MONTEGO BAY, St James — The police have dispelled vicious rumours of the death of an eight-year-old girl who was among the five persons brutally raped and robbed at gunpoint in Irwin Point, St James, on Monday night, and that a suspect in the incident has been killed.
"That is absolutely not true. The little girl is much alive, and as far as we know no suspect has been killed," a policeman close to the investigations told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.
He added, however, that one man has been taken into custody in connection with the incident, but declined to give details.
The rumours swirled on Facebook and BlackBerry Messenger yesterday and featured a picture of a headless body with captions claiming that the body is that of one of the rapists.
About 10:00 pm on Monday two armed men entered a house in the Irwin Point community and took the five female occupants — which included the eight-year-old — to nearby bushes and raped them.
The incident has drawn widespread rebuke from across the island.
Member of Parliament for East Central St James Edmund Bartlett — in whose constituency the horrific incident occurred— told the Observer last night that he visited the victims yesterday and that they were shocked and disgusted at the rumours.
"They (family members) are concerned that some individuals are using social media and other forms of communications to peddle unfounded comments and statements about the state of health of the ladies, especially the eight-year-old," said Bartlett. "The family would like them to desist from doing this, and instead allow them to absorb the warmth and nurturing of friends and relatives to have their course."
He said the victims were coping with the situation, but with "great challenges".
The MP added that with the "strong prayers" and support from friends and relatives, as well as the country, being offered, their pain will become less burdensome.
Meanwhile, Bartlett said he is encouraged by reports on the state of the investigations.
"I am heartened by the progress that I understand that the security forces are making and I am urging all citizens who may have information on the matter to give it to the police," he urged.
Yesterday, Crime Stop put up a $1-million reward for the arrest and charge of the rapists. The money was donated by members of the private sector.
"Crime Stop is asking anyone who has any information that may assist the police in catching the perpetrators to call... 311. They do not have to give their names, and their calls will be kept in the strictest confidence," it said in a release.
Crime Stop is a partnership between the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ), the Jamaica Constabulary Force and the media and advertising industries. It is financed by PSOJ members.
In the meantime, the Child Development Agency is to lead a group of organisations and concerned citizens on a march to the Secret Garden Children's Memorial at the corner of Tower Street and Church Street today.
Acting CEO of the CDA Rosalee Gage-Grey said the march is to "show solidarity with a call for citizens to wear black and to gather in public places to express their outrage at the continued attacks against women and children".
Support group Women's Inc has called on members of the public to wear black and congregate in public spaces at 10:00 am today in protest against recent acts of sexual violence, particularly against women and children.