JAMAICA – Fatal obsession
Man shoots ex-girlfriend in front of toddler
KINGSTON –– By the time Sidney Brown shot and killed his ex-lover Verona Clarke in front their two-year-old child at a day-care in Linstead, St Catherine, ingredients for the murder-suicide had already been in place, given how flawed a character Brown was.
By then, the 36-year-old Brown had been a rejected lover, having been kicked to the kerb close to two weeks prior by the woman over whom he obsessed. He had been seething, stewing in his anger over the break-up and he spoke angrily about Clarke in public in the days leading up to the shooting.
He had been a jealous and possessive man; so much so that during their relationship he forbade Clarke, 33, from talking to other men and even policed her use of social media. When the relationship ended, she was moving on, but he had not. This was his second serious relationship to have failed, the first being his marriage.
The picture of Brown as a flawed personality was pieced together from interviews conducted Friday by the Jamaica Observer with family members and friends of Clarke’s and her co-workers at Classic Collection in Linstead.
No relatives or friends of Brown’s could be reached for comment, and his wife declined to be interviewed.
Brown, a security guard and former member of the Jamaica Defence Force, sent shock waves throughout the community when he gunned Clarke down shortly after she arrived at the Tender Touch Learning Campus to pick up their child minutes after 6 p.m. last Thursday. The shooting sent people scampering for cover, including a Tender Touch worker who scooped up Brown’s son and dashed back inside.
He then turned the gun on himself and fell, twitching beside the woman his obsession couldn’t allow him to let go of. Clarke died leaving an 11-year-old daughter from a previous relationship.
“Look where him go kill her, right in front the baby. Him couldn’t wait till him reach out a door the way him did hot. Him just hot fi kill, true him have the likkle piece a iron, him just hot fi kill,” said Lucilda Ferguson, Clarke’s grief-stricken mother.
“You and the woman break up, but there are so many women over the whole 14 parishes; go find one next one, nuh man, and just look after your child,” she lamented.
Brown and Clarke met at her workplace in Linstead four years ago, and she soon moved into his West Prospect home in Bog Walk. But two years ago, according to Ferguson, she moved out because of Brown’s jealous and controlling ways.
She rented a house on Church Street in Ewarton several miles away, but the scorned Brown couldn’t stand life without Clarke and kept “calling, calling, calling”. He promised to do better and to change and after, some months, Clarke took him back, but more out of “frustration” than a real desire to be with him, Ferguson said.
He moved in with her at Church Street, which Clarke came to regret.
“This time she said that it get worse because him get more jealous; him no want she talk to anyone . . . ,” Ferguson said.
Brown’s controlling ways, the Observer was told, knew no bounds. He would call Clarke on her cellphone all throughout the day while she’s at work. When she was unable to answer his call because she was tending to customers, it would earn Brown’s wrath. And when she did answer the phone he would fly into an expletive-laced tirade, ignoring her explanation that she had been tending to customers.
She would try appealing to him, explaining that both of them are supposed to be busy at work, so there was no need for him to inundate her with calls.
“If you call me one time for the day you should know that I am okay until we come home later,” Ferguson said her daughter would tell Brown.
But he persisted with his frequent calls, and if she didn’t answer he would call her supervisor’s phone, griping and querying why Clarke wasn’t picking up her phone.
It wasn’t beyond Brown to search Clarke’s cellphone, which he constantly did, according her co-workers.
“She eventually had to ask me to put a security code on it so she could be in peace,” said one of Clarke’s co-workers. “Everybody knew that he was a jealous man, very possessive. The girl couldn’t rest.”
Brown also took to policing Clarke’s social media use.
“Every time [Verona] go online him want to know why she online. We take instruction from our boss online . . . . But when him [Brown] see her online, him always a call to find out why she deh online,” another co-worker said.
Plus, they were always arguing, prompting Clarke’s mum to advise Brown to leave if he and her daughter couldn’t get along.
Things got so bad that close to two weeks before the shooting, Clarke broke it off with Brown, kicking him out of her Church Street home.
“She was getting on with her life. She was relieved. She never missed him because finally she had peace in her life,” her mother said.
But, while Clarke moved on, a seething Brown was about to explode, according to a co-worker of Clarke’s.
In the days leading up to the killing, Brown would cuss and speak ill of Clarke, according to route taxi operators with whom he travelled. After the killing, the taxi men recalled how much Brown had been spewing about Clarke, while riding with them.
“I could never think him would do this,” said Ferguson, who is also trying to cope with the recent death of her own father. “Him just act nice and behind that him is a terrible person.”