SEREMBAN, Malaysia: A Franco-Irish teen who disappeared from a Malaysian resort likely starved and died of internal bleeding after about a week in the jungle, with no immediate sign of foul play, police said Thursday.
There was no indication that 15-year-old Nora Quoirin, who had learning difficulties, was abducted or sexually assaulted, they said, announcing the results of an autopsy.
But the lawyer of her family, who believe she may have been abducted, said it was too early to rule out a criminal element in the case.
Her unclothed body was discovered Tuesday in a ravine in dense jungle following a 10-day hunt involving hundreds of people, helicopters and sniffer dogs.
She went missing from the Dusun Resort, not far from Kuala Lumpur, on August 4, a day after checking in for a holiday with her London-based family.
Speaking after the post-mortem examination, Negeri Sembilan state police chief Mohamad Mat Yusop told reporters the teen suffered “bleeding in her intestines due to not eating” as well as “extreme stress.”
The schoolgirl is believed to have died two to three days before her body was found, he said.
“For the time being, there is no suspicion of foul play,” he said.
There were “some scratches on her body” after days in the rainforest, but nothing suspicious, he said. “The parents can claim her body.”
Police had classified her disappearance as a missing persons case.
But the family’s French lawyer, Charles Morel, told AFP that “at this stage for the family, it is premature to rule out a criminal element.
“We need to wait to find out all the results from the autopsy to know more.”
Her body was airlifted by helicopter out of the ravine — about 2.5 kilometers (1.5 miles) from the resort — and transported to hospital in Seremban town where her relatives identified it.
Medics conducted a long autopsy Wednesday, starting in the morning and only finishing late at night, as a media pack waited outside the hospital for news.
In a statement released Wednesday by The Lucie Blackman Trust, a charity that supports relatives of British people missing overseas, her relatives said she was the “heart” of the family.
“She is the truest, most precious girl and we love her infinitely. The cruelty of her being taken away is unbearable. Our hearts are broken.
“We will always love our Nora.”
While insisting it was a missing persons case, police vowed to investigate every angle. They questioned witnesses and investigated witness accounts of a truck heard early on the morning the girl disappeared.
A group of volunteers who were part of the search and rescue team found the body after being tipped off by a member of the public.
It was discovered in the official search zone, in an area that the team had previously covered.
On Monday, the family had offered a 50,000 ringgit ($11,900) reward, donated by a Belfast business, for information that could lead to her return.
The five-hectare (12-acre) resort where the teenager disappeared is next to a patch of thick jungle and in the foothills of a mountain range.
Her family had said it was extremely unlikely the reserved youngster would have wandered off on her own.
She had a condition known as holoprosencephaly, where the brain fails to develop normally. She had limited verbal communication and could only write a few words.
She attended a school for young people with learning and communication difficulties.