A hiker who helped find the body of missing teen Nora Quoirin has told how she looked as ‘if she were sleeping’ when she was discovered lying close to a stream.
Sean Yeap, a volunteer taking part in the search for the 15-year-old, told how her naked remains were found Tuesday lying by a riverbed and that her head was resting on her hands.
Nora went missing on the first day of a family holiday to a Malaysian eco-resort on August 4 before her remains were discovered a short distance away 10 days later.
Sean Yeap, a volunteer who helped find the body of Nora Quoirin in Malaysia, said she was found with her head resting on her hands close to a river on Tuesday
Mr Yeap said Nora ‘looked as if she was sleeping’ but it was clear that the 15-year-old was dead, prompting two members of the search team to break down crying
He also revealed that Nora’s body was not hidden or covered over with foliage, raising questions over why teams which had previously searched the area were unable to find her
Parents Sebastien and Meabh, who were on holiday with Nora and her siblings Innes, 12, and Maurice, eight, when she vanished, have said they are heartbroken at her death and described her as ‘the truest, most precious girl.’
Speaking about the moment the body was discovered, Mr Yeap told Mail Online: ‘It looked like she was sleeping. Her head was resting on her hands.
‘But we all knew she was dead.
‘It was very sad and two women in the group did not want to come close and they started crying.’
The body of the teenager was formally identified by her parents at a hospital in the town of Seremban on Tuesday night.
The results of a post mortem to determine cause of death are set to be revealed later today.
Nora’s death is still be treated as a missing person case by police, but a parallel criminal investigation remains open.
A spokesman for the Lucie Blackman Trust, which had been helping the family with their search, said Sebastien and Meabh are questioning whether their daughter was killed before her body was dumped at the location where it was found.
Mr Yeap raised similar questions, saying that the body was not hidden or covered with foliage and that search teams which passed through the area on previous occasions would have found it, if it had been there.
Mother Meabh and father Sebastien (pictured centre left) have said they are heartbroken following the discovery of Nora’s body, and want to know whether her remains were dumped
Kenny Chan (left), Shirley Yap (centre) and May Lou (right), who were also among the search party which found Nora, give a statement to the press
‘I could see the body. She was lying with her hands behind her head like you do when you go to sleep. There were some scratches on her arm and some bruises but otherwise there were no injuries,’ he said.
‘I am not sure, but I think she had been dead a few days.
‘I think maybe she was elsewhere and walked to the stream perhaps to drink some water.
‘The place where she was found is not easy to find. I wonder if she had been following the stream as there were no footprints which means she could have been walking in the water as it was not very deep.’
A statement issued by Nora’s family said: ‘We would like to thank all the people that have been searching for Nóra and trying their best to find her.
‘We thank the local people here and those far and wide for their prayers and support at this time. Nóra has brought people together, especially from France, Ireland, Britain and Malaysia, united in their love and support for her and her family.
‘She has truly touched the whole world. To all our friends and family at home, we can’t thank you enough for all your love.
‘Nóra is at the heart of our 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 Nóra.’
Family lawyer Sankara N. Nair added that the girl’s relatives are ‘highly traumatised following the loss of their child. They are in a state of shock’.
Mr Yeap, an insurance salesman, was with a group of 24 experienced hikers who had left the Dusun resort to look for Nora on the 10th day of the search having volunteered to join experienced search and rescue teams.
Led by team leader Kenny Chan, the men and women set off to follow a trail on a palm oil plantation about 1.2miles from where Nora disappeared on August 4th.
He said they met an Indian man who told them he was familiar with the area and would assist them.
They followed a trail through the oil plantation when one of the group said he could smell a strong odour coming from the jungle.
Emergency services and rescue workers arrive at the Dusun Resort, where Nora went missing from her family’s apartment on August 4
Police commanders brief their men on the search for Nora on Tuesday, just hours before her naked remains were discovered
A member of a Malaysian Fire and Rescue Department looks at a map during a search and rescue operation for 15-year-old Nora Quoirin
It was then they came across tragic Nora’s body.
Searchers found the body near a waterfall that the missing schoolgirl had excitedly talked about visiting.
