Headless body identified as Leonora girl

Police last night said that the headless corpse found crammed into a suitcase at Madewini is that of 16-year-old Neesa Lalita Gopaul of Leonora and three persons are in custody in a tragedy laced with reports of morphine and abuse.

Neesa Lalita Gopaul

The statement said that the police had taken “three persons into custody as they continue with investigations pertaining to the discovery of the headless corpse of a woman with a broken left hand, found about 14:45 hrs (on) Saturday October 2, 2010, at the Emerald Tower Resort,  Madewini, Linden Soesdyke Highway.”

It added that “sleuths  at the scene found a passport in the name of Neesa Lalita Gopaul together with other documents as they removed the body from a suitcase which was tied with rope and anchored by a piece of iron in the Madewini creek.

“The person whose name appeared on the travel document was reported missing since September 24, 2010. This evening the body was identified by close relatives as that of the person whose name appeared on the passport. The body of Nessa Lalita Gopaul is at a city mortuary awaiting post mortem as investigations are continuing.”

The decomposing body was found floating near a creek at the Emerald Tower resort by persons who went picnicking.

At the Leonora Police Station yesterday, the mother of the high school student of Leonora Public Road, West Demerara was being grilled. Gopaul went missing two Fridays ago but was only reported missing three days after by her mother. The woman’s partner and his legally married wife were also being questioned by the police.

Anna Catherina resident, Kayoum and his wife Anida Kayoum told this newspaper at their home yesterday that their granddaughter, who placed 10th in the country when she sat the Common Entrance Examinations several years ago, may have been killed “because she know too much”.

The section of the creek at Emerald Tower where Neesa Gopaul’s deteriorating body was discovered on Saturday afternoon.

He explained that the girl’s father  passed away “suddenly” about a year ago and some three weeks after the man was buried, his daughter, the widow, struck up a relationship with a man from Leonora. He said that his first encounter with the man was a sign of things to come, noting that the man appeared demanding and controlling while his daughter appeared confused at the time.

He said as time went by his daughter and her new partner spent a large amount in cash which he noted the woman’s late husband worked hard to save to ensure his family lived a happy life.

He said sometime last year, his daughter’s husband took ill and two months after he was diagnosed with kidney cancer.

He said the deceased had left his house, his car and jewellery  as well as death benefits to be divided between his two children, Neesa and her  5-year old sister.

Sometime last month, another relative noted, the woman told her relatives that her partner would abuse her and that she wanted to make a report to the police.  She said she was also threatened.

He said the matter was reported to the police but after spending three days in the lock-ups the man was released. Sometime after, Neesa lodged a complaint to relatives about the man. Kayoum said the police had knowledge of the case but no action was taken.

Early last month, Kayoum said another of his daughters arrived in the country from Barbados and she secured a restraining order to have her sister’s partner, stay away from the family’s home at Leonora. He said this was done after his overseas-based daughter and her sister discovered a bottle with anesthetic along with a syringe  hidden in the bathroom of the home at Leonora.

The instruments, he explained, were taken to the police while the family also reported other suspicions to the police.

He said what was more confusing about the entire scenario is that the police are in possession of a mobile phone which the man’s wife by marriage had given to his granddaughter, “so that she can monitor what going on in the house”.

Then sometime around September 9th last, a series of events took place which the teen’s grandfather noted, police investigators took into account yesterday in his presence at the Leonora Police Station as his daughter, her partner and the man’s wife were being questioned.

Kayoum said on that day, his granddaughter stole his mobile phone, and the week, during which she went missing, the young woman made several calls and sent several text messages to another mobile number, a situation which he found “confusing”.

Text messages

The messages warned that someone  should be cautious as the police were attempting to prove him/her  dangerous while another which was sent on September 21st, three days before the young woman went missing, said, “I fed up trying to save u, I goin to give a statement dis afternoon about ur morphine ..and those calls you made last nite…”

Another message which was sent earlier that day read, “If you got drugs in da house u need 2 get rid of it,n deres a bottle of morphine here with your fingerprints if you want it lemme kno and stop trying to scare the…. out of us”. The police at Leonora were shown the messages yesterday, the teen’s grandfather reported.

Recounting what transpired yesterday, the teen’s grandfather said sometime around 6 am, ranks of the Leonora Police Station called him and after questioning his relationship to Neesa Gopaul, informed that the young lady was dead and that he should visit the police station.

Neesa Lalita Gopaul

He said the ranks later took his daughter to her home, which is a stone’s throw away from the Leonora Police Station and searched it.  He said that a  suitcase, which was filled with clothes belonging to his daughter and her partner, was discovered by the police in the trunk of a car which was parked at the bottom of the house and when questioned, the woman was at a loss for words but told the ranks that she packs clothes whenever she goes out. The police also impounded a black Toyota pick-up which according to reports is suspected of being used in the disappearance of Neesa Gopaul. The vehicle was sprayed over into its present colour one week ago, a source noted.

The teenager’s mother was late yesterday afternoon being grilled by ranks at the La Grange Police Station while her partner remained behind bars at the Leonora Police station. His wife was also being questioned at the Den Amstel police station yesterday afternoon.

Emerald Tower

When Stabroek News visited the Madewini area yesterday residents told this newspaper that police had earlier removed the piece of iron which was used to anchor the suitcase containing Neesa Gopaul’s body to the bottom of the creek.

In recent years Emerald Tower lured tourists with its natural setting and green beauty tucked away about a mile off the Linden/Soesdyke Highway. Now the once tamed natural retreat is just a collection of dilapidated buildings overgrown with weeds, Holly (not her real name) said, and makes the perfect hiding spot for “sinister activities”.

“Those buildings don’t serve a purpose anymore. They only give all kind of strange people a reason to go down that trail…is about time they tear them down or try to restrict public access to the area or something,” the woman said. Holly explained that her friend and her overseas-based boyfriend had wanted to see what used to be Emerald Tower. Just after noon on Saturday, the woman said, she decided to take them to the old resort. Finding a dead female in a suitcase, Holly said, is the last thing she expected to do as she and her friends talked about whether they wanted to swim in the creek which runs through the resort.

“So I was standing there by the water,” the woman, still disturbed by her recent discovery, recalled, “when I saw this thing floating just below the water and I wanted to know what it was.”

Her friends, Holly said, were not too keen on investigating just what was beneath the water but she insisted that she wanted to know and started poking at it with a stick. It was then that she noticed something which looked like flesh floating from the opening.

“At first I thought that somebody might’ve dumped the remains of some animal and left it there…but later when I realized it was a woman I was so scared,” she said.

After she made the discovery, Holly said, she and the others went back to her house. They were all in shock and some time, she admitted, elapsed before they contacted police. The closest police point to that location, she said, is the Kuru Kuru Outpost.

Many “strange vehicles”, Holly told Stabroek News, frequented the trail leading to Emerald Tower. Two nights during the last two weeks, she recalled, the same vehicle went down the Emerald Tower trail.

“It was less than a week ago that I remember seeing this black vehicle going in and out of the trail…all sorts of people come in here. Men come with their women and to tell you the truth I am afraid to live in this place now,” Holly stated.

Some three years ago, the woman also recalled, the decomposing body of a woman was found along the same trail wrapped in tarpaulin.

(By Alva Solomon and Sara Bharrat)

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