Investigating officer at scene of teen model’s death says it should have been homicide

The inquest into the death of teen model Ivana Smit continues, and the 20th witness to be called to testify was the case’s initial investigating officer, Dang Wangi police sergeant Haliza Hamdan.

Free Malaysia Today reported that she told the court yesterday that police should have classified the case as homicide, and not ruled it sudden death (SDR). When pressed as to why such a haste conclusion has made, she admitted that she had been told to open an SDR by her superior.

Smit, a Dutch model who was only 19 at the time of her death, fell 14 stories from a condo balcony to her death, after a night spent with the couple who lived in the apartment, Alex Johnson and his wife Luna. Found naked hours after she is presumed to have fallen, investigators ruled the situation sudden death, and never determined a motive for the tragic event.

Prosecutors asked Haliza why she did not “use common sense,” considering the extraordinary circumstances that she was found in, and the sergeant responded that it would have been inappropriate for her to question the orders of ASP Faizal Abdullah, the senior officer on the case. ASP Faizal later took over the investigation.

“Yes, I was suspicious and I agree that opening an SDR report was not the right method, but that is why I called the Forensics Department to investigate,” said Haliza, according to FMT.

SDRs are usually opened when the deceased is believed to have died of natural causes, including cases of suicide, whereas an Investigation Paper (IP) would look into cause of death, including murder and foul play.

Shockingly, FMT reports that Haliza claimed that she “did not know” the difference between an SDR and an IP. Again, shifting responsibility to her superiors, she told the court that she was only following orders. While she had her suspicions, she does not know why an SDR was ordered, nor does she believe that she had sufficient training to have taken the case.

Inquest attendees also heard that when the sergeant and investigating officer arrived on the scene, both the 20th floor condo, and the sixth-floor landing where Ivana’s body was found, had been compromised by police who did not take the necessary precautions when entering the premises and handling evidence. At no point were any of the units sealed off with police tape. Evidence belonging to Ivana, including personal possession like her phone, and IDs were returned to her family without ever having been tested, and Haliza admitted that she was inexperienced and did not know proper protocol.

Having been cleared by the police investigation that ruled the incident sudden death, Johnson and his wife returned to the United States. Both were the last to see Ivana alive, and were subpoenaed to appear at the inquest, but have not returned.

Police re-opened the investigation at the behest of Ivana’s family, who claim that there were signs of foul play, and a cover-up. Court will be re-adjourned on October 16 for further testimonies.

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