Excerpt from NOT ALL WHO WANDER ARE LOST

Author’s Note: One of the idiosyncrasies of the Quoirin case was the unprecedented length of the autopsy. It dragged on and on for hours, and then into a second day. When the results finally came out confusion persisted. After the marathon autopsy it still seemed hard to tell exactly how the 15-year-old had died. Except it wasn’t.

Marathon Autopsy

At 14:30, the Malaysian police cordoned off the access road to The Dusun Resort with yellow police tape. Initial access to the scene was slow. Getting her body out of the area wasn’t going to be quick, or easy. A local offered an officer a ride closer to where Nora lay on the back of his scooter.

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But the message behind the fluttering, bright yellow tape was clear. The authorities had recovered a dead child, bruised and naked from a streambed, and the area was now a crime scene. But was it?

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As mentioned earlier, the Quoirin family arrived in the area in a black sedan at 16:07. It’s not clear why they were summoned to the scene, or whether they were taken to where Nora lay in situ, or whether this delayed the transport of Nora’s body to a nearby hospital.

At 18:26 local time [11:26 London-time] and about an hour before sunset, a red, blue and white helicopter buzzed over the scene. Once in position over a densely forested gyhll [or ravine] the chopper lowered a basket down to cops and rescuers workers gathered below.

BBC news crews recorded the chopper winching up a basket with Nora’s body, supported by a police officer. As the dead child and officer spun upward, a warm, impenetrable forest hovered thickly behind it. Finally, the chopper turned and clattered off towards Tuanku Ja’afar Hospital, the biggest hospital in Negeri Sembilan.

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The government hospital is just 25 minutes’ drive by car, southwest of The Dusun Resort. By chopper no more than half that time. At 19:07 the chopper drifted down, out of the sunless sky, towards a single traffic controller wearing an orange vest and military fatigues motioning within both arms on the ground. The chopper landed softly on a wide swath of green lawn adjacent to the hospital. Once the rotors had wound down around a dozen personnel in blue fatigues, orange berets and wearing surgical masks [and gloves] stormed the chopper.

An ambulance approached swiftly and parked near the edge of the rotors. A stretcher was hauled out and wheeled to the open doors of the chopper. A large, green canvas bag was pulled out of it. One of the personnel near the front of the stretcher pulled out a phone and snapped a photo. Nora’s body was transferred to the stretcher, while the same individual with the phone snapped more photos, and then lifted into the ambulance.

The rear hatch was closed, and the ambulance quickly headed to the Jabatan Perubatan forensic section of the hospital, a nondescript, somewhat rundown building.

Meanwhile, the Quoirin family who had rushed to the scene, were rushing back to the hospital, trying to catch-up to their daughter’s body. Other family members were alerted. It’s not clear whether the media were instructed not to photograph Nora’s parents and siblings, or whether…

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