CrimeRocket Releases Book on Nora Quoirin Exactly 3 Weeks after the British Teenager was Found Dead in the Malaysian Jungle

NOT ALL WHO WANDER ARE LOST is an assessment of Nora Quoirin’s seemingly inexplicable disappearance and death from a true crime perspective. Using tried and tested psychological analysis and profiling techniques, investigative photojournalist Nick van der Leek joins the dots while finding new puzzle pieces.

The mission is to solve the mystery of the ten-day disappearance of Nora Quoirin in early August 2019, in central Malaysia.

What happened to Nora?
Why was she so hard to find?
What role did holoprosencephaly play in this case?
How did the fifteen-year-old from London die so close to where she was last seen without being seen by hundreds of searchers?

“This is not an attempt to lay blame, or to make accusations. True crime methodologies are often used to point out signs and symptoms of culpability. That’s not what we’re doing here. These tools can be used just as effectively to exclude theories unsubstantiated by forensic evidence – like phantom abductions. So this narrative isn’t a “who done it”; it’s about what happened to Nora. It’s about when. And explicitly – why.”

Thin-Slicing the Nora Quoirin Case: Whose fingerprints were found on the inside of the window?

Sometimes in true crime the crucial detail is also the most obvious. So when we look at the fingerprints in the Quoirin case, the key is were the fingerprints found on the inside of the window or the outside.

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An abductor coming from the outside would need to open the window from the outside, and so one would expect to see prints on the outside. Fingerprints on the inside are meaningless if the abductor came in from the outside, expressly through the window as the entry/exit.

There’s another, more obvious reason for a logic failure, which we’ll get to in a moment. Before we do, let’s spend a little time getting to know how these counterfeit narratives get their start in true crime.

True Crime Rocket Science is all about thin-slicing. With sufficient experience, one can sometimes – often – see at a glance what’s wrong, or why something may not be suspicious at all.

At the same time, a decent researcher can see why someone might be putting out a particular narrative. If it’s a deliberate misdirection [and it might not be], what’s the misdirection away from? In other words, if we take the misdirection away [which is might be as well], what are we left with.

In the Quoirin case, if we remove the open window from the equation, what are we left with? More specifically, who are we left with?

Scroll through the grey highlighted text below to skip directly to the Quoirin case.

For reference, the same claims about broken windows, sinister fingerprints and rampant paedophile abductors were made in the Madeleine McCann case. Instead of thin-slicing those, let’s pretend each of these is a thick slice and examine each thick slice one-by-one.

THICK SLICING THE MCCANN CASE

n terms of the fingerprints, according to the official police files:

The fingerprint traces collected are identified as being the middle finger of the left hand (3x) and forefinger of the left hand (2x), of the missing girl’s mother. 
The fingerprint inspection was only carried out on the inside of the window… 

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One might argue that the police botched the investigation by not checking the outside of the window for prints. This might seem like a sensible argument, except the outside of the window was shielded by a shutter, and the shutter was dusted for prints. Only an imbecile would persist with these lines of inquiry, 12 years after the fact, suggesting that in so high-profile a case where everyone was desperate to find the abductor, if there was a print or a hair or a shoescuff, everyone would have known about it. The point is, there wasn’t.

In terms of the broken windows/shutters, these claims were quickly recycled through the media in an evolving narrative that can be read here.  5 months after these false and misleading claims were made, they were reversed. Whereas it was stated as fact that the windows/shutters were broken/jemmied/damaged, all of this was walked back to say, actually, there was no sign of damage whatsoever to the windows or shutters.

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The resort manager, John Hill, had maintained all along that there was no evidence of break-in either on the outside of the windows, or on any of the doors or locks.

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Original story here.

John Hill’s police statement here.

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THIN SLICING THE MCCANN CASE #1 – SHUTTERS DOWN

But it didn’t require a True Crime Rocket Scientist, a CSA checking for prints or a detective to look at the scene to figure it out. Crime scene photos showed the shutters down. Did the abductor really climb through the window, forget to step on the bed and disrupt the blankets, step out, and with his back to the parking lot, close the shutter behind him?

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THIN SLICING THE MCCANN CASE #2 – NO VISIBLE DAMAGE

Besides the closed shutter logic failure, there’s also the fact that the shutters weren’t obviously damaged. A cursory glance showed that. When someone breaks in, damahge to doors and locks is obvious. The intruder doesn’t have time to play nice, he must bust his way in quickly and as quietly as he can and get the hell out.

