(Jamaica Observer) A well-known justice of the peace was found dead in his partially razed home in what police theorised to be a murder on Syres Road, off Molynes Road, in St Andrew yesterday.
Investigators identified the dead man as Roy Beckford, who they said was about 67 years old. Beckford was found dead by firefighters who responded to a blaze at his home about 3:00 pm, police said.
“We saw what appeared to be stab wounds on his body, and he was lying on his belly in a hallway inside the house,” said a policeman on the scene.
“We cannot say how he died or anything else related to the investigation at this time. We will have to wait on a post-mortem to say for sure what happened,” added the cop when pressed for more information.
The policeman also declined to speak about the role of a woman, who was being questioned by another cop inside a police service vehicle nearby.
However, people at the scene, said the woman was the helper of another resident who lived in a separate section of the ill-fated premises. She was allegedly at the house when the fire started, one man said.
“She was around the back. Is when the flame started to come up high from the house, and we start run go in there, [that] she realised what was happening and run out,” the man said, pointing to a section of the house where the helper was said to have been washing.
The residents speculated that Beckford may have been killed by men who he, in recent months, had been inviting to his home frequently.
The men would drive to the house, said the residents. They also said that on numerous occasions Beckford was heard arguing with his guests.
“I got up this morning and I saw the yard gate wide open. I found that strange because that man’s gate is never left open,” said the man. “It stayed that way until about 3:00 this evening when the car came back and the men started packing out some things from the vehicle,” he continued.
He did not say what the men were taking from the car into the house, however, he said that after they had finished, they drove away.
“After that we just started to see pure fire coming from the house,” the man said, adding that he and others immediately started to douse the fire with water.
Firefighters soon arrived on the scene, he said. After they found Beckford’s body sprawled inside, they secured the premises.
According to neighbours, at least one of the men who was seen leaving Beckford’s house before the fire was a frequent visitor. He was about 17 years old and would help the elderly man with household chores, including bathing his dogs, they said.
Beckford, the residents said, was well respected in the community and was among the awardees on National Heroes’ Day this year.