40 Years Ago Today: The Tragic Murder of A M’sian Ex-Beauty Queen That Was Never Solved
Malaysia has had its fair share of gruesome murders, for instance, the notorious Mona Fandey’s murders that shocked the nation till today. But, amongst the many murders that happened in Malaysia, there’s one case that still baffles the nation because it remains unresolved.
Back then, there’s not one Malaysian who hasn’t heard the tale of Jean Perera Sinnappa, a beauty queen who was viciously stabbed to death. Even after 40 years, her case has still failed to find closure!
Dubbed as one of the most sensational murder cases in Malaysia, here are five facts you should know about Jean Perera Sinnappa’s murder.
1. Jean Perera Sinnappa was found dead on 6 April 1979
On that dark night, two MAS (Malaysian Airlines) engineers who were around the area lodged a report to the police as they claimed to have found a dead woman in a car at a “secluded underpass off the Federal Highway”, which is approximately 5km away from the Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport (Now: Skypark Terminal).
An hour later, the police arrived and found Jean still strapped on to her seat belt in a white Fiat 125 but she was dead. She was apparently stabbed 10 times in the chest.
They also found an unconscious man named Karthigesu Sivapakiam on the ground and he was with Jean. Former Senior Investigation Officer, Datuk Ramli Yusuff who was in charge of the case back then, was quoted as saying,
“When I arrived at the scene, I was surprised to find a man lying face down but still breathing. He kept murmuring something which I could not understand. I decided to send him to University Hospital (now Universiti Malaya Medical Centre) for treatment.”
Karthigesu reportedly said that he was hit from behind and was knocked out unconscious when he stepped out of the car to relieve himself. Without wasting much time, Karthigesu was then rushed to the hospital and the former beauty queen’s body was sent for an autopsy.
2. Police classified Jean’s case as murder & arrested Karthigesu
After the autopsy, it was discovered that Jean sustained two injuries on her chest and stomach as well as four injuries on her hand. Thus, the police classified the case as murder and started investigations.
The case was so complicated that they actually took four months to close the investigation papers. And, as a result of the probe, Karthigesu was charged with the murder of Jean on 9 May 1979 after he was arrested on 26 April 1979.
3. Kartigesu was Jean’s brother-in-law & lover
Confusing? Well, not really.
Karthigesu is Jean’s brother-in-law because she was once married to his brother, Sinnappa Sivapakiam but sadly, the man passed away in a fatal accident near Jalan 222, Petaling Jaya on New Year’s Eve in 1978, several months before Jean died.
FYI, Jean had three children together with Sinnappa and she was working as a school teacher after quitting the beauty pageant. People who knew her said that she was a very dedicated teacher.
After the passing of Sinnappa, Jean lived with her mother-in-law and Karthigesu, along with her three children – Damendra, Rohini and Malini. Both of them (Jean and Karthigesu) were believed to have fallen in love after that and were planning to get married.
Nevertheless, Rev Edward Soosai from Our Lady of Lourdes, Klang said during the trial that the couple had not registered to get married.
4. Karthigesu was named a suspect because of circumstantial evidence & extrajudicial confession
Ramli, who was heading the investigations said that Karthigesu was suspected because there were no obvious injuries on him even though he said he was hit from behind. On top of that, Karthigesu told the authorities that he got down from the car to go relieve himself but the police found no trace or smell of urine at the location.
Not only that, Karthigesu led the police to his house in Klang and they found a bag of love letters. Some of the letters were from Jean’s “secret lover” – Dr Narada Warnasurya from Sri Lanka – and the others were written to Dr Narada by Jean.
Apparently, Jean met Dr Narada at a function in YMCA, Brickfields in 1978, during one of his visits to our country. The letters suggested that Jean had cheated on her then-husband (Sinnappa) while he was still alive.
Did you know that Narada was called to testify in court? Yep, the police managed to track him down with the help of Sri Lanka’s government and police but Narada refused to do so.
Therefore, the authorities believed that Karthigesu may have been jealous of Narada and Jean’s relationship after finding one of the letters. If you didn’t know, in one of the letters, Narada wrote about getting married to Jean.
Authorities suggested that Karthigesu may have been green with envy and took it out on Jean. These allegations were made even more believable after Bandhulanda Jayathilake confessed that Karthigesu told him “that b*tch did not deserve to live”.
Hence, using evidence of blood on Jean’s blouse and Jayathilake’s confession, Karthigesu became the first suspect in Malaysia who was convicted by “circumstantial evidence and extrajudicial confession”.
5. Karthigesu was acquitted of all charges
However, after two years of being in jail and waiting for his death, Kartigesu suddenly had a glimmer of hope when Jayathilake came forward to retract his original statement against Kartigesu. Jayathilake said that he actually never heard Kartigesu shouting “that b*tch didn’t deserve to live” as he had initially confessed.
He told the judge that he was forced to lie in order to ensure that Kartigesu was found guilty. The judge immediately took Jayathilake’s shocking confession into consideration and freed Kartigesu from all charges.
On 20 May 1981, Kartigesu walked away from jail a free man after spending two years, one month and four days in prison. After his acquittal, Karthigesu was said to be happily married and living in Klang, Selangor. That said, there are no current reports of his whereabouts now. As for Jayathilake, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison for perjury but the man died in prison two years later.
And, there you have it, the unsolved murder case of Jean Perera Sinnappa! After 40 years, this case still remains unsolved due to the lack of concrete evidence but it’s still recalled as one of the most sensational murder cases to have ever occurred in Malaysia. There’s even a documentary on it, you can watch it here.
What do you think of Jean Perera’s case? Let us know in the comments below!
Also read: 6 of the Most Mysterious, Unsolved Cases that Took Place on Malaysian Soil
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