Cops suspect corpses in Brasso Seco forest are missing mum, baby
PORT OF SPAIN –– Thirteen days after a family of four, including a one-year-old girl, went missing in Brasso Seco, the bodies of a woman and a baby were discovered in a bag off a precipice yesterday.
The bodies were found less than four miles from the family’s home.
Police reports stated that officers of the North Eastern Division, aided by personnel from the Canine Unit, Blanchisseuse Police Station, Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force, Anti-Kidnapping Unit, Crime Scene Recovery Unit and Homicide Bureau of Investigation, all under the supervision of the National Operations Centre, resumed their search for Irma Rampersad, 48, her daughters Felicia “Chinky” Gonzales, 17, a pupil of Malabar Secondary School, Jenelle “Cookie” Gonzales, 19, and one-year-old Shania Amoroso, who have all been missing since October 26.
Shortly after midday yesterday, while in a forested area off the Paria Main Road approximately four miles from the home of the missing relatives, one of the search parties detected a stench.
The search party followed the scent which led them to a precipice a short distance from the main road.
When the officers looked down, they observed what looked like a dark blanket, with what appeared to be a human body partly exposed. The search party made a closer examination and found that the body appeared to be that of a woman.
They notified their superiors and the immediate vicinity of the find was contained.
Police set up roadblocks along the main road at two points, questioning drivers and occupants of vehicles coming into and exiting the Brasso Seco community.
When the Sunday Express arrived, several officers were observed at the bottom of the precipice exchanging information with one another whilst awaiting the arrival of Crime Scene Unit officers.
Sources said the officers wanted to ensure that the scene was preserved.
The Sunday Express attempted to get closer to the scene, however, officers were adamant about not going in farther.
At this time, officers also searched Express reporter Gyasi Gonzales and TV6 camerawoman Keri Patrick, as well as the vehicle they arrived in, out of “an abundance of caution”.
Crime Scene investigators arrived and after examining the bag and the body it was discovered that the body of a baby was also in the bag. Both bodies, police said, were partially decomposed.
Officers immediately expanded their search and a short distance away they discovered a burnt wooden house in the forest. Based on their observations, sources said, police believe the house may have been set on fire a few days after the family went missing.
The officers remained on the scene well into the afternoon, and up to last night were still searching the forested area.
Police sources emphasized yesterday that the discovery of the decomposing bodies were not direct evidence that any of the missing four relatives had been found.
They said relatives of Irma Rampersad and her family would have to view the two bodies within the next 48 hours in an attempt to identify the bodies, failing which, DNA samples may have to be secured and tested to confirm their identities.
Speaking to the Sunday Express yesterday, one of Rampersad’s daughters confirmed they had received “certain information” which had left them concerned.
“Yes, well, we spoke to investigators and from what they told me, they said that they found the body of a child and a woman off a precipice. We have to go identify them . . . . But from what they said, they tell me for sure that it’s the baby, but they don’t know which one the woman is. They said the body was too badly decomposed, but they did tell me that the woman’s body had a ring by her navel.
“So since we were told that, . . . I’m getting the family together, so we could tell them together instead of them finding out via television or phone calls from villagers or what not. ’Cause all of Mummy’s siblings right now don’t know what happened. I don’t even know how to break the news to them. Personally, I had prepared myself from the beginning for this possibility, but . . . I just don’t know. And then they said that they have to search near the body again tomorrow to see if the other two there . . . I just don’t know,” explained Rampersad’s daughter who asked not to be identified.
Brasso Seco residents expressed shock, horror, surprise, anger and profound grief at the heinous crimes perpetrated against a family in their community yesterday. Several residents said they did not know “there was a monster in their midst”. Consensus among them was what manner of man would slaughter an innocent baby in such a horrible manner. They were hurt that their picturesque, tranquil community had grabbed national headlines in a negative light. Several residents, including Carl Fitzjames, said they were “traumatized” and felt residents should receive professional counselling.
Among those who registered their angst at the nefarious crimes was village elder Mary Rose, 75. Sitting in her porch, Rose said: “The girls used to come home by me with the baby. I kissed and played with the baby. It was a beautiful baby. The girls sang in the church choir. I knew them very well. It is so sad. This is a tragedy for the community. I hope they get the rest of them. It’s been 16 days since they went missing.”
Leaving his hammock, bird bander (assists students with research projects) Fitzjames said: “The whole community is traumatized. This is going all over the world. People are going crazy. People are crying, sobbing and gossiping. We don’t know what is going on. Rumours are circulating like wildfire. All my life, I have live in Brasso Seco. Nothing horrible like this has ever happened.”
Fitzjames added: “I am hurting for the baby. It is an innocent. We are deeply disturbed at this tragic incident. We feel there should be some counselling.”
A Brasso Seco gentleman who pleaded to remain anonymous said: “Six months ago the [alleged] killer was living among them. He was staying by people here. Nobody knew he was so dangerous. Nobody knew there was a monster in our midst. We understand he shot the mother in her head to wrestle the baby from her.”
Along the way to Brasso Seco, residents living along the Blanchisseuse and Paria Main Road said they, too, were deeply saddened at the family’s tragedy –– especially the loss of the baby. Several residents said they were surprised to learn about the family’s crisis in a secluded community via news reports or from fellow villagers. A few days earlier, elderly couple Sobha and Dhanrajee Ramoutar, 67, said they were puzzled at the presence of a convoy of police vehicles, sirens howling and helicopters hovering.
Sobha Ramoutar said: “We did not know what was going on. It is a small area so people started talking about how they had kidnapped some people. It should not have happened. A little baby. How could someone beat up a baby?”
Ramoutar added: “Bandits don’t make an appointment. They turn up anytime. I does get up during the night and look out. This is a quiet place. These bad things don’t take place up here.”
Ramoutar felt the authorities should desist from having conversations about hanging murderers and implement it.
He said: “People will think twice about killing. They might beat up someone but leave them alone. Then they are holding people and releasing them.”
Outside a bar where men from Temple Village and Vaudeville were quaffing liquor, a chorus of voices raised a lament at the infanticide.
Tears welled up in his eyes, as a gentleman said: “Maybe I could understand big people thing. But not a baby. Not an infant. That man is a monster in human form.”