Crimes That Shook the Nation: Beauty Queen Murder

MURDER the worst, most lurid stories of sex, betrayal and mystery.

Malaysians in their golden years will to this day remember the assassination of 31-year-old beauty queen Jean Perera Sinnappa on April 6, 1979 and the trial that followed.

Over the past four decades, both local and foreign news sources had published dozens of articles about the case.

Documentaries were even made that chronologically reappraised the murder, which is still unsolved to this day.

The charming young woman, who had won titles in several state and national beauty pageants, was widowed just months earlier when she lost her chemist husband S. Sinnappa in a traffic accident in Petaling Jaya on New Year’s Eve.

Jean, who is from Negri Sembilan and was a school teacher, was out with her husband to celebrate and ring in the new year when tragedy struck. She escaped with minor injuries.

After the death of her husband, she moved in with her mother-in-law with her three young children.

Also living in the same house in Klang was her late husband’s brother, S. Karthigesu, a psychology lecturer who was eventually charged with her murder.

It is claimed that Jean and her brother-in-law, who live under the same roof, didn’t take long to court.

It seemed like the perfect arrangement, but four months later, life took a horrific turn.

Two aircraft engineers driving past Subang Airport on the national highway at night stopped when they saw Karthigesu lying next to a car on a roadside.

In the car, Jean’s bloody body lay on the passenger seat.

She had multiple stab wounds to her chest and was dead at the scene.

When a police investigation began, investigators didn’t buy Karthigesu’s statement that he stopped to calm down but was beaten unconscious and had no idea how or who killed Jean.

When no injuries were found on Karthigesu, then 37, he was arrested and about a month later charged by the Kuala Lumpur High Court with circumstantial evidence in the murder of Jeans.

The murder trial lasted 38 days and 58 witnesses were summoned.

Details of disloyalty from an affair Jean allegedly had with a Sri Lankan doctor have been uncovered.

A large pile of love letters exchanged by the duo were put on display.

Jealousy due to a love triangle was speculated as the motive for the murder.

The damning testimony, however, came from a close friend of Karthigesu’s family, Bandhulanda Jayathilake, who testified that he had heard Karthigesu say Jean deserved death.

The lecturer was eventually sentenced to death at the end of the trial.

Four days after the verdict, Jayathilake confessed that he lied under oath and that his testimony was false. Jayathilake was charged with perjury and sentenced to 10 years in prison, but died in prison two years later.

On May 20, 1981, after two years behind bars, Karthigesu was rehabilitated and emerged from prison a free man. Crimes That Shook the Nation: Beauty Queen Murder

Tom Vazquez

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