A family tormented by death begs for support
Nursing student Varshana “Brittany” Malcolm, whose body was among the three found in Queens, New York, is seen here. The 22-year-old’s body had multiple stab wounds.

Devastation, disbelief and dreariness tormented a Jamaican family that woke up on Friday, June 24, to news that the bodies of three members were found inside a house in Queens, New York.

Even more heartbreaking for them, is that one of the relatives had only been in the United States for 10 days — visiting family on summer break from university.

The deceased have been identified as 22-year-old nursing student Varshana “Brittany” Malcolm, 55-year-old Karlene Barnett, and her son, 36-year-old Dervon Brightly, a security guard in Times Square. Malcolm’s body was found with multiple stab wounds to the chest and neck, on a bed with hands taped together. Her mouth was also taped. The other bodies had stab wounds and signs of blunt force trauma to the head.

Contrary to some US media reports that the barbaric murders were carried out by someone who was targeting Malcolm, her cousin, Juliet said she was merely caught in something she knew nothing about.

Karlene Barnett, 55, whose body was found in the basement along with her son’s, had signs of blunt force trauma.

“She was not the target. She is not from there. She lives here (Jamaica). She just go up there to visit. She go UTech (University of Technology, Jamaica)… she just go up there to visit her cousins and come back to Jamaica. They are our cousins. Karlene is our cousin and the guy that died (Brightly) is her first son. Brittany was at the wrong place at the wrong time. She left from Jamaica on Sunday, June 12. She not even deh deh two weeks good,” Juliet, who lives in Jamaica, told the Jamaica Observer in an interview on Wednesday.

One of Malcolm’s past lecturers at UTech told the Sunday Observer that upon hearing the news, she was shocked, as the name immediately stood out.

“I taught her…the name was very familiar and when I checked my register, there she was. It was her. She was so full of promise and potential,” she said.

Thirty-six-year-old Dervon Brightly worked as a security guard in Times Square, New York.

US media reports suggest that the bodies were in the house for at least three days before they were found the Friday by Barnett’s other son. He went to the house to check on them after not hearing from them for two days.

When he got there, he found Malcolm on the second floor and then called police not knowing that his mother and brother were also dead inside. When the police arrived, they found Barnett and Brightly in the basement.

He was questioned by the police and later released after they determined that he had nothing to do with the killings. Alarmed neighbours also reported that they had smelt a foul stench in the community, but were uncertain of the source.

Another cousin living in Jamaica said Barrett’s son is deeply affected by the deadly discovery.

“It lick him chip. Me a wonder a wah kinda position him go see Brittany ina. Him not even did see him mother and him never see him brother. Him did a call dem and nuh get dem, so that is how him reach the house,” she said.

An undated photo of a younger Karlene Barnett and her son, Dervon Brightly.

The Sunday Observer was informed that Malcolm’s mother, whom she lived with in Kingston, has been struggling to cope since she heard.

The last time she heard from her daughter was Wednesday, June 22. According to the family, Barnett was at work and phoned Malcolm who was alone at the house, to inform her that somebody would be stopping by to pick up some clothes. The family said Malcolm was told to let the person inside the house.

The New York Police Department has since named Barnett’s boyfriend, 29-year-old Travis Blake as a suspect, and on Wednesday, they released photos of Blake on a flyer. asking anyone with information to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS.

The flyer, headed by “Wanted for Murder” reads, “The above subject is being sought in connection with a triple homicide which took place on 06/24/2022 inside 116-11 155 street in the confines of the 113 precinct. The above individual was last seen walking north bound on 155 Street from the incident location wearing a white t-shirt and black pants. The above individual is considered armed and dangerous, approach with extreme caution.”

Nursing student Varshana “Brittany” Malcolm, whose body was among the three found in Queens, New York, is seen here. The 22-year-old’s body had multiple stab wounds.

Juliet further told the Sunday Observer, “She texted her mother the same day and seh, ‘Mommy, [a man] a go come for his clothes.’ Her mother was calling her from that time to ask what was the outcome and couldn’t get her. She called her and she texted her and no answer. It look like Brittany was killed first. It is sick.

“She was a hard-working girl. This was supposed to be her last year at UTech and she was going to be a registered nurse. She was jovial and was always laughing. She will just look at you and start laugh for no reason. She nuh deady deady. She was always smiling and she was lively. It is sad,” she added.

Lorna, another cousin, said the family is torn, having lost three other family members in the last three months.

“My family and I are asking everyone to pray for us. We are just crying and asking God for strength. This lick everybody. Karlene’s father bury just the other day in March. It hot. Somebody tell me, ‘Lorna, yuh strong.’ But me nuh strong… me just a try fi be strong and me a beg God fi give me strength,” she said.

“This nuh easy. In the space of three months so much family members dead? Oh God, man. That hot until it cyaa hot no more,” she told the Sunday Observer.

Romardo Lyons

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