought.
At midday, she brought the bag containing Jane’s head and limbs to Orchard Road then dumped the bag near the Orchard MRT station, near where she and her friends used to meet every Sunday. She went back to the flat then took with her Jane’s torso that was placed inside a luggage bag. She went to MacRitchie Reservoir to dump the bag near a bus stop along Lornie Road.
Guen’s charges were reduced from murder to manslaughter—meaning, she no longer faced Singapore’s mandatory death sentence for murder—after her defense lawyers had written to the Attorney-General’s Chambers, stating that the death resulted from grave and sudden provocation, and that Guen was found to be mentally unstable, suffering from depression. She pleaded guilty. She was sentenced to 10 years in jail. Supreme Court Justice V.K. Rajah ruled that a life sentence would have been clearly inappropriate as it appeared that Guen had recovered from depression.
According to the judge, Justice V.K. Rajah, Guen’s conduct in dismembering Jane’s body was grotesque and abominable, and yet, it was as if Guen was hardly trying to conceal Jane’s death. Guen placed the victim's head and torso in very public places, which strikes as the workings of a “tortured mind.”
Do you want to know about a politician cult leader who apparently killed his own wife? Check out The Killing of Alona Bacolod-Ecleo and the Bacolod Family Massacre episode of PH Murder Stories.
ABOUT PH MURDER STORIES