News

Grief and Anger

Brutal murder of 8-year-old girl shakes St Thomas districts

BY KARYL WALKER Editor — Crime/Court Desk walkerk@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, February 05, 2014    

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THE look on the face of 83-year-old Alice Robinson told of the anger and pain which pulsed through the communities of Top Hill, White Hall and other western St Thomas districts which were shaken to the core by news of the macabre killing of eight-year-old Celeena Edmore on Monday.

As Robinson sat on the steps of her house yesterday, it was plain that she had not come to terms with the reality that her granddaughter, who only hours earlier had been running errands, would no longer bring her joy.

A 19-year-old man is accused of dragging little Celeena into the bushes and slashing her throat in three places, almost severing her head. There are also allegations that the child was raped, but investigators said her remains would have to examined to ascertain that.

Yesterday, even as residents struggled to come to grips with the reality that the little girl had been so violently taken from their midst, they seethed with anger. Many were mad that the accused man was still alive.

"That boy should never eat government food," one man said, suggesting that the accused should not go to prison. "Dem should have come with shovels to remove him body," he continued.

Celeena was on her way to buy pork for her mother, Gloria Whyte, when she was attacked and killed. She should have been in school but, according to a relative, her uniforms had not been washed over the weekend.

The tragedy was too much for Whyte. The woman stared blankly into the distance before breaking down and sobbing heavily.

"Celeena dead. Him kill her," she wailed.

Police held the accused man shortly after the girl's body was found, but not before one angry resident had chopped him.

"It was due to quick action by the police that his life was saved," head of the St Thomas Police Division Superintendent Merrick Watson told the Jamaica Observer. "As soon as we got information we posted police at various points relative to where he was last seen and eventually caught him. If we were not on location as quickly as we were he would have been killed."

Minutes after the arrest, an angry mob descended on the Seaforth Police Station calling for blood. The police were forced to use tear gas to disperse the crowd as the situation threatened to get out of hand.

The mob torched a board house where the accused man lived. A stone's throw away from the burnt-out house, a small trail led to the spot where the child took her last breath.

While Scene of Crime investigators searched for clues yesterday, the anger felt by the residents had obviously not cooled, as one woman lamented the fact that the cops were early on the scene.

"Why the police come so quick? Dem couldn't say dem don't have no vehicle? That boy wicked! All him own mother him beat in her head with a Dutch pot cover and send her to Princess Margaret Hospital. Him seh him must kill him own mother," the woman claimed.

One policeman told the Observer that the accused man did not appear troubled by the brutal killing of

the child.

"He has shown no form of remorse so far," the cop said.

Celeena attended White Hall Primary School, which grief counsellors from the Ministry of Education and the Victim Support Unit as well as member of parliament James Roberston visited yesterday to console and counsel staff and students.

The child's grade three teacher, Hena Williams, said her winning smile would be missed.

"She was a playful child. Always helpful, always smiling, always willing," Williams said with a look of despair.

Robertson, too, was angered by the senseless act and blamed the unwillingness of some residents to provide the police with information, as the accused man was said to have been ordered out of the community by a magistrate for having injured a resident on a previous occasion.

"If it is correct what we are hearing, individuals have not turned up in court to give evidence; individuals who he has chopped, hurt, damaged, including family members. We have to look right through the system, right through the society, right through the State apparatuses to see where the breakdown is. It has taken place on many fronts, including family," Robertson said.

Watson echoed his opinion.

"Since the incident has occurred we have been hearing a number of things about the individual in custody, and if people had reported these things to us it is likely that this would have been prevented," he said.

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