The family of Nora Anne Quoirin, who has learning and physical disabilities, discovered her missing from the Dusun eco-resort in southern Negeri Sembilan state on Aug. 4, in a case that has baffled police and turned up no evidence so far. Police believe the teen climbed out through an open window in the living room of the resort cottage, and have listed her as a missing person but do not rule out a possible criminal element.
Negeri Sembilan deputy police chief Che Zakaria Othman said the search team has been expanded to 348 people, with the hunt now shifted to the nearby Berembun forest reserve. He said police from Ireland, France and the U.K. arrived a few days ago to assist in the investigation but declined to give further details. The girl's mother is from Ireland and her father is French, but the family has lived in London for 20 years.
The girl's mother, Meabh Quoirin, said a Belfast-based company has donated 50,000 ringgit ($11,900) for information that directly helps police find Nora. "Nora is our first child. She has been vulnerable since the day she was born. She is so precious to us and our hearts are breaking, We are appealing to anyone who has information about Nora to help us to find her," she said.
Police earlier released a video showing a shaman wearing a white skullcap and several of his assistants performing rituals in the forest. Shaman Khalid Mohamad said he believes the girl was lured by a genie, an invisible spirit believed by Muslims to inhabit the Earth and influence mankind by appearing in the form of humans or animals.
He said in the video that the genie was attracted to the girl because she has special needs and had chosen Quoirin as its step-child. The video showed the shaman crying and appealing for the girl's return.
"Tonight I will ask for the spirit to return her from where (she was taken) and the condition they took her but they will ask for something in exchange. That will be between me and them. Most important now, the child will be released," he said in the video.
Quoirin's family arrived Aug. 3 for a two-week stay at the Dusun, a small resort located in a durian orchard next to a forest reserve 63 kilometers (39 miles) south of Kuala Lumpur. Her parents believe she was abducted because she isn't independent, has difficulty walking and has never wandered off on her own or become lost despite having been to other Asian and European countries before. They said she was born with holoprosencephaly, a malformation that causes her to have a smaller brain and has led to learning and physical disabilities.
The search operation has included aerial searches, thermal detectors, sniffer dogs, indigenous trackers and elite commando forces. Rescuers on Friday also began playing voice recordings of the mother to try to draw the girl out as they combed the hilly forest terrain. A police forensic team is still analyzing fingerprints found in the cottage where the girl went missing.