(NEW YORK) — The parents of an American found dead in Singapore say their son did not commit suicide and instead believe he was slain in a case that has become an international mystery.
Montana native Shane Todd, 31, was an engineer working for a top technology firm, Institute of Microelectronics (IME), in the island nation when he was found dead in his apartment in June. Local police ruled it an apparent suicide.
After learning of their son’s death, Rick and Mary Todd flew to Singapore, but what they found at his apartment did not add up to what they had been told by police.
“I know he was murdered and then they just hung him on a door,” Mary told ABC News.
The bathroom where Shane was found hanging did not match the description given by the police, the Todds say. Police say Shane concocted an elaborate pulley system involving a series of ropes and screws in the wall. But when his parents arrived in Singapore, they said, something didn’t add up.
“I saw no screws in the walls, no ropes, no pulley. I called the police immediately and I said the description you gave me does not line up with the physical evidence,” Mary said.
The alleged suicide note, which the police said they found on his computer, was impersonal and not in Shane’s tone, according to his brother, Dylan Todd.
“Shane would have his fingerprints all over anything that he would write down to on paper to us that were his final words and those fingerprints just weren’t there,” Dylan said.
The Todds had a U.S. pathologist examine their son’s body and said he found bruise marks that indicated their son died after a struggle.
“His hands were showing that he was in a fight,” Rick said.
Shane’s parents also found a backup hard drive that they say contained evidence that suggests their son might have been inadvertently caught up in a plot to transfer sensitive technology to China. They say their son told them in the weeks before he died that he feared for his life, and had quit his job.
Shane’s family said he recently resigned from his position at Singaporean tech firm IME’s research department and made preparations to move back to the United States.
“Then he started saying, ‘Mom if you don’t hear from me, then call the American Embassy. I feel like my life is being threatened,'” Mary said.
Shane said his work on superconductors for IME might have been passed to China’s Huawei corporation, for use in systems that could involve jamming U.S. radars, she said.
IME shot down the Todd family’s speculation, telling ABC News in a statement overnight that neither IME nor Shane was involved in any classified research project working with China, and that they deeply grieve his loss.
The circumstances of Shane’s death and his employer’s connection to a Chinese corporation known to the U.S. government as a national security concern have pushed the incident into the public sphere.
Singapore Minister of Foreign Affairs K. Shanmugam said Singapore police would share with the FBI evidence they had been withholding. Shanmugam also said IME would be open to a U.S. audit of its activities. The announcement came after meetings with Secretary of State John Kerry on March 12.
Shanmugan also met with Montana Sen. Max Baucus, a Democrat, who along with that state’s other senator, Jon Tester, also a Democrat, has been pushing for U.S. investigators to take the lead in reviewing the case.
In a news conference before the meeting, Baucus said progress on the case has been slow, and that he’d press the foreign minister to allow the FBI full access to the evidence in the case.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Seth Fiegerman, CNN
Matt McFarland, CNN
Joe Sterling and Darran Simon, CNN