Community grieves after 2 American missionaries found dead

By RENAE DIXON Observer staff reporter dixonr@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, May 01, 2016

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PORT MARIA, St Mary — Sunday afternoons are traditionally spent at home with family members in Jamaica; however, for the residents of Boscobel in St Mary, Sunday, May 1 was spent searching for a man they loved, even as they grieved for another.


Their hope was to find Harold Nichols alive; however, they were left disappointed and overcome with grief as Nichols’ body was discovered after 4:00 pm yesterday. The body of 48-year-old Randy Hentzel had been found a day earlier on Saturday afternoon, after 12:00 pm. However, there were no signs of his colleague, missionary Nichols, after the two went on a trail in the Albion Mountain area on Saturday.


Reports from the St Mary police are that the two men rented motorcycles in Ocho Rios and went on the trail. Residents stumbled on Hentzel’s body after 12:00 pm and the police were summoned.


Deputy Superintendent of Police Dwight Powell said Hentzel’s body was found face down with his hands bound with a piece of cloth believed to be torn from his shirt. One of the motorcycles was seen beside his body. The second motorcycle was found approximately three chains away. However, there was no sign of the second missionary.


While residents hoped for the best on Sunday, they were left disappointed after the body of the second missionary was found. His head was reportedly bashed in.


The police, along with approximately 70 residents, searched for Nichols from approximately 7:00 am Sunday morning until after 2:00 pm. They later returned to search with the help of canines when the body was found.


The two men, who have been visiting Jamaica for the past 14 years, have done much work in the Boscobel area.


"They have Bible study at their homes; every day the children go there," Councillor for the Boscobel Division Fitzroy Wilson said.


"I have been working with him for the past six to seven years," Wilson said of Nichols.


Such was the evidence of their work, that residents turned out in their numbers to aid in Sunday’s search.


"When the children go to Bible study, he provided refreshments for them. He helped some of the kids with money for school, with their back-to-school," Wilson said. He said Nichols and his team also built homes in the Boscobel area for indigent people.


"We have three houses now that we are working on, and just [last] Tuesday we had a meeting," he said. He said at the meeting it was revealed that a mission team would visit the island next week and work would have continued to assist the residents.


"It’s just sad. It is very, very sad," Wilson said.


An elderly woman who was among the residents said she was out with those who searched on Sunday because she, too, has benefited from the assistance of Nichols and his team.


"That man build a house and give me," Goffeth Miller said.


Sharon Scott of the Red Cross in Boscobel said Nichols assisted the team to build a house for a homeless man last August.


"Those two men are two well-loved men in the community," she said.


Scott said residents wept openly on Sunday after the gruesome discovery was made in the Albion Mountain area.

 

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