The search for Nora Anne — agonising 10 days met with heartbreaking result

Police confirmed that a female body was found in the jungle area yesterday

by ALIFAH ZAINUDDIN/ pic by AFP

A 10-DAY search and rescue (SAR) operation to find missing Irish teenager Nora Anne Quoirin came to a devastating end yesterday after the Negri Sembilan state police chief confirmed to have found her body. Here is how the gruelling 10-day search unfolded.

Saturday, Aug 3

Nora Anne, 15, flew in to Kuala Lumpur (KL) from London with her father and two siblings for a two-week summer holiday. Her mother, Meabh Quoirin, joined in at the airport in KL from Singapore.

The family left together to the Dusun Pantai Hill Resort in Seremban, Negri Sembilan. The resort is located at the foothills of the Titiwangsa mountains and next to a forest reserve.

Sunday, Aug 4

Nora Anne was reported missing from her bedroom which she shared with her siblings. Nilai district police chief Supt Mohamad Nor Marzukee Besar confirmed that a police report was lodged over the girl’s disappearance at the resort.

“Based on a preliminary police probe, the family — comprising a couple and three children from Ireland — had checked in to the resort at 7am on Aug 3. However, the family found one of the children named Nora Anne missing from her room at 8.30am the following morning,” he said.

A man claiming to be Nora Anne’s uncle also posted on Facebook about her disappearance.

Monday, Aug 5

Police said they have stepped up efforts to find Nora Anne. Personnel from Jabatan Sukarelawan Malaysia and the Royal Malaysian Police Air Operation Force joined the SAR operation.

“We’re working with all the police departments and fire service to locate the teenager,” a police spokesman said. It was learnt that Nora Anne had a learning disability. The Irish embassy in KL said it was providing consular assistance to Nora Anne’s family.

The Dusun said its management and staff had searched the 12-acre (9.3ha) property and were working with the police to locate Nora Anne.

Tuesday, Aug 6

Police widened their search for Nora Anne and dismissed kidnap claims. The case was still classified as a missing person case as there was no evidence found to suggest that she was abducted.

Earlier, the Lucie Blackman Trust, a British charity supporting people in crisis abroad, said the matter was being investigated as both a missing person case and an abduction case, citing discussions with Nora Anne’s family.

“She may just be lost,” Negri Sembilan police chief Datuk Mohamad Mat Yusop said. At this point, more than 178 people, a helicopter and canine units had joined the search for Nora Anne.

Police said Nora Anne could not have gone far from the resort. The search followed riverbeds downhill from the resort, as police believed she may seek out water sources.

Wednesday, Aug 7

Investigators believed Nora Anne was still within the jungle vicinity despite claims by the indigenous people or Orang Asli community that she was no longer in the surrounding area.

Negri Sembilan deputy police chief SAC Che Zakaria Othman said police had not obtained any other information or leads that suggest other possibilities.

However, he added: “Even though we are investigating this as a missing person case, we are not ruling out any other criminal possibility at this point.”

Police later confirmed that several sets of fingerprints were found on a window panel from which Nora Anne was believed to have exited from. Investigations were carried out to ascertain the identity of the person they belong to.

Thursday, Aug 8

Police confirmed that Nora had exited the resort from the glass window. The forensics team was still trying to establish if the fingerprint samples belonged to a criminal or an outsider.

The police force were using a voice recording of Nora Anne’s mother, hoping it would help coax Nora to come towards the search team as police said she could be hiding in fear.

Each team from the SAR operation was equipped with a bullhorn, while some even used their phones to play the recording in the jungle. The words expressed in the recording were: “Nora darling, I love you…mum is here. Mum is here, Nora darling, my love.”

Police had so far recorded the statements of 20 individuals to facilitate investigations.

Friday, Aug 9

The Bukit Aman Criminal Investigations Department (CID) looked through phone records and email exchanges made from the Dusun.

Investigators from the CID team scrutinised every incoming and outgoing communication made from the resort as part of their investigation.

Police also checked with the Immigration Department and found that there were no records to suggest Nora Anne had left the country.

Saturday, Aug 10

Nora Anne’s parents made their first public appearance on the eve of Hari Raya Aidiladha.

Meabh expressed her family’s deep gratitude to the team of searchers who sacrificed their time to find her special needs daughter who had been missing exactly one week.

“We want to say ‘thank you’ to each and every one of you. We know you’re searching night and day for Nora. We see you working so hard and also praying with us and being with us. You have given up your time, especially at a special festival time,” she said.

Sunday, Aug 11

Deputy Inspector-General of Police Datuk Mazlan Mansor paid a visit to Nora Anne’s rescue team on the ground to boost their spirits. He also spoke to the Irish teen’s parents and relatives and was shown around the Dusun.

Police activated a hotline to enable members of the public to share information that could assist the ongoing SAR operation for Nora Anne. The hotline was managed by a team at the Pantai police station in Seremban.

Monday, Aug 12

Nora Anne’s parents offered a reward of RM50,000 for any information leading to their daughter’s return.

Two police officers from the UK and another officer from Ireland also arrived to assist the local authorities. The search focused on Gunung Berembun and the number of personnel increased to 348, given that it was a bigger search area.

Among the agencies involved were various units of the police force — including its elite force VAT 69 — the Senoi Praaq, K9, the Fire and Rescue Department, the Forestry Department and volunteers.

Tuesday, Aug 13

Police confirmed that a female body was found in the jungle area. At 4.17pm, Nora Anne’s parents were brought to the scene for identification. “The body is still intact and fair skinned,” state police said.

The Lucie Blackman Trust also said the body likely belongs to Nora. “At this time, we cannot confirm it is Nora. However, it sadly seems likely,” the trust said.