Police in Bali are claiming an Englishman found stabbed to death at his house may have committed suicide because of depression, whereas British tabloids have suggested the man’s girlfriend murdered him.
There are also conflicting Indonesian media reports over whether or not the girlfriend has been arrested.
One thing seems certain: the woman at the centre of this tragic case has a history of alleged business fraud, troubled relationships, and has long claimed to suffer depression and panic attacks. Of course, such issues alone cannot be used to accuse anyone of murder. Much more pertinent are the circumstances of the man’s death. The doctor who conducted the initial post-mortem examination believes it was likely a suicide.
The victim, Matt Harper (48) from Gloucester, was found dead early last Thursday (13 January 2022) at the house he shared with his girlfriend, Emmy Pakpahan (46), in Taman Giri Mumbul neighbourhood, Benoa Village, South Kuta.
Police said Harper’s body had sustained multiple stab wounds. “There were stab wounds to the neck, stab wounds in the chest or solar plexus, stab wounds in the lower abdomen, right and left,” South Kuta Police Chief I Ketut Sugiarta Yoga was quoted as saying by local news portal JPNN.com. He said there was a 7-centimeter open wound to the victim’s neck.
Harper had reportedly moved to Bali in February 2020 and worked for the Karma group of luxury hotels. In July 2021, he began a relationship with Emmy, who was born in Indonesia but has American citizenship from a previous marriage.
Emmy claimed that shortly before Harper’s death, he had woken up at 3:30am on Thursday, “hallucinating”, talking to himself and seemed “afraid”. She said his behaviour prompted her to exit the house and make a phone to call to Harper’s stepdaughter in the UK. Later, British tabloid The Sun reported that Harper himself had been speaking to his stepdaughter and ex-wife on a video call at the time of the alleged killing.
According to Emmy, while she was talking outside on her phone to Harper’s stepdaughter, Harper locked himself in the house and then fatally stabbed himself. To back up her claim, Emmy filmed him through a window, as he lay on the floor. In the video, which she shared with police, she says: “I don’t what to do. Oh god, oh god. Oh my god, I don’t know what happened. I don’t know what to do. Please, please, please, please.”
She said she managed to get into the house after asking a neighbour for help. A witness who entered the building said there was a bloody knife beside the victim, and that Emmy was pressing on Harper’s chest until an ambulance came. Harper was pronounced dead at the hospital.
An autopsy was conducted on January 17 at Sanglah Hospital in Denpasar. The hospital’s forensic consultant, Dr Ida Bagus Putu Alit, said Harper had died from blood loss caused by stab wounds. “What I can tell you is that there was indeed sharp force violence against the victim. There were two stab wounds to the neck, three stab wounds to the abdomen. One of these stab wounds to the abdomen caused death due to severing a large blood vessel,” he was quoted as saying by CNN Indonesia.
Alit said further lab tests were being conducted, but judging by the appearance of the stab wounds, they were probably self-inflicted. “It has to be definitively determined by the investigators. Because the investigators have a crime scene and so on, because they are looking for clues. However, judging from the pattern of the wounds, they are most likely self-inflicted. But for confirmation, that will come from the investigators.”
Police maintained there were not yet any indications of foul play. “It’s not a murder, we can’t say it’s a murder yet. It’s currently suspected that it’s a suicide,” said Bali Police Director of Criminal Investigation, Surawan.
He said Harper might have been suffering from depression because of family problems or because he had recently been involved in an unspecified traffic accident. “It’s possible his depression is due to family problems,” he was quoted as saying by JPNN.com.
Suicide by self-stabbing, especially to the abdominal region and neck, is rare, but is not unknown.
Harper’s friends expressed doubt over the police’s suicide theory, saying he had been in good spirits the day before his death, but they had feared for his safety in recent weeks because of his troubled relationship.
Numerous Indonesian media reports said Emmy had been questioned by police and then released, although Radartegal.com news website, either prematurely or erroneously, reported she had been arrested.
Recent posts on some Bali-themed Facebook groups cast aspersions against Emmy, accusing her of being a serial scammer with victims from California and Las Vegas to Indonesia.
Posts on Facebook and other social media platforms indicate that Emmy has long offered goods and services online. There are many complaints from her customers about hidden fees, low-quality products and merchandise never arriving. When pushed to resolve some of these problems, she would claim to be seriously ill and hospitalized because of a panic attack. She also blocked her dissatisfied customers on Facebook.
In 2021, she started a jewellery business called EMX Asia, where Matt Harper was listed as president. In her ecommerce dealings, she has also used the names Emmy Buckland, Emmy Taylor, and Emmy Blackwell. She reportedly lost custody of her son in the US after agreeing to a financial settlement with a former husband.
Harper had apparently become unhappy with his relationship with Emmy and wanted to end it, whereas one of her Instagram posts (now unavailable) suggests she wanted to marry him. One of Harper’s former girlfriends told The Sun: “I was with him before he got with Emmy. He was a perfect gentleman, a caring and lovely man. He was the love of my life. I can’t believe he’s gone. He texted me just a few days before he died, saying he hated Emmy because she ruined his life – and he was sorry for leaving me. He was the best father to his two girls and stepdaughter and was loved by many friends in the UK and Bali. May he rest in peace.”
Emmy had on January 7 reported Harper to Kuta Police for alleged abuse, but then withdrew her complaint on January 10.
After Harper’s death, she alleged he was an alcoholic and had often beaten her. “He is very alcoholic, drinking and drunk almost every day,” she told JPNN.com.
She claimed Harper’s life became troubled because of economic stress after a fire at the Karma Hotel in Pecatu, where he had worked.
Local media reports said the police conclusion of suicide was not based only a witness statement but also from CCTV footage.
While Emmy’s Facebook and Instagram accounts could no longer be accessed today, she is still present across various social media platforms. There are even two YouTube videos of her getting tattoos, one of which reads ‘Love Never Fails’.
The precise circumstances surrounding Harper’s death are yet to be revealed, but the case has gained sufficient international attention that should prompt a serious investigation.
The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office said it was coordinating with Indonesian police. “We are in touch with Indonesian police regarding the death of a British man in Bali, and are supporting the family at this difficult time.”