Parents, police, community search for abducted 9-year-old girlSaturday, October 16, 2021
BY BRITTNY HUTCHINSON
Korian Prussia and Latoya Dyer haven't slept since Thursday night when their nine-year-old daughter Phylisa Prussia was abducted from her home in St Thomas by a man who police say is before the court on rape and illegal possession of firearm charges in neighbouring parish Portland.
“The whole night nobody nuh sleep. If we find her alive, if him even rape her and she alive, mi would feel good fi know say she nuh dead. But mi still wouldn't mind him have her and don't do anything,” the distraught father told the Jamaica Observer yesterday as residents of Bottom Yard district in Bath continued a search that began about 7:00 pm Thursday for the child.
Her mother was equally distraught. “Right now, fi tell you the truth, mi have to put the best out there,” Dyer said, her eyes filled with tears. “Mi nuh sleep all now. Mi just deh pon the search. Mi just hope wi find her.”
The parents, who operate a shop at their house, told the Observer that Phylisa was alone on the verandah, playing with her puppy, when the man came to purchase an item some time after 6:00 pm.
According to the parents, after a few seconds, Phylisa's older sister realised that she was not hearing the child. This, she thought, was strange.
“Mi come home 4:00 but mi did have to go back on the road fi work. She [Phylisa] deh here with her sister and she go out on the verandah a play with the puppy. Her sister deh inside and a say how she nuh hear her, because she normally mek noise with the puppy out deh,” said the 41-year-old dad.
“So is like the man come and get her attention, like he was giving her the money and hold on pon her,” he said, adding that closed circuit television footage showed the man taking the little girl in the direction of the Plantain Garden River.
The abduction took place shortly after the child's mother had gone to a nearby shop to purchase food.
“A little after 6:00 I left here Thursday and she and her sister was in the bed and mi seh mi soon come, mi a go buy some stuff,” Dyer said, adding that shortly after 7:00 pm her sister called to say Phylisa was missing.
Phylisa, who is a grade four student at Bath Primary and Junior High School, was described by her parents as a quiet child who always topped her class and was hardly seen outside her home.
Her aunt, Doreen Dyer, corroborated the parents' story.
“None of the four kids dem nuh go a road. Jus' inna dem yard. Only time dem go out a if dem a go a school,” the aunt said.
“Since Phylisa missing mi foot dem get weak. When mi come down the yard mi see the father a come breathless pon one bike a bawl out her name 'Phyl Phyl, come. Phyl Phyl. weh you deh?' A more than 300 people did a search fi har last night [Thursday]. All now we can't find her,” she said.
Yesterday evening, Superintendent Allison Byfield, who is in charge of the St Thomas police, said the constabulary has given the case high priority.
“For a nine-year-old to be missing from 7:00 on Thursday until now we are treating it very serious,” she said.
A report from the constabulary's information arm, the Corporate Communications Unit (CCU), identified the man suspected of abducting the child.
Noting that he is before the courts in Portland, Superintendent Byfield said that a condition of his bail is to remain outside Portland, and that he should only be in the parish when he is attending court.
“He is to report to the Bath Police Station three days per week on condition of his bail. We do have the police in Portland looking out for him because the child was last seen with him,” she said.
The search for the child is being conducted in the wooded areas of the community and along the Plantain Garden River by police assigned to Bath, the CCU, and the Canine Division who are being assisted by a search dog.
Among the search party seen yesterday were members of the Child Protection and Family Services Agency and Ministry of Justice.
Parish manager for the justice ministry's Victim Support Unit Uriel Smith said, “In a case like this, our sole responsibility is to offer counselling to the family and, by extension, community members. This situation calls for a deep concern in terms of where we are going as a nation. It is heart-rending and sad that anybody could have found it in their heart to want to hurt a child.”
The search, the Observer was told, would continue into the night.