Nora Quoirin’s family said last night there are ‘many unanswered questions’ over her death and they still believe the tragic teenager may have been abducted.
They have urged police to open a criminal investigation, despite detectives insisting the 15-year-old wandered into the Malaysian jungle by herself and starved to death a week later.
Family lawyer Charles Morel believes ‘criminal involvement’ cannot be ruled out and told the Mail it was highly improbable that Nora voluntarily disappeared from the family’s holiday lodge. And the schoolgirl’s grandfather Sylvain Quoirin insisted there were ‘dark areas that need to be cleared up for the family to be able to grieve in peace’.
The naked body of Nora, who had serious learning difficulties, was found by a hiker near a waterfall on Tuesday – ten days after she went missing.
The ravine where she was found – which is only 1.6 miles from the lodge – was repeatedly searched by rescue teams during the first seven days of her disappearance. Police have been unable to adequately explain why she was missed.
Nora Quoirin’s family said last night there are ‘many unanswered questions’ over her death and they still believe the tragic teenager may have been abducted
Sylvain Quoirin, Nora's grandfather, believes someone put Nora’s body there ‘to get rid of her’, adding: ‘She wasn’t there yet [during previous searches]. Someone put her there’
Nora Quoirin's parents, Meabh Jaseprine Quoirin (3-L) and Sebastien Quoirin (C) talking to the police during search and rescue operations for 15-year-old Nora
To compound their agony, Nora’s family were told that she was still alive during the search. A post-mortem examination found that she died from intestinal bleeding caused by hunger and stress – ‘two or three days’ before her body was found.
Police have also been unable to explain why Nora was not wearing the underwear she had on when she was last seen by her parents, Meabh and Sebastien Quoirin, at bedtime on August 3.
Mr Morel said the Malaysian authorities must not rule out a ‘criminal hypothesis’ just because of the importance of tourism in the region.
He added: ‘The family are just concerned to find out the truth. There are many unanswered questions and we cannot exclude criminal involvement.
‘Nora was found where people have already searched. If she was alive for that long, then it is possible that she met somebody. We cannot exclude anything at this stage. In view of the importance of Malaysia’s image for tourism, the authorities may tend to favour the theory of a disappearance over the criminal hypothesis.’
Mr Morel said Nora’s disability made it highly unlikely that she left the lodge at night and walked to the bottom of a ravine via ‘an extremely steep path through the jungle’ by herself.
Sean Yeap, a volunteer who was among the party which found Nora's body, said she was lying with her head resting on her hands and looked like she was asleep
Shirley Yap (far right) described how two members of the search team which found Nora broke down in tears after discovering the body
Nora Quiorin, the 15-year-old schoolgirl found dead in the Malaysian jungle Tuesday, survived for a week before dying of intestinal damage caused by starvation, police revealed
The teenager had a smaller than average brain and struggled to act independently, having been born with Patau’s syndrome, or holoprosencephaly. The condition left her struggling to complete everyday tasks and with limited speech, walking ability and co-ordination.
‘One of the effects of her condition is that she was very dependent on her parents,’ said Mr Morel, who is based in Paris.
‘She was shy, she was quickly scared, she had travelled for 18 hours and she was exhausted.
‘So there is no reason why she would leave the lodge in the night, almost naked. There is no previous episode in her life to suggest she might do something like this.’
Emergency services and rescue workers arrive at the Dusun Resort, where Nora went missing from her family's apartment on August 4
The 15-year-old's body was discovered near this jungle waterfall after a 10-day search involving hundreds of police and volunteers, helicopters and sniffer dogs
Police commanders brief their men on the search for Nora on Tuesday, just hours before her naked remains were discovered
Malaysian search and rescue teams pictured at the scene where a body was found in the hunt for missing fifteen-year-old Nora Quoirin
Sylvain Quoirin, the mayor of a small town in Burgundy, believes someone put Nora’s body there ‘to get rid of her’, adding: ‘She wasn’t there yet [during previous searches]. Someone put her there.’
He dismissed theories that Nora could have wandered outside on her own. He said: ‘Can you imagine her walking 2.5km, naked and barefoot, over rocks, in the middle of the night? For me, that’s absurd.’
Nora’s uncle Pacome Quoirin, a graphic designer, added: ‘How could she have survived for five days in the jungle without food or water, if you believe the theory that she left the hotel on her own? We remain very dubious.
‘The findings that were announced in no way discredit a criminal act. She could have been kidnapped and fed at the beginning. There is insufficient evidence to jump to definitive conclusions.’
A lawyer for parents Meabh and Sebastien said they are still concerned their daughter was abducted and are waiting for the results of DNA and toxicology tests to decide whether or not to pursue a criminal probe
Nora Quoirin's remains were found Tuesday after 10 days missing in the Malaysian jungle, before police said a post-mortem showed she was alive for a week before dying of starvation
Four pathologists carried out a 12-hour post-mortem at Tunku Jaafar Hospital (pictured) before the results were revealed Thursday
Nora’s body was found in a sleeping position close to a stream at the foot of a ravine on Berembun mountain, 1.6 miles from an eco-resort where her family were staying.
Nora, from south London, had travelled to the Dunsun resort, about 39 miles south of Kuala Lumpur, on August 3 with her parents, sister Innes, 12, and brother Maurice, eight. After going to sleep with her siblings in an upstairs bedroom, she was discovered missing by her French father shortly after 8am the next day.
Police were left with no clues apart from a large downstairs window that had been left ajar. Detectives believe she climbed through the window and then got lost.
State police chief Mohamad Mat Yusop said the results of the post-mortem examination reinforced his belief that Nora was not abducted, and instead died of starvation after getting lost.
The naked body of Nora, who had serious learning difficulties, was found by a hiker near a waterfall on Tuesday – ten days after she went missing
Malaysian police chief Mohamad Yusop insisted that Nora was alive and evaded searchers for six days in the jungle before they moved on, then discovered her body when they returned to the previous search area after 10 days
Family members arrive at the hospital where Nora's body was taken after it was discovered in the Malaysian jungle
‘For the time being, there is no element of abduction or kidnapping,’ he said. ‘The cause of death was upper gastro-intestinal bleeding. It could be due to a lack of food for a long period of time and due to prolonged stress.’
He also confirmed that the search and rescue team did cover the area where Nora’s body was found during the first seven days of the search and suggested she could have been on the move at the time.
In an attempt to reassure Nora’s family, Mr Yusop added: ‘We will continue to investigate and find out what really happened.’
Mr and Mrs Quoirin, a data analysis firm salesman and market research company director, met in Northern Ireland and the family live in Streatham, south London.
KEY QUESTIONS THAT STILL NEED ANSWERS
- Did Nora leave the holiday lodge alone, given her family insist she was incapable of doing so – physically and mentally – and was highly dependent on her parents?
- Did local police take seriously enough the Quoirins’ insistence that abduction was the most likely explanation for her disappearance?
- How many times did the search party visit the ravine where Nora’s body was found?
- When did these searches take place, and could the timings have allowed her body to have been deposited there at a later time, as has been suggested by her grandfather?
- Why was Nora found naked given that she was wearing underwear when she went to bed the night before she disappeared?
- Have police found any of her clothes in the jungle?
- If Nora was alive and lost in the forest for a week, why did she not respond to recorded messages from her mother which were played over loudhailers from the fifth day of the search?
- Why were thermal imaging drones only deployed on August 9 – the sixth day after the alarm was raised?