Killers rob Manchester of ‘benevolent’ Christian couple
ASH Wednesday was no ordinary holiday for friends and relatives of Lansil Gregory, 71, and his 74-year-old wife Corita, who had gathered to clean the couple’s rural Manchester home.
While lively music of an old-time church song blared from a car parked in the yard, the atmosphere was redolent with gloom and the tragedy that had struck could be felt.
The couple, described as devoted Christians, was chopped to death late Sunday evening after returning from church. Their burgundy Toyota Camry motorcar was stolen along with other valuables from their home.
When the Jamaica Observer visited on Wednesday, the strong scent of detergent filled the air as it masked the blood odour that was being washed from the walls and floors. The small traces of blood that could be seen at the time were soon washed away as people busied themselves, trying to restore the home to its former glory.
Lansil’s cousin Alwyn Gregory told the Sunday Observer that it had become a daily routine for their daughter Nadine Gregory, who resides in Boston, to check in with her parents due to a robbery at the house two years ago. When calls to their phones between Sunday evening and Monday went unanswered, she grew worried and initiated a search.
Alwyn, a former officer in the Jamaica Defence Force, said that upon visiting the house Monday evening, he saw droplets of blood on the veranda and summoned the police. They along with help from neighbours cut the veranda grille to enter the house and were greeted with the raw smell of blood before stumbling on Corita’s body in the living room.
Just around the corner Lansil’s lifeless body lay in the passage leading to their bedroom. His blood had seeped through the wooden-floor bedroom he shared with Corita and into the garage down below. They were both still dressed in church attire when their lives were snuffed out.
Alwyn found it strange that Lansil’s walking cane, which he needed for support, was found in the living room, a good distance from where his body was. “After he got a stroke in 1986, we nursed him back to the point where he could walk, but he lost the use of his left arm and walked with a limp,” the couple’s only son, Patrick Gregory, revealed to the Sunday Observer.
The wicked nature of the assault on Lansil, a limp, elderly man, caused Alwyn to surmise that their killers were familiar to them. He theorised that the attackers waylaid his cousins as they arrived. “The brutality of the attack tells me that at least one of the murderers was someone known to them and probably didn’t want any witnesses” he said. The police reported that Lansil’s and Corita’s bodies had several chop and stab wounds.
Lansil made his living as a truck driver and built the home — where he met his demise — in the community of Edinburgh in Newport, Manchester. After the stroke, he emigrated to the United States with Corita, who worked as a nurse’s aide taking care of the elderly. There, Lansil operated as a school bus driver and hired someone to operate his truck in Jamaica.
Together the couple built an apartment and another house in the parish, which they rented and subsequently lived off its income after retiring some 10 years ago, Patrick recalled.
“To be truthful, they never really migrated because they travelled back and forth a lot, staying at different times with each of the children who had also migrated,” he added.
They were benevolent people, Alwyn expressed, always giving back. He said that whenever the two travelled, they returned with goodies to be donated. They were also said to be the driving force behind the renovation of the Windsor Forest Church of God in which they were married in 1968. The last eight years of their lives were dedicated to working on that project.
Pastor Veira Thomas noted that by the time the structure was 90 per cent done, the old stone-cut church was more than twice its original size. They spent their final hours in the building and left the compound about 6:30pm on Sunday, the pastor informed.
The gruesome nature in which the two were killed has caused the family great distress, Alwyn bemoaned, but he is doubly hurt by the fact that it may take the family close to two months before they are laid to rest.
He said the police informed him that it could take up to six weeks for the autopsy to be done, due to a shortage of government pathologists, which had created a backlog of cases and the process could only be done at the forensic lab in Kingston.
“I find the possibly long delay in conducting the autopsies a most unacceptable, egregious state of affairs,” he lamented. “Firstly, it is very possible that critical evidence and clues will be lost or contaminated by any delay in doing the autopsies. Secondly, this will cause additional grief to their already highly traumatised children and family.”
Alwyn reasoned that being unable to bury “Aunt Corita and Uncle Lanny”, as he called them, will hinder the family from getting the much-needed closure that comes with putting their loved ones to rest.
The couple is survived by their six children, eight grandchildren and one great-grandchild. Lansil’s 94-year-old father is also alive and resides in a nearby community. Alwyn said the couple had visited him sometime between 1:00pm and 4:00pm on Sunday.