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Horrific Killings — Missing children found dead in Trelawny pond

Missing children found dead in Trelawny pond

BY HORACE HINES Observer staff reporter hinesh@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, July 16, 2014    

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MARTHA BRAE, Trelawny — A heavy pall of grief hung over this town last night after police confirmed that the bodies found floating in a pond in the Martha Brae area of Trelawny early yesterday were those of the two St James children who were reported missing on Sunday after they went on a beach trip in Montego Bay.

They have been identified as 10-year-old Meleeka Mitchell, otherwise called 'Jody', and 12-year-old Omari Sterling, both of Paradise Norwood, St James.

The result of an on-the-spot autopsy could not be ascertained up to press time. However, a police source close to the investigation told the Jamaica Observer that the boy, who was found in the water with his hands bound behind him, had a stab wound to the chest, while the girl, who was found in the nude, is believed to have drowned.

The bodies were found in one of several ponds situated near a section of the Martha Brae River by two men who went crab hunting.

"We were catching crabs and we were walking past and mek a one look inna the pond; we usually look inna the pond; so mi and mi brethren walk off, same time wi look and wi see a brown thing... wi feel it was a dead dog, but wi never sure. So wi shine the light in the water, then wi see sey is a dead youth. Wi walk go down more and see another one," Kevon Mitchell, also called Jabez, told the Observer.

The police were then called to the scene.

When news of the gruesome find broke, a large crowd converged several metres from the shallow pond located in an isolated area surrounded by trees.

The curious onlookers were denied access to the area by steely-faced police officers.

Among the many onlookers were the distraught parents and family members of the two slain children.

According to Meleeka's mother, Devona Kerr, her daughter was among a number of community members who were at the 'One Man Beach' in Montego Bay when she and Omari were lured away by a man whose hands and feet were heavily tattooed.

She claimed that she heard that the man, who positioned himself under the tree where the children donned their swimwear, sent a little boy from the group to call her daughter.

After doling out cash to the rest of the group to purchase hamburgers, the man allegedly made off with Meleeka and Omari.

She described her daughter as "friendly with everybody" and theorised that that contributed to the man being able to kidnap her.

Meanwhile, Omari's mother, who collapsed upon her arrival at the scene where the bodies were found, had to be rushed to receive medical attention.

Omari's father, Everton Sterling, who turned up at the scene, said: "Mi just leave everything to God because yu see in life, a lot of people the money a come a dem foot, but dem a use it the wrong way. Dem a use it a kill off the youth dem. Mi is a street man, and things soon manifest."

Several residents of Trelawny also expressed shock at the killings and called for more protection for the nation's children.

Yesterday evening, the Office of the Children's Registry (OCR) said it was troubled by the children's killing and urged parents and caregivers to provide proper supervision for children in their care.

"It is unfortunate that these young children died under such tragic circumstances; however, I wish to use this opportunity to encourage parents and caregivers to provide proper supervision for their children, especially during the summer period when they are out of school," said registrar at the OCR Greig Smith.

Meanwhile, Olivia 'Babsy' Grange, the Opposition spokeswoman on youth, in condemning the "horrendous killing" of the children, urged people with information on the incident to pass it on to the police.

"I extend a heartfelt plea to my fellow Jamaicans for anyone who has any information, no matter how small and seemingly unimportant, whatever you might remember or know, a cap, a shirt, a licence plate number, a type of phone, a bag, this is information that can guide the police to apprehend and bring to justice whoever committed this heinous act, please pass the information on," she appealed.

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