BY ALICIA SUTHERLAND Sunday Observer staff reporter email@example.com
MANDEVILLE, Manchester — The mother of slain teenager Martha Byrowe yesterday strongly denied that she neglected her child and was adamant that the 16-year-old student of Cross Keys High School was not living with the man accused of killing her.
Felicia Bell was charged late Friday with two counts of breaches of the Child Care and Protection Act: Failure to report a child in need of care and protection and failure to exercise proper care and guidance to a child.
Byrowe's body was reportedly found with stab wounds to her head on Ash Wednesday, at the home which she allegedly shared with a 33-year-old man popularly known as 'Bruce' and identified by police as Sebastion Salmon in Top Albion, Manchester.
However, Bell told the Sunday Observer that Salmon, who was apprehended by the police yesterday, was a close friend whom she had known for many years.
She said that although it was by coincidence that they ended up being neighbours when she moved from Cross Keys District to Top Albion about a year ago, Salmon and her family were close in the past.
Years ago, Bell said, when she was a student of May Pen High and living at Sevens Road, Clarendon, Salmon -- then a young boy -- regularly visited friends there.
Forty-six-year-old Bell said that she and her children quickly formed an interdependent relationship with Salmon, particularly because she had no electricity and water and they could do their ironing, washing and sometimes cooking at his home.
"Everybody jus' go and come. He was like a family member. Bruce come een like a mi brother. Is a tradition wi a come from," said Bell, a domestic helper.
"Mi caan stop grieve over mi daughter. Mi just feel lonely and feel down," she added.
Though she insists that she is innocent, Bell will have to appear in the Mandeville Resident Magistrate's Court on Wednesday, February 20 to answer to the charges against her.
But she is also in search of answers.
While not wishing to speak to the accused directly, Bell said that she is curious to know why her daughter was killed.
"Mi nuh waan talk to him (but) mi waan know why," she said.
Community member Davion Holness was also in disbelief that Salmon could be the villain at the centre of the sordid act.
He described the accused as "calm" and disclosed that if he did not disappear after the incident there would be no doubt about his innocence.
"If this never happen he would be out here," Holness said, referring to the spot under a tree in the community where he often relaxed with other residents.
Holness said that even after seeing Byrowe's cold body he was not convinced that she was actually gone.
"All when mi see har mi still couldn't believe. She was nice, friendly and have manners," he said.
The grieving mother also had to deal with the loss of Byrowe's father when she was just one year old.