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Police await forensic results of 'haunted house' fire

Garfield Myers

Friday, June 14, 2013    

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SANTA CRUZ, St Elizabeth — The Junction police are awaiting forensic analysis to assist in determining the cause of a fire, which destroyed a so-called 'haunted house' in Rose Hall, South-east St Elizabeth, last Thursday.

Inspector Joseph Caine, who heads the Junction police, told the Jamaica Observer that scene-of-crime investigators had passed on samples from the scene of the blaze to the Forensic Laboratory in Kingston.

"Samples were taken for analysis and we are hoping results will be forthcoming in short order," Caine told the Observer.

Caine said the investigations, which are being led by the recently promoted Inspector John Salmon, would not be swayed by a popular perception of paranormal activity.

"We are professionals and we have to behave as professionals," Caine said.

Rose Hall, a remote, picturesque community on the north-eastern slopes of the Santa Cruz mountains, has been a centre of attention in recent weeks as a result of unexplained activity, which locals say could only have been caused by "duppies" (ghosts).

Since April 20 there have been sporadic reports of people being hit with stones thrown by unseen hands in and around the doomed house and small, unexplained fires, which destroyed furniture including bedding and settee chairs.

Family members and neighbours say the fire, which destroyed the house last week Wednesday, was of a similarly mysterious ilk. Total damage to the house and contents was estimated by the Fire Department at about $15 million. The house was not insured.

Member of Parliament for South-East St Elizabeth Richard Parchment says he has engaged officials of the Ministry of Transport, Housing and Works and has secured "interim approval" for emergency housing for the displaced family. The initiative would fall under a partnership between the Government and the charity organisation Food for the Poor, Parchment said.

He welcomed news of the "comprehensive" police investigation.

"I want the police to investigate very thoroughly because I am firmly of the view that this is a case of arson," said Parchment.

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