If the crime scene was so obviously not the scene of an abduction, how did it become one? For starters, those who wanted a particular narrative to stick were relying on the media and the public drinking the Kool-Aid that they were being given. They were relying on people not knowing the the simple intricacies of the scene, or checking for themselves. And they were hoping no one would think critically about the information.

The McCanns also had the early advantage in that they quickly had the ear of the media and the sympathy of the public. If a story got repeated enough, by enough media players and family and friends passing on the same thing, it became reality. It is the reality today, even if it’s not true. Truth and reality are two different things, one is scientific, the other a matter of preference, perspective and PR.

Besides the McCanns holding sway over the media, Portuguese laws prescriptively limited them from commenting on an active investigation. While the cops were hamstrung, it allowed the McCanns to get a head start on getting their narrative out there, and getting hearts and minds on their side.

THIN SLICING THE MCCANN CASE #3 – PATIO DOOR WAS UNLOCKED/OPEN ANYWAY

When the police finally released their case files a year later, nobody particularly cared about thin-slicing the detail and or correcting false impressions and misleading nuances. Did it really matter that the patio sliding door was unlocked all along?  Some reports suggested the patio doors weren’t only unlocked, but open. This would need to be the case if the McCanns wished to hear their children crying from a restaurant 77.38 metres away.

Would anyone in the media care about the embarrassing kindergarten logic, that if an abductor was lurking around, why would he need to open a window when the door was open? Why not enter and exit through the available exit?

Conversely, if he entered through the door, why wouldn’t he exit the same way, given he was carrying a fairly heavy child? It make no sense to use a window, or open a loud shutter, when he could more easily slip in and out of the door, and through a much more protected area?


THICK SLICING THE QUORIN CASE

Thanks to the Madeleine McCann Mythos we know that an open window qualifies as evidence of a child abduction.  That alone is enough to settle the question. In fact as an arithmetic reality it can expressed as follows:

open window = abduction

It’s also thanks to the same expert hero cop that provided this incontrovertible narrative in the Madeleine McCann case that we’re informed the aluminum window in the downstairs kitchen area of the Sora House unit at The Dusun Resort was damaged. This information wasn’t provided by Malaysian police on the scene, or by the Quoirin family, or staff at the resort.

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If we remain in thick-slicing mode, the obvious question is, assuming the window really was damaged, was it damaged the night Nora disappeared, or had it always been defective? In theory, a very simple and easy question to answer. So, why isn’t this aspect asked and answered?

We could spend time dealing with the murkiness of the moving window, you know, the fact that it was first reported upstairs, then in “Nora’s room”, and then downstairs. It’s incredible in a situation such as this, with the world watching and hundreds searching night and day, no one seems to know or care about where Nora was last seen – where Nora actually slept, or where the window was where she supposedly exited.

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It should also be noted that whoever wrote the above article referring to the police declining to say if the window could be opened from the inside deserves special credit for Zombie Reporting.

THIN-SLICING THE WINDOW NONSENSE

In the Quorin case, the window narrative as a whole is barking up the wrong tree. It’s the same tomfoolery and mindfuckery as in the McCann case, it’s just 1000 times more absurd. But yes, it does rely on incurious minds accepting what they are told and not going to check out the layout of the bungalow themselves.

Nora was abducted through the window, and there were prints on it, and that’s all there is to it. Cue the McCann experts with their expert crime busting formula:

open window = abduction

The key question is whether the window is the only way in or out?

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Why was she abducted from the window when the whole bungalow is open to the elements? Sora House is basically a transparent shoebox with the entire front elevation missing. The front balcony section has no windows and no ceiling.

Why would you need to open anything, or break anything when the bungalow itself was designed to be open as its unique selling concept. It’s designed to let the outside in, designed to be wide open to the elements.

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If Nora Quoirin could tell us what happened, it would probably sound something like this…

What does it feel like to be the person lost, and alone, for days, then weeks on end? Rita Chretien was stranded for 47 days, and survived. This is her story.