Yeap and the others, including housewife Shirley Yap, stood back from the shocking discovery and waited for police.
Two of the group began crying and were comforted by others.
‘We knew not to touch the body and let the police do their work,’ he said.
‘The police took about 40 minutes to get there and sealed of the scene. We all had to make statements at the police station.’
The schoolgirl’s grandfather, Sylvain Quoirin, who is a mayor in France, had previously said it was ‘unthinkable’ Nora would have wandered off alone because of the severity of her learning difficulties.
She had a condition known as holoprosencephaly, where the brain fails to develop normally, had limited verbal communication and could only write a few words.
She attended a school for young people with learning and communication difficulties.
Yeap, a Chinese/Malay who spoke through an interpreter, said he feels nothing but sadness for Nora’s parents.
‘I feel so sorry for them but I am glad that we were able to find the body and they did not have to wait even longer to know what happened.’
Other member of the group who belong to the Kepayank Hiking Club read out a statement that they said was the ‘truth’ of what took place.
Since Nora’s body was found rumours have swirled particularly as she was found naked.
Shirley Yap, 50, read from a prepared statement describing how the group had formed a line either side of trail towards a stream.
She fought back tears when asked to describe finding the body.
‘It is not good. It sad to see a body like that,’ she said.
Sankara N. Nair, lawyer representing Nora’s family, tells the press that her parents are ‘highly traumatised following the loss of their child’ and in a state of shock
Describing the lead up to finding the body, Yap said they had spread out either side of a path and followed a trail through an old palm oil plantation.
After searching for 30 minutes they followed the trail downhill towards a stream.
She said: ‘One of our members saw the body lying across the small stream and called out. All of us turned back to where the body was found.
‘We stopped 10m from the body and all knew we should not stop too close to the scene of the body and waited there for the police to arrive.
‘It was hard for the police to find us as the area was quite inaccessible.
The place where Nora was found remained sealed off by police today.
Before Nora’s body was found mother Meabh, who is from Northern Ireland, and Sebastien, who is French, attended Mass at the Catholic church in the city of Seremban, 10 miles from their holiday home.
Father George Harrison, who held the service at the Church of Visitation, said he prayed with the pair and gave them a blessing.
Speaking to the Mirror, Father Harrison said the pair were ‘calm and staying strong’ and that an additional prayer will be said for Nora this Sunday after her body was found. Father Harrison may also bless Nora’s body.
The family had been staying at the Dusun resort which is popular with local tourists and located in an area known as the Pantai hills.
The resort offers guided tours to the Lata Berembun waterfall, involving a 20-minute trek to the jungle entrance and a further one-hour walk along a defined jungle trail.
Nora (pictured) was discovered dead yesterday next to a waterfall she had spoken excitedly about visiting
The deputy chief of Malaysia’s police force Mazlan Mansor had earlier said that officers have so far found no evidence of criminal behaviour.
But he refused to confirm whether Nora had suffered any injuries or if anybody else may have been involved in her death.
He described Nora as ‘completely naked’ but ‘intact’ when she was found, adding it was too soon to determine how long her body had been at the scene.
Nora’s parents, who have lived in London for 20 years, had previously expressed fears that the schoolgirl had been abducted and had put up a £10,000 reward for information. Mrs Quoirin, 45, held back tears during a statement in which she said the family’s ‘hearts are breaking’ without her.
‘Nora is our first child. She has been vulnerable since the day she was born,’ she said.
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.
During the search operation, rescuers had also played Mrs Quoirin’s voice through loudspeakers in the hope her daughter would hear, saying: ‘Nora, darling, Nora, I love you, Mummy is here.’
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.
The search for Nora had involved up to 350 staff from various government bodies over a period of ten days, alongside helicopters and drones equipped with thermal imagining technology.
British, Irish and French police had been dispatched to Malaysia to join the search. Scotland Yard said it was ready to deploy remote support.
The Dusun resort, located around 39 miles south of Kuala Lumpur, is nestled in the foothills of the Titiwangsa Mountains and borders the Berembun Forest Reserve.
The jungle is home to an array of harmful animals, including snakes, biting insects, tigers and wild boar.