A devoted son’s desperate search for his missing mother has ended with the harrowing discovery of her skeletal remains in rubble at a Malaysian building site.
It’s believed that Anna Jenkins, 65, was snatched off the streets while on a trip to Penang in 2017.
But her Adelaide family claims that, when they raised the alarm, Royal Malaysia Police did little to help, sparking her son Greg’s own epic bid to find her.
He spent more than $300,000 on 34 trips to Malaysia to crawl through rat-infested sewers and tsunami tunnels on an 80,000km trek criss-crossing the country looking for any trace of his mother.
Devoted son Greg Jenkins found the skeletal remains of his missing Australian mother dumped at a Malaysian building site as he rummaged through the construction rubble
He found part of his mother’s vertebrae lying among the rubble and boulders. There were also many of her possessions including a cross and her favourite Vicks cold lozenges
Finally, three years after she vanished, a tip-off led him to the spot where a construction worker had found some of her possessions, including a dentist appointment card, and her coccyx bone.
Mr Jenkins, 43, alerted local police as he waited an agonising five weeks for permission to travel to Malaysia during Covid lockdown.
But it took another 10 days before he could persuade the police to go to the site and check the worker’s claims.
When Mr Jenkins finally managed to get to Penang, he was assured police had done everything they could to search the area but nothing else had been found.
He insisted on travelling to the spot at Kensington Gardens, a newly-built wealthy suburb 10 minutes from Penang’s Georgetown CBD, which backs onto jungle.
And within moments of arriving he spotted his mother’s shoe lying loose on the surface, despite the police insisting the area had been thoroughly checked.
When he returned to the scene a few days later, he finally made his crucial breakthrough after years of searching.
‘I asked the building site security guard to just take a video of me lifting the rocks and searching,’ Mr Jenkins told Daily Mail Australia.
‘It was weird. At that moment, the whole place just filled up with these dark blue and black butterflies. It was just flooded with these butterflies.
‘I sat down but didn’t think much of it apart from it being weird – and then I just looked down and spotted mum’s vertebrae.’
A thorough search eventually revealed dozens of other bones and bone fragments lying just beneath the soil surface.
‘The gravity of it didn’t really hit me for months,’ he admitted.
‘It was very much a mix of emotions… I’m very good at compartmentalising everything.
‘But I know it destroyed [his sister] Jen and dad [Frank] as well.’
Mr Jenkins later found out the remains were originally discovered six months earlier by workers at the $107million housing development.
But rather than go to police, the worker who tipped him off told Mr Jenkins they were ordered to move the bones off the main site and dump them in the nearby rubble where they were eventually rediscovered.
‘I believe my mother was snatched off the street, robbed and murdered, and then her body dumped in what was then jungle,’ Mr Jenkins said.
‘The remains of a man and a child had also previously been found there. I think it was just a dumping ground for killers.
‘But the new housing development was aimed at wealthy Chinese buyers – and traditionally they can’t buy a home anywhere that’s had human remains on it.
‘This development cost over $100million to build but the selling price of the luxury villas meant it was worth more than a billion – so everyone just hushed it all up.
‘They didn’t want word leaking out that dead bodies had been found there as it’s taboo and could have killed off the market for Chinese buyers.
‘So they moved my mother’s bones off to the side to an area which was going to be a water feature in parkland, and wouldn’t be residential land.’
Greg Jenkins and his sister Jen Bowen (pictured) searched relentlessly for their mother
Malaysia held a coronial inquest into the death last week, but it was branded a farce by Mr Jenkins after it visited the wrong location until he stepped in to guide them.
He said crucial evidence – including soil samples which showed his mother was probably murdered at another location and then dumped – was never followed up.
And he believes a missing fragment of his mother’s skull was deliberately destroyed to hamper any murder investigation.
The Malaysian coroner is set to hand down his findings next month but Greg now wants a fresh inquest in Australia to probe the death in detail.
He has been backed by local SA-Best MP Frank Pangallo who has written to the South Australian attorney-general requesting the state government intervenes.
‘The family deserves justice,’ Mr Pangallo said.
‘They deserve closure. They deserve to be treated respectfully.
‘I do appreciate this presents some formidable international obstacles. However it could be the last option for the Jenkins family in achieving the closure they are so desperately seeking.’
Malaysian-born Anna Jenkins married husband RAAF serviceman Frank Jenkins and moved to Australia in 1970, raising son Greg and daughter Jen in Adelaide, South Australia
Foreign minister Penny Wong met the family last year to discuss the case and staff from Australia’s department of foreign affairs attended the inquest.
‘The Australian government has made further representations to the Malaysian Government, following the end of hearings,’ department spokesman said.
‘The government will continue to advocate for a just and speedy resolution to the coronial inquest, in line with the wishes of the Jenkins family.
‘The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade continues to provide consular support to Mrs Jenkins’ family, who have suffered an immense burden since her disappearance.’