A trainee teacher stabbed to death and dumped on a dam in Harlem, West Coast Demerara; a nursery school teacher brutally knifed. These two murders which bear striking similarities occurred more than a year apart and police investigators are still to find the killers.
Early on in both investigations, police had identified the suspects and had issued wanted bulletins. However, these have not yielded the desired results.
Unlike the case of the killing of trainee teacher Luciana Bhagwandin, investigators have firmly concluded that nursery teacher Natalie Loncke was killed after she decided to leave her lover.
Speaking to Stabroek News recently on the Bhagwandin case, Crime Chief Seelall Persaud said it has been established that the Essequibo resident – who was staying with relatives at Cummings Lodge at the time of her death – and the suspect were involved in a relationship.
But he said that up to now the police do not know who the man is and even though a wanted bulletin was issued, there has been no response. Persaud later noted that the man turned out not to be what he had presented himself as to the woman’s relatives.
Despite the fact that so much time has elapsed, the Crime Chief stressed that the case is still open.
The badly stabbed body of the 22-year-Cyril Potter College of Education student was discovered on Back Street, Harlem, West Coast Demerara on January 10, 2010 and it was identified by relatives two days later.
A post-mortem examination performed on Bhagwandin’s body by Dr Nehaul Singh found that the cause of death was haemorrhage and shock due to stab wounds.
Subsequently police said that they were looking for the woman’s boyfriend whose name was given as Jerry Jhagroo, and who drives a black car.
According to a wanted bulletin, Jhagroo has a friend named Mark who owns a blue Toyota 212 Carina motor car in which the deceased was last seen.
Several persons including a taxi-driver whose car was found in the area where Bhagwandin’s body was dumped were held for questioning but were subsequently released.
The woman’s mother had told Stabroek News that her daughter was kidnapped and then murdered before lamenting that the police failed to act when the first report was made. Bhagwandin had also been threatened by a man whose advances she had rejected, the mother had said, declining to have her name published.
The grieving mother was very upset with police officers at the Turkeyen Police Outpost as they had reportedly told relatives of the young woman to return to the station in 48 hours to report her missing.
Based on the information she had gathered, her daughter was making her way back to her relative’s Turkeyen home from the supermarket on January 9 last in company of a younger female cousin when a blue car stopped and a man dragged her in.
The mother had said that the cousin did not know the man. This happened a street away from where she was staying.
Bhagwandin’s brutalized body was found the following day. The woman had separated from her husband of five years about one month before she was killed.
The motive for her killing still remains unclear and while her family is hoping for justice, without the ‘boyfriend’ the case may never be solved. Police have been unable to put a face to the name that they have and this has complicated matters for investigators.
Loncke, a 41-year-old mother of two, was killed after a domestic row turned violent on February 12, 2011. The attacker, her partner of just a few months, fled moments after stabbing her twice in the head, reportedly riding a bicycle to the overgrown Le Repentir cemetery. He left the Norton Street house with a bloody knife in his hand.
There are suspicions that the man might have fled the area for Linden where he has relatives.
The Crime Chief told Stabroek News that the suspect, Hubert Pilgrim, for whom a wanted bulletin was issued, remains at large.
He said the police had not received any feedback from the public, before emphasising that the police are “still working” to find him.
Pilgrim, after stabbing the woman in the head, hid in the cemetery and even managed to elude a police dragnet. Ranks, this newspaper had been told, turned up in the area one night and managed to arrest a young man who was reportedly taking food for the wanted man.
Persons close to the woman have expressed surprise that more wasn’t done to find Pilgrim, who at one time dug graves in the very cemetery he was hiding in. After committing the act, this newspaper was told, he contacted relatives and friends and admitted what he had done.
This newspaper was also told that he had a history of abusing women and had even been incarcerated for this.
A neighbour had reported that she heard the couple arguing and some time later heard a sound coming from the house.
The woman had recalled hearing Pilgrim say ‘yuh juk me pun me lip,’ adding that Loncke’s elder daughter, Renata Craig, was at home at the time of the attack and tried to intervene.
Craig was however attacked by the man who hit her on the side of her face with a piece of iron. Craig later ran out of the house crying.