Missing Canadian tourist Rita Chretien found alive in Nevada – The Guardian

Rita Chretien back in Canada – CBC

Seven weeks in wilderness: Rita Chretien recalls her nightmare – The Globe and Mail

Rita Chretien says she was ready to die – Global News

‘Please help. Stuck. Al went to get help’: Handwritten notes left by woman found alive after seven weeks lost in wilderness – Daily Mail

Missing Canadian walked 9 miles before collapsing – Elko Daily

Rita Chretien, who was 56 at the time, was on the verge of starvation when antler hunters riding ATVs spotted the couple’s van. She survived the nearly seven-week ordeal on trail mix, hard candy and melted snow.

Albert Chretien’s remains were found west of his stranded vehicle and on the north side of Merritt Mountain, Elko County Sheriff’s detective Dennis Journigan said. Even though he was only 100 yards off the highway, the hike from the van would’ve been incredibly strenuous in 10 feet of snow, Journigan said.

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Nora Quoirin: 2 x GOFUNDME pages Disabled – Lucie Blackman Trust launches brand new Fundraising Page

On August 5th, after Nora Quoirin had been missing for one day, family representatives in Ireland and France started up two separate GoFundMe pages. They were ostensibly started for the purpose of “Finding Nora”, but the descriptions were explicit that funds raised might also go to paying for family members’ flights to and from Malaysia, as well as “unforeseen expenses”.

I seem to remember the page originally stating something about paying for accommodation as well, but I don’t have a screengrab of that section of the original. If it was part of the original it isn’t now.

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Soon after starting the GoFundMe, the person who started it – Meabh’s sister and both her children –  traveled to Malaysia. Although the GoFundMe states the reason for the fundraising was to “participate in the search and rescue effort”, on the ground there is no evidence this happened. There are no photos of any family members searching the forest, although there are photos of others guests’ families doing so.

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Nora’s body was discovered at midday on August 13th. The GoFundMes that were started to #FindNora nevertheless continued taking donations for the next two weeks, until it was deactivated on August 27th.

The Quoirin family, meanwhile, had already returned from Malaysia to an undisclosed location, presumably around August 20th, though details on when they left Malaysia remain sketchy. News reports suggest Nora’s body was flown home as early as August 17th.

On August 20th, the Lucie Blackman Trust closed the official fundraising efforts on their official page, and thanked the public for their overwhelming support while inviting them to join another initiative – the LBT Global Volunteer Network – with fundraising as part and parcel of their stated objective.

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Matthew Searle, the Quoirins spokesman, also diligently went to the closed group on Facebook – Nora Quoirin: Uncovering the truth – and posted this message, explaining the delay in closing the GoFundMe pages.

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It has subsequently come to light that the Quoirins hired a lawyer in Malaysia on the same day the twin GoFundMe’s were set up, and have also secured representation with a lawyer in France.

Thus far it appears they have not felt it necessary to do a second autopsy or pay for any additional investigation into their daughter’s “abduction”, even though Nora’s clothing was never found.  They have been saying all along that they believe foul play was involved, and that Nora was abducted.

It would be good to get full disclosure on precisely how and where the money raised for the purposes of finding Nora was actually spent, and also whether the reward promised the day before Nora was found dead, was paid by the hikers who found her in the jungle. And if it wasn’t paid to the hikers, what happened to that money?Fullscreen capture 20190816 133726

What impact did culture have on the search for Nora Quoirin?

On the surface, cultural differences are obvious differences when incidents take place in foreign countries. But do they have a material impact on the outcome? Do cultural differences mean investigations are conducted differently? I would wager they do, but not in the ways we tend to think.

Obviously the very notion of “cultural differences” is a sticky and sensitive area, and we need to tread carefully as we navigate into this minefield, but we wouldn’t be doing our due diligence as True Crime Rocket Scientists if we didn’t dive below the surface of this particular issue.

So, worth playing for?

Since culture is invariably subjective, I hope you don’t mind me indulging in my personal travels through Malaysia some years ago. Before we deal with that, though, I want to be quite plain about one thing. In terms of the meat and potatoes investigation stuff, there’s not much difference between a British, American, Portuguese, Italian or Malaysian person [cop or otherwise] walking on the ground, looking for someone that has gone missing. So that’s not the issue here.

It’s at higher levels, the level of institutions, organisations and power structures, that culture is more relevant. To explain how this works, I’m going to provide some personal insight based on actually being in Malaysia in general, and Kuala Lumpur in particular.


