News

Police probing whether obsession led to nursing student, friend's death

Abusive man didn’t want girlfriend talking to anyone

BY PAUL HENRY Coordinator -- Crime/Court Desk henryp@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, December 29, 2013    

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A relationship with an obsessed and abusive man is being blamed for the murder of two female cousins, one of whom had only returned from New York on a visit a day before the brutal killings.

Relatives of victim Franciena Johnson — a 19-year-old nursing student of addresses in Jacob's Hut, in May Pen, Clarendon and Brooklyn, New York — told the Jamaica Observer on Friday that her relations with her boyfriend, whom the police have named as a person of interest in the murders, had been rife with abuse.

According to relatives, the boyfriend had in the past threatened to take Johnson's life if she ended the relationship.

On Friday, December 20 — on what was supposed to be the three-year anniversary of their relationship — Johnson's body was fished from the Salt Marsh River in Clarendon after residents phoned the police about explosions in the area.

The body, which had multiple gunshot wounds, was discovered hours after a missing person report was filed with the May Pen police regarding Johnson and her cousin Nordia Fearon, 19, who is of a Foga Road address in Salt River.

Fearon's body was recovered from the river three days later.

The Clarendon police on Friday named Johnson's boyfriend, Ricardo Grey, as a person of interest in the murders.

Grey is also known as Baugh, Liston Dixon and Liston Grey. He is said to frequent Greater Portmore and Spanish Town in St Catherine; Western Park, Farm/Effortville, Buck's Avenue, Bucknor, Buck's Common, Longville Park/Salt River in Clarendon; Little London in Westmoreland; and Spaldings and Christiana in Manchester.

On Friday, the Sunday Observer visited relatives of the murdered teens in Clarendon. At Fearon's father's yard, a black banner, bearing pictures of the teen, hung above the gateway. Similar pictures were mounted around

the community.

A large group of relatives, their faces hung with mournful expressions, was gathered at the yard.

They told the Sunday Observer that Grey was "very jealous" of Johnson and that he didn't want her talking to anyone.

"Franciena had issues with her boyfriend," said a cousin. "He kept threatening that he's going to kill her if she leaves."

They related instances when Grey allegedly assaulted Johnson, including an incident at a dance they had attended before Johnson migrated to the United States to live with her mother over a year ago.

Emily Johnson, the victim's grandmother by her father's side, said that her granddaughter was indeed abused but that she never reported it to the police.

The grandmother said that about two years ago Johnson visited her with a swollen face and refused to say what had happened.

"I said to her, 'I know that you were fighting or your boyfriend beat you up', but she didn't respond," the elderly Johnson told the Sunday Observer.

She said she told her granddaughter to take Grey to her, which she did. She said she scolded Grey and asked him why he assaulted the person he claimed to love, but he kept his head hung and said nothing.

At the end of it all, Johnson said, she told Grey, "If you find that you and her can't [get along] leave her out, but don't put back your hand on her."

Ironically, Johnson said that when she first met Grey, after hearing that he was in a relationship with her granddaughter, she told him that she didn't "send her out to look boyfriend" and asked him to "take care of her and don't ill treat her". His response, she said, was that he loved her granddaughter.

The woman said she found it strange that Grey had picked up Johnson at the airport when she arrived on the island on Thursday and that no one has seen him in the area since the bodies were found and that he called no one in the family to enquire about what had happened.

A cousin of the teen said that Grey had picked up Johnson and Fearon in May Pen on Friday evening.

But while Grey may not have called any relatives of Johnson, he was actively making postings on his Facebook wall. He didn't address comments from Johnson's friends who wanted to know what had happened.

"2day mek 3 years now mi an u a tlk y u affi left mi 2 day crying...," he said in one post.

"Candy no," he said in another.

In another set of postings a Facebook friend said she heard that Johnson was killed by her boyfriend.

Another friend told her that "Liston is her boyfriend".

Grey, who appears on Facebook as Liston Dixon, posted in response, "yes she is mi wife an dem kill r crying..."

The Facebook friend, who said she heard that the boyfriend did the killing, later responded: "I know that's y I was puzzled."

A cousin of Johnson's told the Sunday Observer that she had broken off the relationship with Grey but still had him listed on her Facebook page as her boyfriend.

A funeral service for Johnson is scheduled for Saturday at a location to be announced.

Meanwhile, Fearon's mother, Arlene Robinson, said that her daughter's killer should be brought to justice. She said her daughter was a "loving and kind person, who got along with everyone".

This would have been her last year at Knox College.

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