OCHO RIOS, St Ann — It has been a rough year for Sandra Cousins and her family, who are still trying to deal with the sudden disappearance of her common-law husband Leroy Brown, aged 57.
Brown's bus was reportedly found at a gas station in Ocho Rios last year August after he was reported missing. He has not been seen since.
August 13 marked one year since anyone heard from, or saw the JUTA tour bus operator. With nothing after one year, Cousins said that she is frustrated and is hurting especially for her seven-year-old son who was close to his father.
"My baby hurting," an emotional Cousins told the Jamaica Observer.
"Him say, 'Mi wish me did dead or mi prefer mi two foot did cut off and mi know weh daddy de'," said the traumatised mother, who has had several health challenges since Brown's disappearance.
"My baby move from 90 per cent to zero in his class," she emphasised about the youth's performance in school.
"Him keep wondering if dem cut up him daddy or if John Crow eat him,"
She now has to be taking him for counselling sessions regularly, and even that seems not to be helping.
"I watch him just shut down. I carry him for counselling and leave him in the room and they have to call me to come comfort him," she said.
The mother, who has also been faced with great financial strain since Brown's disappearance, said that watching her son's behaviour was devastating.
"If him hear vehicle at nights him open the window a look if dem let go him daddy," she stated.
Cousins said that she has tried to be strong for her children, but the tears still flow when they are asleep at nights.
"Mi can't cry no more in front of him so a go inna the bathroom at 3 and 4 o'clock in the morning," a teary-eyed Cousins stated.
The mother of three of Brown's five children said that all she needs to know is what happened to the man who was always caring for and supporting his family.
"Mi need answers," she said.
Cousins said that she is not pleased with the way that the police investigations are going.
"Nobody no call mi fi say dem hear anything or if dem still a investigate," she said.
The mother said that she has had to be calling to find out what was happening and she is constantly told the investigator in the matter has changed.
"Mi just need to know the truth," she said. "If a woman him gone wid, mi can deal wid it. If him dead mi can deal wid it. Mi want to know mi can pick two leaves go put on his grave," she added.
Cousins said that she needs closure. She explained that she cannot bring herself to have a funeral for him as she needs evidence that he is dead.
"Mi can't do it," she said, shaking her head.
"If mi know which part Leroy bone dem deh, mi tek dem up and walk and beg and bury him," she stated.
Following Brown's disappearance, Cousins said that she has walked miles, day and night, searching in bushes, trying to find him.
She showed several scars on her skin as evidence that she has travelled for miles through thickets and thorns to find the man she knew for over 20 years.
While she seeks closure, Cousins believes there is much more that law enforcers could do to try and locate Brown.
She said that when he was first reported missing, the matter was not dealt with expeditiously, as when his bus was found, she was told to get a locksmith and take the bus home.
It was after further evidence was found that the bus was turned into a crime scene, she said.
But much more disheartening to her, Cousins said, is the fact that the battery in the bus was stolen while it was parked at the police station.
"All I got was 'we are sorry'," she said.
She said that the insurance and other papers for the bus were taken from her by the police, but she has not got them back and although she has the bus in her possession, she is not able to do anything with it to ease the financial strain that she faces.
However, her major concern, she said, is the way the investigations have been going. She believes that the police have disregarded vital evidence and are not giving the case much attention.
"I have asked for an appointment with the commissioner, but all they do is take my name and number and promised to get back to me," she stated.
"There are days when I go to work and can't function. There is not one police station in Jamaica where mi no call. Mi tek it upon miself to call Digicel (to find out if they could help to find Brown by tracing his phone and looking at call history), but dem say mi can't do it," Cousins said.
The depressed woman said that she has tried all means possible to find out what has happened to Brown, who, on the day of his disappearance asked that she withdraw money from two accounts and give to a man whom he would send to see her.
That was the last time she heard from him.
Cousins wants the police to do more in their investigations and to inform her about what is happening.
"It is not like him to just disappear. A nuh somebody who nuh communicate," Cousins said, emphasising how close he was to his family.
"Mi feel angry, frustrated. Sometimes mi feel useless and mi know mi try," she stated.