I spent a New Year’s eve in the centre of Kuala Lumpur, in the shadow of the Petronas Towers with my girlfriend at the time, a lawyer from Singapore. It was one of the strangest New Year’s ever, but it took a while it figure out why. For one reason, alcohol is banned in Malaysia. Not banned to infidel travelers mind you, just to the local mostly Muslim population.

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New Year’s that night felt weird because everyone was so well behaved. People arrived in great crowds to watch impressive fireworks shooting off and around the towers. Everyone oohed and aahed, then went home. No harm done. But no Hogmanay either.

In our hotel room in Kuala Lumpur an arrow on the ceiling provided direction to Mecca, Islam’s holiest site: . Muslims pray daily, facing in that direction while doing prostrations.

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Wearing a bikini is regarded as indecent exposure in some states, and censorship is pretty impressive – you’ll be hard pressed to find The Dark Knight [too anarchist], Beauty and the Beast [homosexual references] or Wonder Woman [leading actress Gal Gadot served in the Israeli army].

Jaywalking is also an offence, especially if and where there are pedestrian crossings and walkways provided. When you’re in Malaysia, there’s a subtle – and sometimes not-so-subtle – sense that you’re not in Kansas any more. You have to maintain a modicum of behaviour, not one that’s necessarily beyond the norm, but the walls seem to be moved in a little closer than in other countries.

In Singapore, at least when I was there, homosexuality and oral sex was illegal, as was littering and jaywalking. I remember asking my girlfriend, “But what if you drop a scrap of paper by mistake?”


What does this have to do with the Quoirin case? Nothing, and everything. Nothing, because if anything the Malaysians are quite strict in their attitudes. So the idea that they woudn’t treat a high-profile disappearance with the requisite urgency is complete anathema. Everything, because when you’re a foreigner in Malaysia, although you’re granted some concessions, you’re also expected to toe the line. You do as it’s done there, and things are done there according to their protocols and procedures, not yours.

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Most important, and this is a generalisation: there is perhaps a stronger sense of us vs them [from locals towards tourists and vice versa] in a Muslim country like Malaysia than in secular countries, for example the Netherlands and France. That’s not to cast aspersions on Malaysia alone, South Korea and Japan have similar attitudes to foreigners as “outsiders”, a lot of Asia is like that, even relatively laid back countries like Thailand and the Philippines.

How do cultural differences play out in other countries in the region? Thailand to the north feels a lot more liberal than Malaysia, perhaps because their culture is based on  “go with the flow” Buddhist beliefs. The Thais definitely give foreigners a longer leash to play with. Even so, in Thailand just as in most Asian countries, if you’re caught with recreational drugs you can be jailed, and in many cases executed.Fullscreen capture 20190828 220246Fullscreen capture 20190828 220217Fullscreen capture 20190828 220153

So when the Quoirins said they thought their daughter was abducted, one can expect, even from a cultural point of view, that the authorities would have no problem contradicting that claim. Not only was such a claim culturally inappropriate, it was – arguably – politically inexpedient. It was also unlikely.

But I want to focus on how this cultural appropriateness, when it came to the Nora, was treated very differently by the media in Britain versus Malaysia. I would argue that these differences can be explained in part due to cultural differences.

When we examine the media narrative, we see two narratives emerging almost from the get go, the Abduction Narrative in the western media, and a more conservative, more innocent explanation – the Lost Nora Narrative – in the local media.

One could also confidently predict that the pet narrative in the circus-like Madeleine McCann saga – the Paedophile Abduction Narrative – simply wouldn’t fly in Malaysia as it might in the west. This isn’t because paedophiles cease to exist in Malaysia, it’s just that the cultural conversation and the media in the East isn’t nearly as bottom-dwelling as in the West.

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Even the Portuguese were appalled to be accused by the British media of having paedophiles running amok through the Algarve, something that says a lot more about the British tabloids and cultural imagination in that country, than the state of things on the ground in Portugal.

To their credit, the Malaysians didn’t exclude the possibility of an abduction, even though – given the evidence, and the outcome – they had every reason to. It was a fanciful theory imposed on them by the outside world, and not least of all, the family of the lost child.

One wonders if the authorities had gone with their gut, ignored the foreign influence and focused on Lost Nora, regardless of how she got to wherever she was, whether she may have been found sooner, and perhaps even saved.

