GEORGE TOWN: The family of an Australian woman who went missing in Penang three years ago has questioned the lack of updates on the case despite the discovery of skeletal remains and personal belongings such as a handbag and hotel keycard at a construction site earlier this year.
Steven Jenkins, whose mother Annapuranee disappeared about a week before Christmas 2017, said someone had stumbled upon the skeletal remains along with the items including a rosary and an inhaler at a site in Scotland Road.
He said the person had taken photos of the items from which family members identified a blouse and some Australian currency that they believed belonged to Anna.
On June 16, he said, the Australian High Commission had reached out to the police who denied the discovery. Two days later, though, he said police told Australian diplomats that the bones probably belonged to someone else.
“To date, nothing has been done about confirming if this is our mother or not,” he told FMT.
“The construction site hasn’t been treated as a crime scene. Nobody is getting back to us through official channels, through the Australian High Commission, with the progress of my mum’s investigation.”
Jenkins said the officer assigned to the case had gone on two weeks’ leave, adding that 11 investigating officials had gone through it since 2017.
When the last officer spoke with the family members, he said, he had asked for details such as their mother’s full name and her identity card number which had been given to the police a long time ago.
Malaysian-born Annapuranee, fondly known as Anna, had been in Penang on a short holiday with her husband, Frank.
She left her hotel in a taxi on Dec 13, 2017 and went for a dental checkup at a clinic on Burma Road. After her appointment, the receptionist helped her hail an Uber ride to her mother’s care home at Batu Lanchang Lane.
Anna, 65, stopped the Uber short of the care home at Ramakrishna Ashram on Scotland Road. She has been missing ever since.
Police speculated that she could have fled because she was unable to pay her dentist’s bill, or because she was still under the effect of the anaesthetic. They also theorised that she could have fled abuse from her family, which has refuted all three possibilities.
When contacted, northeast district police chief Soffian Santong denied a lack of action on the case.
He confirmed that the investigating officer had gone on leave but said others were keeping tabs on the issue, and that his officers were in constant contact with Australian diplomats.
He also said they had tried to reach out to Anna’s local relatives through the national registration database but failed to find any matches.
On the discovery of skeletal remains, he said a forensics team had found a hip bone along with items including a keycard for Hotel Jen at a construction site next to the Penang Turf Club on Scotland Road in late June.
The items were sent to the Penang Hospital and later to the chemistry department for analysis. He said the delay was due to a lack of DNA samples from relatives in order to run a comparison.
Given the current travel restrictions due to Covid-19, he said Jenkins’ family could conduct a DNA analysis in Australia and sent the report to Penang.
“Otherwise, they can always reach out to us.”
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