With bloodstains still on the walls, Cedric Blackman’s widow could not bear to spend the first night after his death in their house. Instead she slept over at friends, who live across the street, and returned home early yesterday morning to find the place ransacked and almost $1 million in cash and valuables missing.
One of the men who broke into Phelmena Lancaster’s house was arrested hours after a resident saw him leaving the Lot 57 Russell and Howes streets place weighed down with loot.
The loot included cans of blue paint Blackman, who was chopped to death on Tuesday morning by a man who reportedly went “berserk”, had bought to “brighten the place”.
In his haste to escape with the loot during the early hours of yesterday morning the suspect reportedly spilled the paint. Traces of it were left on Russell Street and when the suspect was arrested police discovered splatters of blue paint on his body.
When Stabroek News visited the Charlestown, Georgetown location shortly after 11 am yesterday relatives and friends were with the 68-year-old widow. Pointing to the door which connects her ground floor living room to the shop, Lancaster explained that the men had broken the two padlocks that secured it.
Tears begin to trickle down her cheeks as she gestured to the now half-empty shelves in the small shop. Blackman, she explained, had operated the small business and it was from this that they got a large part of their income.
“Look, look,” Lancaster said between tears, “this shelf de full of corn beef and they gone with all…two case of soap and a case of oil and a whole set of things they gone with. They pick out de expensive things them in the shop and go away with it.”
Relatives, Lancaster said, had given her $200,000 hours after her husband
was killed. The money, the distressed woman explained, was to be used to take care of the wake for her husband and to help with the funeral expenses.
“I lock the money in the wardrobe and when I come home and realize that somebody break in the place then I went and check and I found that missing and other money I had there de gone too,” Lancaster said her sobs starting up again.
A quantity of gold jewellery which the woman also kept locked in her wardrobe was also discovered missing along with clothes and a number of household items including a pump. The woman said that the total value of the things which were stolen is about $1 million.
Hours before, Lancaster said, she’d watched as a distant relative chop her husband to death. The grief, she explained, has not fully hit her and now she has to worry about all the things that were stolen from her house.
“Being a widow na easy for nobody. Nothing na easy in this country…imagine is just yesterday [Tuesday] that man murder my husband and now today these people don’t have no heart they break in my place and put me in more distress,” Lancaster said.
It was the window to her second floor bedroom, Sharon McCammon told Stabroek News, that the thieves used to enter the Russell and Howes streets home.
McCammon, who was at work when the chopping occurred on Tuesday morning, said she, like her mother, was unwilling to sleep in their house that night. It was McCammon who discovered that the house had been broken into.
“Early this morning [yesterday] when I come over and I open the front door I notice right away that the shop door de break open,” the woman told this newspaper.
Later, when she went to the second floor where the bedrooms were located she discovered that hers had been ransacked. Further investigation, McCammon said, revealed that $41,000 in cash had gone missing and the thieves also took some of her clothing.
“You can tell that they spend a long time in the house because they pick out the clothes they like,” McCammon said. “And the house was left in darkness so they must be come with their own light too.”
Out in the yard McCammon showed this newspaper a wooden post at the side of the house, close to her bedroom window which she believes the suspects used to enter the house.
A pair of slippers was also left near the post.
“Is a lil after I find the house ransacked a resident tell me that they see [name of suspect] walking from the house with a set of things on him…so I went with the police to his house and after we ask him some question they arrest he,” McCammon said.