It may well be that by being nice, by not being assholes and investigating this case the way they damn well wanted to, the search for Nora was compromised.

In this sense, culture may be relevant after all. Malaysia may have felt culturally insecure given the unrelenting media spotlight focused on them during the disappearance. When the media carried advice courtesy of Britain’s “missing children experts”, perhaps they did feel they needed guidance. Who wouldn’t 3, 4, 7, 9 days into a frustrating, fruitless search?

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But it was also more fraught than it may have appeared on the surface. If they didn’t follow the instructions emanating from Britain, and the experts turned out to be right, Malaysia would have egg on its face.

On the other hand, if they jumped through the hoops they were told to jump through and still didn’t find Nora, then they would look foolish too. In the end the authorities took the middle road, following their own theory and splitting up their resources to chase the wild goose that was the Abduction Narrative. The enormous resources brought to bear in this search – over 350 on the last day – clearly show that the one thing Malaysia can’t be accused of is a lack of urgency or commitment in this case. mazlan_mansor_nora_anne_quoirin_search_20190811_2

Nora Quoirin and the Festival of the Sacrifice

When Meabh Quoirin addressed the crowds on the driveway of The Dusun Resort, she mentioned a festival.

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MEABH: We know you’ve given up your time especially at a special festival time to be with us here. It means the world to us.

Meabh was referring to the Festival of the Sacrifice [referred to in Spain as the Festival of the Lamb]. Wikipedia’s generic description is as follows:

Affluent Muslims who can afford it sacrifice their best halal domestic animals (usually a cow, but can also be a camel, goat, sheep, or ram depending on the region) as a symbol of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his only son. The sacrificed animals have to meet certain age and quality standards or else the animal is considered an unacceptable sacrifice. In Pakistan alone nearly ten million animals are slaughtered on Eid days costing over US$2.0 billion.

Wikipedia also provides an origin story for this ritual sacrifice, which is observed by numerous faiths, worldwide.

One of the main trials of Ibrahim’s life was to face the command of God to sacrifice his dearest possession, his son. The earliest Islamic traditions identify Isma’il (Ishmael) as the son who was sacrificed. When Ibraham attempted to cut his son’s throat on mount Arafat, he was astonished to see that his son was unharmed and instead, he found an animal which was slaughtered. Ibraham had passed the test by his willingness to carry out God’s command.

What was a little strange about Meabh’s comment was that the festival hadn’t started yet. The first day of the festival was only due to start on the evening of August 10th.

Nora Quoirin: Why the Abduction Theory makes no sense, and Why it’s time to talk about What Really Happened

Let us, for the sake of argument, imagine there is an abductor phantasm in this story.

Bear in mind, it’s an opportunistic crime, because the criminal hasn’t had time to get to know the family because they’ve only just arrived at the hotel.

The phantasm waits until everyone is asleep, and either opens the kitchen window, or finds it  already open. Oh look, right inside, on the table, is an expensive Apple MacBook. The phantasm elects to ignore it, and goes in search of his prey. On the way out, the MacBooth is right beside him. But again, he elects not to take it. Our phantasm isn’t an opportunist or a burglar.

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One might argue the MacBook wasn’t on the table when the phantasm arrived, but only left out on the desk after he left. Okay then, so you really believe an abductor came through the window, which is still open, and stole your child, and your plan is to sit right beside that window, with your back to it, and then leave your computer there…?

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For reference, in 25 0000 missing cases, more children got lost than the less than 1% that were abducted by strangers. We live in a strange world where, when something happens to a child, our first thought is a child abduction, when it should be our last thought.

More than four times as many abductions by strangers are committed by family members. So the idea that looking to parents when something happens to a child is anathema is patently ridiculous. We should look to the parents first, and look to exclude them, before turning our gaze towards stranger abductors.

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It is also nonsense to conflate the terms Pedophile Abductor. Abductions aren’t always carried out for reasons of sexual assault. According to the New York Times:

Sometimes, children are abducted for ransom or because they are caught up in another crime like burglary, or carjacking, when an abductor drives off with a child in the back seat. On other occasions, children get trapped in gang violence, sometimes as acts of revenge.

Last month in Philadelphia, Erica Pratt, 7, was abducted by men who demanded $150,000 in ransom. The police suspected that the abduction might have stemmed from a feud between drug dealers. Erica escaped after chewing through the duct tape that bound her hands and feet.