IT'S hard to miss the pain on Adrian Brown's face and in his voice as he speaks of his now deceased son, 10-year-old Alex, whose nude body was fished from the Martha Brae River two Thursdays ago.
The boy was his only child.
"Mi couldn't eat, mi couldn't sleep, and anytime mi start eat, mi belly just feel full," the father told the Jamaica Observer of the five-day period his son was missing. He said his last memory of Alex was of him going to school Friday morning. He couldn't remember the last thing he said to him, but said the boy was happy and laughing.
Now that the boy's body has been discovered, the father's pain has given way to anger.
"I'm angry at the way it is being reported," Brown said. "I am angry because the police are making it look as if the children went to the river unsupervised and drowned. And that is not the case. Remains of their clothes were found burnt on the river bank. Up to a blind man could see that they were molested. What were they going to do? Burn their clothes and then jump off in the river?" the man asked, his sarcasm biting.
Alex and his neighbour, seven-year-old Jahvonie Brown (not related) were last seen playing football together last Saturday some metres away from the nearby Holland Housing scheme.
The autopsy reports released last week said the children died as a result of drowning, but having seen the state in which the bodies were found, the family contends that there is more to the story.
Brown said there were visible signs of molestation as the boys' anuses were severely damaged when they were found bottom up in the water, with Jahvonie's intestines protruding. He said both boys' tongues were hanging from their heads and their eyes were bulging. He said they were told the boys were molested and strangled before they were thrown into the river, but that they died as a result of drowning, which was the reason that was recorded on the death certificates.
Brown explained, too, that the autopsy report showed that the boys' last meal was chicken. However, he said Alex had not yet eaten when he left the house Saturday morning, and the meal he had the night before was noodles.
"So how come the last meal the autopsy show was chicken?" Brown queried. The father theorised that the boys were held against their will from Saturday, buggered and fed chicken before being strangled and thrown into the river.
Alex's mother, Kaydian Palmer, is also finding it hard to accept the facts as given by the police and the medical pathologist.
"Romaine would never go river," she said firmly, calling the first of her two children by his pet name. "From a girl drown in the river years ago, Romaine said he would never go 'cause him seh him don't want the same thing to happen to him," she said. "So mi know him wouldn't go river."
Palmer said her son first left the house about 11:00 am to pick plums. He then returned, but left shortly afterward to play with his friends at a spot near the small wooden house he shared with his mother, baby brother and stepfather, Damien Chambers, in Zion. About 2:00 pm when he did not return, Palmer said she went in search of her son, but he was nowhere to be found. Family and friends launched a search for the children that night and the following morning, after which they made a formal report to the police.
When the Sunday Observer visited the community on Thursday, Palmer's face did not betray the raw emotions her words conveyed. The mother of two said she became increasingly distraught in the days leading up to her son's discovery, but it was the sight of her 10-year-old's body that had the greatest impact.
"If you ever see the condition he was in you would cry shame," she said, pausing between thoughts. "It was terrible. I thought I was going to go crazy."
"You could see that they were molested. Because why no other part on their body never mash up so? Him bottom buss up buss up and Jahvonie intestine falling out. If he had died from sickness it would have been easier to deal with," Palmer said.
Alex's grandmother, Eulalee Mitchell, described him as a very active boy who loved mathematics.
"You couldn't fool him with maths," she said. "Him love play football, cricket and marble, and him love make things. He would make coop to put birds in."
She said he was so polite that even if he met strangers, he would refer to them as "aunty" and "uncle".
"Every night he would hug up his mother before going to bed and if she laying down beside the baby he would tell her to move the baby over so he could hug her," she recalled with a sad smile. "He had potential. And he was advanced with technology. When it come to phone, he could fix any problem," Mitchell said of her first grandchild, a former student of Falmouth All-Age.
A few chains away, in another board house on the premises, Jahvonie's parents tried to make sense of what had happened to their youngest son. They, too, were very angry with both the autopsy's report and police's refusal to help them in their search from the beginning.
"The last meal Jahvonie had was rice and ackee," Marshall Brown, father of the seven-year-old, said. "The doctor who did the autopsy said he ate chicken one hour before he went in the water. The doctor also told me he had two slices in his palm, like knife or something like that was used to cut him.
Marshall, too, said he was told by the doctor that there were signs of molestation.
"So we really want to find out from human rights and those people just what is happening, because the police making it look as if they just go river and drown. But you could see that they were handled bad before they died," he said.
Jahvonie's mother, Eunice Smith, was so angry that at first she refused to speak with the Sunday Observer. When she finally did, she said there has been no justice in her child's death.
"I feel it is a cover-up", Smith said. "All the police have to do is come out with the truth so that other parents can know to warn their children of certain things," the mother of five said. "I am angry with the police because if they had helped us search from the beginning we would have found them alive."
She, too, felt the boys were held for days before being dumped in the river.
"If the police had searched as we asked them to, then we would have found the boys. And even if I found Prince and him bottom tear up I would have moved him quietly out of the community and make doctor stitch him up back and mi take care of him," she said.
Prince, as Jahvonie is affectionately called, was described as loving and always smiling.
"Every morning I am going away, Prince would kiss me," his mother said. "Saturday morning was the only morning I did not get any kiss. The only morning I didn't get a kiss was that morning. If mi did only know."
She described her son, who was a student at Troy All-Age, as very quiet and one who didn't give any trouble other than what was expected of boys his age, and who got along well with his siblings.
"He was doing well in school and all his teachers loved him," Smith said.
Weighing in on the issue of the conditions in which the bodies were found, general practitioner Dr Heron Edwards, from Edwards Medical Centre at Liguanea Post Mall, said it is unusual for intestines to come through the anus as a result of drowning.
"I would consider it unusual for them to drown and have their intestines coming out," Dr Heron said. "That is a bit odd. But I can't swear on it, to be honest — but it is odd. My inclination is that something could have happened before they drowned. If they were to drown I can't see any way in which the intestines could come through the anus just like that."
"If they were kidnapped, it could be something that would have happened before that or after they were kidnapped," he added.
He said, however, that the tongues hanging out could be caused from drowning, while the bulging of the eyes could result from restriction in the air supply to the head.
"I think the issue with the pathologist might be that although they may have been buggered, that was not what killed them," Heron reasoned. "Normally, if they were killed before, you wouldn't see much water in the lungs, but if they drowned you would see a lot of water. So you can tell that something had happened from before. So most likely they drowned; that is what killed them. But to say what incident it was that caused the intestines to come out, he (pathologist) couldn't say that was the cause," Heron said. "If, upon examination, he saw recent cuts and tears in the area, that might suggest they were buggered before they drowned."
Last Sunday night Donovan Hazley, also called 'Abbra' from the same community, was hacked to death and his house fire-bombed by residents who alleged his stepson was responsible for buggering and killing the boys. Not able to find the stepson, the residents turned on Hazely.
The dead man's 18-year-old daughter was also severely chopped in the incident and had to undergo emergency surgery.
The boys' families said they were not involved in the killing and had no comment on the incident.
The funeral service for both boys is set for October 7 at the Seventh-day Adventist church in Falmouth.