Police in the resort island of Bali have determined there was no element of homicide in the death of British national Matt Harper (47), who was fatally stabbed at a house where he was staying with his Indonesian-American girlfriend.
Denpasar Police chief Jansen Avitus Panjaitan on Wednesday said various pieces of evidence and an autopsy indicated Harper had taken his own life on the morning of January 14.
Harper had been living with his girlfriend Emmy Pakpahan (42) at a house in the Samatha Mumbul residential complex in South Kuta. Emmy was born in Indonesia but has American citizenship from a former marriage.
According to police, Emmy said Harper had woken her up at night and wanted them to go outside, so they both exited the house, then returned. “At that time the victim was said to be talking to himself and looked panicked,” said Panjaitan.
Police said closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage of the house showed Harper pacing on the terrace from 1.47 am until 6.00 am. The footage then indicated Harper had moved to the garage area, while Emmy was outside and talking on her phone. Emmy said she had left the house at 6.01 am to telephone Harper’s stepdaughter from his first marriage.
When Emmy tried to re-enter the house at 6.10 am, the door was locked from the inside. After looking through a window and noticing Harper on the floor, she used her smartphone to film him. She then apparently alerted at least one neighbour, who knocked on the door at about 6.30am. The noise awoke the house’s owner, Rizka Nirmalasari alias Ica, who had been sleeping on the second floor and is reportedly a relative of Emmy.
Upon checking her phone, Ica noticed some missed calls from Emmy. She telephoned Emmy, who was outside the house, and asked her to open the door. “So Emmy and the victim’s friend were outside. Then Emmy said the victim was inside harming himself,” Panjaitan was quoted as saying by detikcom.
After Ica opened the door, Emmy entered and found Harper in a prostrate position on the living room floor, near the kitchen, on his back, with multiple stab wounds and a knife next to him. He was taken to Universitas Udayana Hospital in Jimbaran, where he was pronounced dead on arrival. Ica contacted police.
Denpasar Police later questioned seven witnesses, including Emmy, Ica, a neighbour, and the doctor who conducted the autopsy at Sanglah Hospital.
Police believe Harper stabbed himself because he was depressed about losing his job as a chef and was under the influence of drugs. “So, the initial assumption is that the victim committed his actions because of depression,” said Panjaitan.
He said bruising to the man’s body had been sustained in a traffic accident on January 10, when Harper crashed a car into a shop in Suwung Kauh area, Denpasar. He said the Englishman had been taken to Bali Mandara Hospital after the accident but left before he could receive any treatment. A few days before the accident, Emmy had reported Harper to Kuta Police for alleged abuse.
Doctors on Monday said an autopsy showed that Harper had died of his stab wounds, which were likely self-inflicted. Police concurred. “So we conclude from the evidence, which is an autopsy result, the results of a forensic laboratory examination, then CCTV analysis and testimony from witnesses. We can conclude that the result of this victim’s death was suicide,” Panjaitan was quoted as saying by Tribunnews.com.
Police said the autopsy found 10 stab wounds, likely made by a kitchen knife with a blade measuring 3cm by 15cm. Panjaitan said the most severe wounds were to the chest and lower left abdomen. “Judging from the pattern and descriptions of the wounds, everything was reached by the victim’s hand,” he was quoted as saying by Berita Bali Online. He said there were less-deep wounds to the left and right sides of the neck, indicating the victim had attempted suicide with some hesitation.
Panjaitan also said the victim’s clothes did not show any tearing caused by a blade. “It is confirmed that the injuries were carried out by the victim himself. The stab wound in the lower right abdomen cut the right main intestinal artery which resulted in bleeding… The cause of death of the victim was due to a stab wound, in the lower right abdomen that hit a large blood vessel or artery, which was carried out by the victim himself,” he was quoted as saying by TRIBUNnews.com
JPNN.com reported that Harper had regularly consumed anti-depressants since losing his job as a chef because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Police said he had been a chef at Karma restaurant in South Kuta for 1 year and 11 months.