Oct 20, 2022

Missing Aussie grandmother’s remains were found and reburied

Missing Aussie grandmother's remains were found and reburied
Annapuranee Jenkins, left, with her husband Frank and a Malaysian hotel staff member on the day she went missing. [Source: Find Annapuranee Facebook page]

An inquest into the 2017 disappearance and death of Australian 65-year-old Annapuranee ‘Anna’ Jenkins in Malaysia has found builders uncovered her remains while working on a luxury development, but buried them again rather than make a report to the police.

The site’s project manager this week told the Malaysian Coroner’s Court and Ms Jenkins’ family that when construction workers found the remains, he told them to rebury them and say a prayer so that construction could continue.

Ms Jenkins was born in Penang, Malaysia, and had lived in Australia with her husband, Frank, for 40 years, most recently residing in Glenelg, South Australia.

The inquest is trying to understand how Ms Jenkins died and the circumstances of her death.

On December 13, 2017, Ms Jenkins was visiting Penang with her husband, which they did up to five times a year, and left him at their hotel to visit her dentist. 

From the dentist, she was planning to catch an Uber to visit her mother, who lived in an aged care home in Malaysia, but Ms Jenkins never arrived at the aged care home.

The Uber driver told authorities during the inquest that Ms Jenkins had asked to be dropped off before the address which the booking was made for, on a busy road where he claimed she had said a friend would pick her up.

Frank Jenkins also received a distress call from his wife around this time, where she said she was being held by two Ukrainians who would release her in exchange for her passport. 

He contacted the couple’s children, Greg Jenkins and Jen Bowen, and also made a missing persons report to the police.

Ms Jenkins’ children searched for their own evidence of what happened to their mother as they were frustrated with the Malaysian police’s response to her disappearance – which was not treated as a kidnapping.

In the days after the disappearance, Mr Jenkins travelled to Malaysia to look after his father Frank, who has dementia, and to assist with the police investigation.

He said he invited the police to go through his mother’s phone and luggage and offered a printout of all the calls in and out of the hotel room, but police declined all his offers.

“The best way to sum up the Malaysian police response was appalling. It was extremely lacklustre,” Mr Jenkins told the ABC

“I told him [the police officer] to go through Mum and Dad’s phone. They said: ‘There’s no need.’ I asked to take them up to the [hotel] room. They stated: ‘There’s no need’.

Mr Jenkins posted flyers of his mother in Malaysia and offered a reward for information on her disappearance, also attempting to work with police and making multiple trips back to Malaysia when he could.

In 2020, he received an anonymous tip-off through WhatsApp of a picture of some of his mother’s belongings at the construction site, which was about 800m from where the Uber driver had said he dropped Ms Jenkins off.

Mr Jenkins visited the site and found his mother’s shoe, then shortly after found some of her remains.

After police helped with the search for the rest of Ms Jenkins’ remains and DNA testing proved it was his mother, Mr Jenkins brought 18 of his mother’s bones home to rest in Australia.

The inquest into Ms Jenkins’ death began in March this year for three days and was delayed until last week as the Coroner said the police investigation had been “too poor” to continue at the time.

Since the investigation has begun, Mr Jenkins said there have been a number of unsubstantiated claims made about his mother and family by Malaysian police, including that she’d gotten lost on a walk, was trying to flee domestic violence, was involved in the drug trade, and was on the run from Australian authorities.

The South Australian Police have confirmed Ms Jenkins had no record of involvement in drug activity in Australia.

“Every angle of this case just makes me more and more frustrated and drives us more and more to try and right the wrongs of what should have occurred early on in the piece.”

The inquest will continue until at least the end of next week and the family hopes it will establish the cause of Ms Jenkins’ death so that there will be further investigation into what they believe was a robbery-murder.

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