KUCHING, March 20 — The news that four-year-old Eric Chang Wei Jie was missing followed by the allegation that he was murdered and tossed into the ocean had shocked Sarawakians.

The following is a chronology of events from the disappearance of the child until a multi-agency search was launched in Muara Tebas, where his body was supposedly disposed of.

March 79am: Eric’s mother realises he is missing from his caretaker’s house at Taman Riverview, Bintawa.

7.42pm: Mother lodges a missing person’s report at Bintawa Police Station.

9.30pm: Community leader, Kapitan Chung Chong Chong leads a group of Village Security and Development Committee (JKKK) members on a search in Taman Riverview as well as Bintawa Village and Bintawa Industrial Zone.

SUPP Youth secretary-general Milton Foo holds up the missing child’s photo during the press conference. Seated next to him is the boy’s mother. — Borneo Post pic
SUPP Youth secretary-general Milton Foo holds up the missing child’s photo during the press conference. Seated next to him is the boy’s mother. — Borneo Post pic

March 9

> Eric’s mother appears at a press conference called by Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) Youth secretary-general Milton Foo. They appeal to the public to help to search for the child.

> Eric’s female caretaker and her husband are arrested by the police.

March 10
> Police detain Eric’s parents to assist in investigations over the child’s disappearance.

March 12
> Magistrate’s Court in Kuching approves four-day remand order for Eric’s parents, his caretaker and her husband.

They are to remain in police custody until March 16 to assist investigations under Section 31(1) of the Child Act 2001 for ill-treatment, neglect, abandonment, or exposure of children.

March 13

> In a press statement, Kuching district police chief ACP Ahsmon Bajah says Eric is believed to have been murdered and his body dumped into the Sarawak River at Muara Tebas here.

The caretaker and her husband were further remanded to assist in the investigation, after she had purportedly confessed to police that she knew what had happened to Eric.

She and her husband were then brought by police to the Muara Tebas jetty where the child’s body is believed to have been dumped.

Case reclassified under Section 302 of Penal Code for murder. Search is launched.

Police cordoning off the jetty where the body of Eric was allegedly dumped on March 13. — Picture by Roy Emmor via Borneo Post
Police cordoning off the jetty where the body of Eric was allegedly dumped on March 13. — Picture by Roy Emmor via Borneo Post

March 14

8am: Search operation for Eric at Muara Tebas Wharf, Kampung Muara Tebas enters the second day, with a team comprising 12 personnel from the police, Fire and Rescue Department (Bomba) and Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA).

10am: Foo and Bintawa community leaders call for a second press conference, urging the public to refrain from speculating on the alleged murder as investigations are still ongoing.

3.45pm: Police allow Eric’s parents and relatives on the wharf. Eric’s mother breaks down and cries for her son to return. They had actually gone to the wharf at noon but were turned away as they failed to identify themselves.

Bella from the Fire and Rescue Department’s K9 unit, being deployed to search for the missing boy on March 15. — Picture courtesy of Fire and Rescue Department
Bella from the Fire and Rescue Department’s K9 unit, being deployed to search for the missing boy on March 15. — Picture courtesy of Fire and Rescue Department

March 15

> ACP Ahsmon says in a statement that Eric’s parents were released on police bail on March 14. He said the caretaker and her husband were still on remand until March 16, and the police will seek further remand under Section 302 of the Penal Code.

> Search for Eric resumes at Muara Tebas with K9 unit called in.

March 17
> Eric’s caregiver and her husband further remanded until March 24.

March 19

> Search for Eric in Muara Tebas called off at 6pm, ACP Ahsmon announces in a press statement

“Despite taking alternative measures to overcome the hurdles present in the search, the limitations caused by the weather, wild animals, tides, and structure of the land has constricted our searching efforts,” he said.

He said investigations, however, will not end and he urged members of the public with information to come forward. — Borneo Post