Little did Stephanie Thompson know that her routine bath by the river in her community of Copper's Lane, Bath, in St Thomas, would result in her fighting off an attack from a man hell-bent on raping her.
Thompson, 45, told the Jamaica Observer that the same man who tried to rape her is now the person of interest in the abduction of Phylisa Prussia and teenager Winshae Barrett.
According to Thompson, he attempted to rape her shortly before he kidnapped the nine-year-old, who was found Saturday evening. Barrett was rescued two days after.
Thompson explained that she went to the Plantain Garden River around 6:30 pm, where she saw the man scaling fish. After exchanging greetings, Thompson said she went behind a fallen tree to have her bath, not feeling threatened by the man's presence.
“Where he [was] sitting we have a street light there shining down [on] the river. He was there sitting down scaling his fish about four feet away from me. A next little young man came shortly [after] me to bathe too,” Thompson said.
While having her bath, the mother of four stated that the man kept asking if someone was calling him, to which she answered, “Mi nuh know.”
After finishing her bath Thompson said she got dressed and started to leave. Then the man said he was going to see who was calling him. Shortly after leaving the river, Thompson stated that the other man finished bathing and rode off on his bicycle.
She said the other man rode past her when she was nearing her house, but she was not aware that the man who is now the suspect in the abduction was still behind her.
Thompson said: “[Right] near my next neighbour's yard the little young man passed me on his bicycle. It was a little dark, [and] I didn't walk slow. When him [Bryan] speed up and reach me, mi deh at the track in my yard. Mi nuh reach mi doorway, but mi reach a little distance up.”
After turning around, Thompson said she saw Bryan in front of her house, but she thought he was heading to a shop in the lane next to hers. She said that when he approached her pointing a knife at her she started to shout “Murder! Rape!”
“My thinking now [is] that I'm not [turning] my back to him; I faced him and I grabbed his hand with the knife, and I'm not letting go of his hand with the knife,” Thompson said.
Now tussling with Bryan, Thompson told the Sunday Observer that one of her sons rushed out of the house to see what the commotion was about, and that's when he saw the man on top of her.
Thompson said Bryan got up and started running towards her son, but stopped when the father of her children came out of the house and threw a handsaw that was on the veranda at him.
According to Thompson, he dodged the handsaw and started running after her again as she started to run toward her aunt's house that is in the same yard.
“I [couldn't] turn my back to him, because I don't want him to hold me from my back, because he's trying to pull me out of the yard. Di fence is a barb wire, so him a draw mi and mi hitch to the fence and it tore up my frock and tore up the whole a my leg,” she noted.
Thompson further added: “My aunty a scream for murder and help.”
She also explained that after the incident she learnt that her neighbours heard the commotion but decided against investigating because they thought it was an altercation between her and her spouse.
In response to her neighbours' lack of action after hearing her screams and thinking it was a domestic issue, Thompson said, “Even if him [her spouse] did a murder mi, unnu shoulda even come defend me. A every day man a kill woman, so unnuh would a mek him kill mi same way? If dem did come and look dem would a see seh a di boy. Dem wouldn't think seh a mi babyfather.
“The boy wouldn't get fi go down there so for Phylisa, because the whole crowd a wi would a [hold] him,” she suggested.
Continuing, Thompson added that when her spouse charged at Bryan with a machete, he “jumped cross the fence”.
She said her spouse searched high and low for him, but to no avail and, after learning of the abduction of Phylisa, she was too distraught to sleep.
“Phylisa's mother and me grow like we a sister,” she revealed. “Right now it is affecting me. From him [her friend] tell me that mi drop and mi seh, 'Jesus, da one yah terrible!' ” Thompson said, adding that she found out about the abduction on Thursday after returning from the police station to make a report.
“Wi shake up,” Thompson stated, reflecting on the incident, adding that now members of her family are unable to sleep comfortably.
“We don't really sleep with the windows locked. Now the little pickney dem a walk a lock up di house four o'clock in the morning.”
Corroborating Thompson's story, Police Sergeant Carlton Brittony, of Bath Police Station, said: “She [Thompson] said she had to hold on to the knife he had in his hand, because he was coming at her.”
Brittony, who was one of the officers who spoke to Thompson following the incident, explained that Bryan was out on bail, as he had been charged in Portland with rape and illegal possession of firearm. According to Brittony, one of Bryan's bail conditions is that he should not return to Portland unless he's appearing in court.
“This is how he ended up in the parish, because he couldn't really stay in that parish and he had people here he could stay with,” he said, explaining that it was typical for the courts to include this in the conditions for bail in such cases to prevent reprisal or bribery of witnesses.