The son of a New York-based Jamaican businesswoman and prominent figure in the Jamaican diaspora narrowly escaped with his life after being kidnapped and robbed in Portmore, St Catherine last month.
Ingrid Murray, the principal of a multimillion-dollar building and maintenance services company, is speaking out about her son’s experience in the hope that it will be another reminder for foreigners and locals alike to be aware of their environment and cautious of strangers.
Murray’s 18-year-old son, who was born in Jamaica and currently lives in New York with his family, managed to escape his captors, and was found treading in the sea by members of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF). The young man was covered in bruises, and was escorted by the soldiers to the Greater Portmore (100 Man) Police Station.
The St Catherine South police confirmed the incident with OBSERVER ONLINE.
Murray has since traveled to Jamaica to pick up her son, and is working with local authorities in an ongoing investigation of the incident.
Murray explained to OBSERVER ONLINE that her son had met a young woman on Sunday, May 7, and the two made plans to meet the following Tuesday, with the agreement that her “uncle” would chaperone them, as neither drove.
Initially, she said, they were to travel to Hellshire Beach, but unbeknownst to her son, the plans were changed and the three made their way to a nearby popular restaurant instead. Murray’s son noticed they were traveling past the restaurant, but was assured by the “uncle'' that they would be turning around.
Soon after, the “uncle” reportedly pulled over on the side of the road and another vehicle pulled up alongside them. The “uncle” then jumped into the back seat, and proceeded to physically assault Murray’s son.
The young man was stripped of his clothes, and the assailants took his phone, unlocked it with his face ID, and transferred all his money from his US bank account to another US account, Murray said.
She added that her son was then told, in no uncertain words, that he was going to be killed and his body dumped. According to her son, as the men opened the trunk of the car to put him in it, he seized the opportunity to run. He eventually fell down the hillside and into the sea, where he was discovered by the JDF.
“Because of God's saving Grace I was able to escape and I made it out alive,” the 18-year-old said.
Warning for Visitors
Murray explained that her son visits the island often, and has always planned to return permanently.
“He loves Jamaica,” she said, noting that she will not dissuade him from visiting again, but will continue to emphasise the importance of being vigilant of his surroundings and those he interacts with while here.
“I don’t want Jamaica to be put in a box,” Murray said. “Crime is everywhere, especially now. We have to walk on pins and needles even in New York.”
Murray’s son said the incident has made him more aware and brought him closer to God, but noted that it has not discouraged him from visiting the island.
“Regardless of what happened, Jamaica will always be home, and I will continue to come here. I just learned a harsh life lesson to never trust anyone… This traumatising ordeal has changed me for the better. It has drawn me closer to God and given me a whole new outlook on life as a whole,” Murray’s son, who is still recuperating after being cleared by medical professionals, said.
Murray added, above all, she is grateful her son is still alive.