KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — A Malaysian coroner ruled Monday that the death of a French-Irish teen whose body was found near a Malaysian jungle resort where she vanished while on vacation was most likely a misadventure that didn’t involve other people.
Coroner Maimoonah Aid ruled out homicide, natural death and suicide and said Nora Anne Quoirin likely got lost after leaving her family’s cottage on her own.
The 15-year-old disappeared at the Dusun eco-resort in southern Negeri Sembilan state on Aug. 4, 2019, a day after the family arrived for a vacation. After a massive search, her naked body was found on Aug. 13 beside a stream on a palm oil estate about 2.5 kilometers (1.6 miles) from the resort.
Police believed she climbed out of the cottage window on her own, with no evidence of any foul play. But the teen’s parents said she was likely kidnapped because she had mental and physical disabilities and wouldn’t have wandered off on her own. They told the inquest that a third party could have dumped her body in the area following the search operation for her.
The coroner described the family’s suggestions as “nothing more than probably theory” with no evidence.
Nora Anne was clad only in underwear when she went missing, but her body was found naked. The coroner noted the family’s contention that this lent credence to the possibility of sexual assault but said an extensive autopsy could find no such proof, nor evidence of struggle marks or smothering.
Maimoonah also said there were no suspicious circumstances prior to the teen’s disappearance, no ransom request and no signs of intrusion into the family cottage.
“I ruled that there was no one involved in the death of Nora Anne. It is more probable than not that she died by misadventure, i.e. that she had gone out of the (cottage) on her own and subsequently got lost in the abundant palm oil plantation,” the coroner said.
Nora Anne’s parents were listening to the online verdict from their home in London, but gave no immediate statement.
A British pathologist who performed a second autopsy on Nora Anne’s body in the United Kingdom testified that he agreed with the Malaysian findings that she died of intestinal bleeding due to starvation and stress. However, he said he couldn’t fully rule out sexual assault due to severe body decomposition.
Maimoonah said Nora Anne, who was sleeping in the loft with her siblings, could have been woken by the heat or loud noises from a party at another cottage nearby and gone downstairs to find her parents.
But the coroner said the teenager may not have been able to open the heavy sliding door to her parents’ bedroom and could have then gone out of the cottage. Her mother had testified that a cottage window, with a broken latch, was found opened the morning Nora Anne disappeared but the coroner said she could have pushed it open by accident.
Rescuers may have overlooked Nora’s body due to the thick jungle terrain, Maimoonah added. The autopsy estimated that she died between two and four days before her body was discovered.
A total of 49 witnesses have testified over 24 days since August last year via video-conferencing due to the coronavirus pandemic.