The Unsolved Murder At Amber Beacon Tower: A Couple Ambushed During A Date In 1990

MS Unsolved: The Attack On Kelly Tan And James Soh At Amber Beacon Tower

Disclaimer: MS Unsolved is a series that hopes to raise awareness of cold cases in Singapore and generate new leads. If you have any information on the cases, reach out to MS News or the police.

Kelly Tan Ah Hong and James Soh Fook Leong were on their first date like any other young couple in the 90s, taking in the scenic views from the Amber Beacon Tower in East Coast Park.

Source: @amyscrypt on X

They chatted away at the tower’s spiral staircase, unaware of the horrendous events that would unfold later that night on 15 May 1990.

Two men ambushed the couple and attacked them with weapons in a gruesome assault that left Kelly with a deep wound on her neck and James with a stab wound to the back.

While the latter pulled through after getting help from a nearby restaurant, Kelly was not so fortunate.

To this day, the identities of the two assailants remain a mystery.

A senseless attack at a popular spot for couples

The Amber Beacon Tower at East Coast Park was a popular date spot for young couples at the time.

22-year-old James Soh had asked 21-year-old Kelly Tan out for a date just two days before the unfortunate incident.

According to The Straits Times (ST), the pair had been chatting at the bottom of the spiral staircase.

Source: The Straits Times via NewspaperSG

At around 10.30pm, two men walked past them to get to the upper level. They returned to ambush the couple 15 minutes later.

Kelly had attempted to run away and was chased by one of the men. Meanwhile, the other assailant stayed behind to attack James, who instinctively attempted to defend himself.

James received a deep wound to his back, which barely missed his spinal cord.

Kelly had made it a short distance away before receiving a fatal blow to the left side of her neck.

After the two assailants fled the scene, James struggled to bring his girlfriend to the nearby Singa Inn Seafood Restaurant to ask for help.

James managed to request help from the restaurant employees before falling unconscious.

Paramedics then rushed him to Singapore General Hospital where he fortunately pulled through.

Kelly , on the other hand, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Tragic end for childhood friends

Kelly and James had met almost a decade ago when they both enrolled at Yio Chu Kang Secondary School and became classmates.

The two remained friends even after James enrolled in an electronic engineering course at Ngee Ann Polytechnic.

After finishing secondary school, Kelly helped out in her father’s wholesale vegetable business.

The couple only got together during James’s third year in poly and selected Amber Beacon Tower for their first date.

Speaking to AsiaOne in 2015, James said that he remains haunted by the incident. He was still baffled as to the cause of the attack.

Theories behind the attack at Amber Beacon Tower

There were several speculations behind the motive of the attack, though these theories lacked concrete evidence.

Firstly, police suspected that the attack was an attempted robbery that turned violent. There were several reports of robberies in the area at the time.

The police also theorised that it could have been an act of revenge.

However, both Kelly and James were well-mannered individuals and did not have any feuds in the past.

Without proper evidence and clues, the police were left stumped and were unable to make any headway in investigations, since the murder weapons were never recovered.

Source: Explorer SG

Two years after the incident and a coroner’s court hearing in April 1992, Kelly’s family put up a S$30,000 reward for any information that could lead to the arrest of the attackers.

Her family also made an appearance at the end of a Crimewatch episode in June 1992 to appeal to the public for any information that could help in the arrest of the perpetrators.

In a 1992 report by ST, police said that there had been several calls about the case.

However, none of them provided concrete information that could lead to arrests or convictions.

All that’s known of the assailants was their rough appearance including their hair and height — as described by James.

Both assailants were slim and believed to be in their 20s. Additionally, one attacker was about 1.73m tall with short hair while the other was around 1.67m with curly black hair.

James also reached out to the public again during his interview in 2015 for any new information.

Not too late to bring the attackers to justice

An incident taking place over 30 years ago does not mean it can’t be solved today — hope remains for any new information that could make breakthroughs in investigations.

Just like how new information was brought forward in 2021 regarding the rape and murder of 7-year-old Lim Shiow Rong in 1995, there is always a possibility for closure to be brought to Kelly’s and James’ families.

If you or anyone you know may have valuable information, reach out to MS News or the police to help put the case to rest.

Also read: The Unsolved Murder Of Winnifred Teo: The S’porean Jogger Who Never Came Back In 1985

The Unsolved Murder Of Winnifred Teo: The S’porean Jogger Who Never Came Back In 1985

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Featured image adapted from Native and The Straits Times via NewspaperSG.

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