TRINIDAD – Murder mystery . . three found dead in burnt out shack

PORT OF SPAIN – A four-year-old child managed to escape death on Wednesday night and later sought refuge at a neighbour’s house after seeing his mother and other occupants killed and then set on fire in their house.

But mystery surrounds the death of the three people discovered by fire-fighters in the house in a squatting community at Tantique Road in Carlsen Field, Freeport, with police still uncertain whether the child’s story is accurate.

The bodies of two adults and a child believed to be around five were discovered in the ruins of the shack, police said. Up to late yesterday evening, Michelle Harrylal, a 27-year-old unemployed mother and her common-law husband Michael Applewhite, 35, a vegetable vendor, were reportedly missing and believed to be the deceased. The identity of the child was still unclear though. Homicide officers at the scene yesterday said they could not immediately identify the bodies because they were burnt beyond recognition.

Residents said the child was found around 8 am yesterday by a female resident. His hands were tied and he was wandering in some bushes some distance away from the house.

It is alleged he ran to the neighbour and said: “My mammy dead, my mammy dead. A policeman kill she and throw she in the fire.”

The child was taken to a neighbour’s house down the street who kept him for several hours.

However, relatives and residents remained baffled about the identities of the three people who perished in the fire up to last evening because they did not know who would have been at the house at the time of the fire.

Police said Applewhite was known to them and had been previously charged for drug possession. At one point residents said they believed the third victim might be Applewhite’s neighbour, known only as “Reddo,” as he had not been seen in the past two days. However, investigators were told that based on the skull of the third victim it could be a child.

In an interview yesterday, Harrylal’s sister, Dana Babwah, said her sister was missing and repeated calls to her phone were unanswered. It was hours before Babwah could confirm that the child who escaped was her nephew. She was reunited with him late yesterday evening.

Babwah said the child was taken to the facility for treatment as he had bruises about his body.

Police initially believed the male body to be that of an 18-year-old, but Babwah said Harrylal’s common-law husband was not a small man in stature.

“He can’t pass as a 18-year-old and they said they might identify him by his gold teeth.”

Babwah and relatives initially made several attempts to see the child while he was at a neighbour’s house but were prevented from doing so.

“I was told I can’t see the child and we brought him food to eat. He was traumatized and needs our family and they told us we can’t see him,” she said.

When Babwah and her father Errol attempted to go to the neighbour’s house they were told repeatedly that they could not see the child.

Babwah said the last time she saw her sister was last week when they went to a beach lime.

District Fire Officer David Joseph-Thomas said fire-fighters at the Chaguanas Fire Station received a call around 11 am yesterday and a team was dispatched.

Thomas said fire-fighters discovered the remains of three people burnt beyond recognition.

“The exact identification and gender could not be determined because they were burnt beyond recognition,” he said.

He said Fire Prevention officers were attempting to ensure and preserve the evidence.

Homicide officers said the child’s father, who is currently incarcerated, had “rights” to the child and the Child Protection Unit and the Children’s Authority had to be contacted.

The officers said since the father was next of kin he would have to be contacted as he had “a say” in what would happen with the child’s future. However, after the scene was “cleared up” the family was granted permission to talk with the child.

Officers from the Chaguanas Fire Station, Chaguanas Police Station, Region Three Homicide Bureau and Crime Scene personnel visited the scene. The autopsy will be conducted today at the Forensic Science Centre, St James.

Investigations are continuing.

Source: (Guardian)

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