PM reacts to discovery of woman’s body and four other St Philip deaths
That’s how Prime Minister Freundel Stuart has described the apparent death of 75-year-old Marcelle Smith, who went missing two weeks ago.
So far, police have been very tightlipped about their investigations into the matter, with Acting Assistant Commissioner of Police responsible for Crime Livingstone Eversley telling Barbados TODAY earlier this afternoon, a post mortem would have to confirm the identity of the body, which was discovered in a ravine at the weekend in an advanced state of decomposition.
However, addressing a political meeting of his Christ Church constituencies yesterday, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart was a lot more forthcoming on the status of the investigation, confirming that which lawmen seem very reluctant to do.
He paused to remember the family of former principal of the Lodge School Aurelius Smith, saying his wife Marcelle had died a “horrible death”.
“She would have been the sister-in-law of our own Sir Frederick Smith QC and Vernon Smith QC, that old Smith family,” the Prime Minister noted.
“We remember that family tonight as well and extend heartfelt condolences to them,” he told the gathering at the Deighton Griffith Secondary School.
Over the weekend lawmen revealed that one man had been taken into lawful custody in connection with the police probe into Smith’s disappearance. However, no charges have yet been laid even though lawmen returned to Halton Plantation yesterday in search of more clues.
With police remaining mum, Smith’s brother-in-law Sir Frederick has also given up hope that his 75-year-old relative is still alive.
All he wants now is for her death to be avenged and for justice to be done.
“I want the person [responsible] to be brought to justice, but be treated fairly,” he said.
“I hope he [the alleged perpetrator] is not treated unfairly because of our connection [to the authorities]. I hope the police act within the rights of the law and don’t interfere because of the connection with the Smith family,” the retired High Court Judge stressed.
The 91-year-old former Cabinet Minister in a previous Democratic Labour Party administration said he hoped somebody paid the penalty “for having kidnapped her and done that to her.
“We are traumatized by it. They are some wicked people in this world. I don’t know who the suspect is. It would be very interesting if and when they come forward with somebody, to know who it is. She is a 75-year-old woman . . . you must hate somebody, or you must be a sex maniac,” he suggested.
An upset Sir Frederick, who has been struggling to come to terms with the family’s loss, said he could not imagine why anyone would want to harm his sister-in-law, who has been missing since October 13.
Saturday night’s discovery of the body in a ravine near to Halton Plantation in St Philip, came exactly 24 hours after Smith’s family increased the reward offered for information leading to her safe return home from $5,000 to $10,000.
Though appealing for the public’s help, her daughter Tanya was insistent that her elderly mother had not wandered off from home but was the victim of a crime.
“We have evidence of the crime that unfolded and an accurate timeline of event. The electronic footprint for our mother . . . has enabled us to do this. We know multiple people are involved,” Smith said on Friday.
Barbadians were also jolted over the weekend by news of the fatal car crash that claimed the life of four other St Philip residents — 23-year-old Shameka Shepherd, 22 year-old Shanika Shepherd; 25-year-old Waveney Johnson and 18-year-old Carey Brathwaite.
Nakisha Shepherd, 23, remains warded at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital fighting for her life.
The Prime Minister has also extended “heartfelt condolences” to the families of the young women.
In recalling the sad events, Stuart said: “This has been a difficult day for Barbados. Yesterday [Saturday] morning when five young ladies from St Philip got up, the sunshine was golden and the skies were blue. This morning [Sunday] they did not see the sunshine nor did they see the sky, death having claimed them for its own.
“We can only guess at the sense of loss and trauma being felt by their families and we console with those families tonight. I am sure that St Philip North MP Michael Lashley and St Philip South MP Adriel Brathwaite will be doing their work to assist and to stabilize those families in these very difficult circumstances,” Stuart added.
Quoting St Paul’s sermon to the Corinthians, he said, “in the twinkling of an eye, we are all changed”.
The Prime Minister also reminded Barbadians that they do not have any direct control over these occurrences and therefore they just have to do the best they can when they have the opportunity to do it. (NC/EJ)