ATTORNEY-AT-LAW Clover Maxine Graham only returned home last week from London where she hoped to dampen the still painful memories of her son’s brutal murder, as she basked in the euphoria of Jamaica’s Olympic performance.
The joy of the Olympics turned to grief yesterday morning when police found the body of the 56-year-old lawyer on the infield of the Caymanas Polo Club, off the Mandela Highway in St Catherine. The corpse was lying face-down with its throat slashed — a similar position in which her son, Taiwo McKenzie and his girlfriend Jhanel Whyte, the victims of the horrific 2007 ‘Good Samaritan’ killings, were found.
The discovery, according to Graham’s daughter, Zakiya, was a heart-rending end to a night of searching. Zakiya, eight months pregnant, looked on despondent as investigators combed the area near her mother’s body for clues.
“I don’t know if it is the baby why I am (calm) like this,” said Zakiya, rubbing her belly as she leaned against her teary-eyed boyfriend for support. “I don’t cry yet, just one and two tears from morning, and I’m concerned for myself because of it,” she continued.
Zakiya appeared the strongest compared with her sister and other female friends who sobbed uncontrollably at the scene. They all had been visiting hospitals throughout the night in search of Graham, whose car police found abandoned in the Waltham Park Road community in Kingston.
“They (police) found the car last night and called us. I was the one who filed a missing person’s report and from that time we have just been calling around, visiting different hospitals to see if she was in any of them,” related Zakiya.
She said police called her to the murder scene about 7:00 am.
“She just came back from London last week; not even a week good and dem kill her,” sighed Zakiya, her bewildered boyfriend staring on. To him Graham was “like a mother”, especially after the death of his own mother recently. He fought back tears as he comforted his woman.
Graham, a University of Technology lecturer and UN representative, hailed from Eltham Acres in Spanish Town, St Catherine. Police theorised that she was abducted while entering her home Saturday night.
Police found the lock on her front grille opened, said Zakiya, adding that her mother headed home after visiting a friend in Hope Pastures, St Andrew.
Two months ago, 24-year-old André Ennis of Havendale, St Andrew, and 24-year-old Passmore Millings, also called Shane Brown, of Gregory Park, St Catherine, both labourers, were convicted for slashing the throats of McKenzie and his girlfriend, before dumping them in bushes in Mount Salus, St Andrew, in November 2007.
Dubbed the ‘Good Samaritans’, the couple had gone to the area with medication and other supplies for Ennis and George Cooper (later turned state witness) who they had hit from a motorcycle while driving along Border Avenue in St Andrew, a week earlier.
Ennis and Millings are to be sentenced for those murders next month.
Yesterday, Zakiya could not say whether Graham had been receiving threats since the men’s conviction. She noted, however, that her mother’s Eltham Acres dwelling was broken into during the London trip, and that the burglars only took bottles of liquor from the premises.
“Since my brother’s death she didn’t have to stay in Jamaica, none of us had to stay in Jamaica. But my mother just never wanted to leave. She always said Jamaica was her home,” said Zakiya, explaining that her mother was not frightened much by the break-in.
Yesterday, Ian Wilkinson, president of the Jamaican Bar Association, said the organisation was saddened by Graham’s death, and sent condolence to her family. He described Graham as “well-mannered and dedicated”, and said that she had spent much of her time doing legal-aid work.