A mom's lingering grief, following death of 15-year-old
Grieving mother Latoya Reece

MONTEGO BAY, St James– Latoya Reece is no stranger to grief.

Reece's 15-year-old daughter Nastacia Turner, who was a student at Holmwood Technical High School in Manchester, died earlier in March.

The girl's 15-year-old cousin was taken into custody in relation to her death immediately after, as initial reports indicated that the two girls were fighting when they both fell, causing Turner to hit her head.

However, Reece maintained that her daughter was being constantly bullied, and though she attempted to have the issue squashed, her efforts were not enough. It is believed that a question of paternity played a major role in the girl's bullying.

The grieving mother, who helplessly watched as Turner took her last breath, is now left to pick up the pieces, and two months later, she is still struggling to cope with the fact that she will never see her daughter walking down the street of their Mendez Town, Trelawny, community, as she normally would on her journey from school.

"It has been very sad, because we miss her. I miss her presence very much. I miss her smile and the relationship that we had. I am not coping well, but I am trying my best to go on," Reece told the Jamaica Observer.

She went on to explain that while the days seem to go past, her daughter's death still feels like an open wound, and she spends a lot of time questioning what she could have done differently to save her life.

Another dagger in her heart comes from knowing that her daughter's cousin gets to continue living her life like nothing happened, Reece told the Sunday Observer.

"She is now living in the neighbouring community with her grandparents. She was moved from this community, but people still see her, and I passed her in Christiana the other day. That was very hard for me because I felt the same heartache all over again, because to know that she killed my daughter and is still walking up and down is very sad," the mother said as her voice started to crack.

The image of her daughter lying in the road still plays in the woman's mind as a reminder of what took place on the Tuesday evening when her daughter died. Reece remembers the evening vividly as her daughter came home from school complaining about being bullied by her cousin.

Unlike other reports, Reece told the Sunday Observer that her daughter did not attempt to fight back, and she is left traumatised after seeing Turner's head being slammed onto the road.

Sharing that she became pregnant with Turner at the age of 18, Reece told the Sunday Observer that she spent a lot of birthdays celebrating with her daughter; however, she was robbed of that opportunity last Wednesday on her 34th birthday.

"I cry every day. Wednesday was my birthday, and the whole day I was there sitting on the grave crying," she said.

Meanwhile, Reece stated that neither the parents of the accused teenager nor her uncle, who is Turner's father, have reached out to talk to her after the incident.

They also did not attend the child's funeral, she told the Sunday Observer.

"No, a me alone bury her. Nobody from that side of the family came to the funeral, it was just me and my family," said Reece.

She further explained that her attempts to receive updates from the police were met with roadblocks.

"The police said that I have to wait because her cousin did not use a knife or a stick to hit her, they have to go to some bigger heads in the police force. Nobody would feel good about hearing that, but I just have to wait," she said.

When contacted by the Sunday Observer, commanding officer for the Trelawny Police Division Deputy Superintendent Winston Milton explained that the police was awaiting a ruling from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions to determine if there was criminal liability.

Acknowledging that she was still learning to live without her daughter, Reece said she is hoping to receive counselling to assist her with the process.

"Some people came here when she just passed to talk to me, but they haven't been back since she was buried. I want to get counselling, [but] I don't even know where to go. I am just depressed and confused," Reece said.

BY ROCHELLE CLAYTON Staff reporter claytonr@jamaicaobserver.com

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