The tragic death of a teenage model over the weekend occupied the newsfeeds of many KL-ites, with sensationalized headlines begging for a click.
Three days on, exactly what contributed to the untimely end of 19-year-old Ivana Esther Robert Smit remains unclear.
The Dutch and Belgian national was found naked, on the sixth-floor balcony of an upscale Jalan Dang Wangi condo. A couple inhabiting a unit on the 20th floor had been hosting the teenager at their home, after a purported night of drinking earlier that night at a Bangsar bar.
The two have claimed that although all three returned to the unit that night, the couple then decided to go to sleep. It was while the couple slept that the model fell 14 stories to her death.
At present, there are no clear answers regarding why the young girl was found naked, or how she managed to stumble to the balcony, nor how she accomplished the feat of climbing over its railing.
Dutch media have added alarming details to the young girl’s tragic narrative. News outlet AD have reported that the buildling’s CCTV footage indicated that the couple arrived back at their condo alone with Ivana at 5:00am Thursday morning.
At 7:25am, Ivana messages her boyfriend, telling him she is with an American couple, and sends him a selfie, with clothes on. The Dutch paper approximates that seven and a half hours later, she was discovered dead, 14 floors below.
Ivana’s bereaved and angry father, Marcel Smit, arrived in Kuala Lumpur to identify the body. AD writes that he is incredulous about the circumstances surrounding Ivana’s death.
He points out that while Ivana was tall, at 181cm, the balcony at the condo had a 120cm high barricade. Even if she were to lean or bend over, an accidental fall seemed unlikely.
He added that when he saw her body, bruises in the shape of fingers were visible around her neck.
Interpol is now investigating.
Local police have told the media that initial investigations show no criminal intent; however, they have asked anyone who may have additional information to come forward.
Ivana’s modeling career began at the tender age of 15, after she placed third in Malaysia’s Supermodel Search 2014. Holding both Dutch and Belgian passports, she was a popular fixture in the city’s vibrant youth scene, and her Instagram account indicated that she intended to go to Paris in the near future to further pursue her career.
Carl Graham, founder of Rollmodels Academy, and a veteran of the industry, posted a lengthy Facebook status that raised many of the questions on the public’s mind, and has been liked more than two hundred times.
One of the biggest issues raised by Graham was the general difficulties endured by those in the modeling industry, whether it be depression and isolation felt working far from home, or the fact that very young girls are placed in very adult situations, with “dodgy people, left, right and center.”
He added that while the concept of an after-party back at home is not that uncommon after the bar shuts, what we all might want to consider is how safe it is for such young girls to go “back home” to a situation that is unfamiliar to them.
While none of us can know exactly what happened, we’ve all stood on a balcony, and we all know that it would take effort to get oneself over the edge.
At the very least, what we have is a troubling situation: A teenager was left alone, naked, and in a state so beyond her own wherewithal that she managed to fall from a relatively secure balcony. We hope that considering all of the troubling elements in the case, that police give it a thorough investigation.
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