Mystery surrounds the death of Irish teenager Nora Quoirin after her naked body was discovered less than 2km from a resort in the Malaysian rainforest where she vanished 10 days ago.
The 15-year-old’s remains were discovered by a volunteer at around 2pm yesterday following a painstaking search operation after she disappeared from the Dusun eco complex.
Nora, who had special needs, was reported missing by her father Sebastien on August 4, the morning after the family of five had arrived at the hotel.
On Monday, Nora’s mother Meabh had made a heartfelt appeal to find her as a reward of more than €10,000 was offered for information leading to her safe return.
Her body was found close to a stream near the Lata Berembun waterfall in a mountainous area in the rainforest just 1.6km from the Dusun eco resort.
According to Matthew Searle, CEO of the UK-based Lucie Blackman Trust charity which is acting as a liaison between the London-based family and the media, Nora told her family that she wanted to see a waterfall during her holiday to Malaysia.
Acting on this previously undisclosed information, a volunteer searcher combed the area near the waterfall and made the grim discovery.
Nora’s Belfast-born mother Meabh Quoirin and French father Sebastien Quoirin endured the grim task of formally identifying their daughter’s body which had been airlifted to the Tuanku Ja’afar Hospital in Seremban, about 70km from the capital Kuala Lumpur.
“They are absolutely broken,” Mr Searle told the Irish Independent.
National deputy police chief Mazlan Mansor said yesterday that the body “was not in any clothings” and while it remained a missing persons case, police were looking into all possibilities including the “angle of criminal investigation”.
The police investigation will now focus on her final movements and a post-mortem examination, which is due to be conducted today, may provide clues as to how she died.
The rugged area where her body was found had been searched previously as part of a massive search operation that swelled to around 350 people as fears grew for the missing girl.
Many questions remain over how the special needs teenager vanished from the resort on the first night of a two-week family holiday and the subsequent discovery.
The search party of around 350 people involved local tribesmen, a helicopter equipped with thermal imaging equipment, sniffer dogs, divers and drones.
A liaison officer from An Garda Síochána, officials from Scotland Yard as well as the UK’s National Crime Agency, and Interpol were also involved in the search for the schoolgirl.
A tape recording of Nora’s mother with the heart-wrenching message: “Nora darling, I love you, Mum is here,” was also played over megaphones in the jungle in an attempt to find Nora in case she had got lost.
Local police had acted on the theory that Nora’s disappearance was that of a missing persons case, although they did not rule out the possibility of foul play.
However, Nora’s parents insisted from the beginning that they believed their daughter was abducted and may have been taken from an open window of the cottage where they were staying.
They offered a €10,000 reward – donated by an anonymous business in Belfast – on Monday for any information leading to their daughter’s safe return.
Meanwhile, a forensics team cordoned off the area where the body was discovered after winching the remains to a helicopter to remove it from the dense bush.
Mr Searle – whose charity helps families of people who die or go missing abroad – said the area where Nora was found “may have been covered in the early part of the search”.
But why her body wasn’t found earlier – especially when sniffer dogs were deployed – remains a mystery.
“It may have been they just got lucky,” he said of the discovery yesterday.
However, how Nora – who was born with the congenital brain defect holoprosencephaly and had severe developmental delays – died was not disclosed by police, pending the outcome of today’s autopsy.
“We have no indication as to how she died,” said Mr Searle, who is speaking on behalf of the Quoirin family.
However, he said there were no reports of obvious damage to her body – from a struggle, injury or mauling by an animal.
“We heard the body is in good condition. We’ll know more tomorrow,” he said last night.
Meanwhile, her heartbroken family has appealed for privacy to come to terms with her tragic death.