Over five years after she vanished, the police believe they have solved the 2010 disappearance of Babita Sarjou after skeletal remains were yesterday unearthed in a shallow grave at the residence of her estranged husband in Campbellville.
“So far we believe the body is that of Babita Sarjou but nevertheless for us to determine one hundred percent certainty we will need to do DNA testing,” police Crime Chief Wendell Blanhum told reporters at the Lot 51 Seaforth Street scene yesterday. He said since they already have samples from Sarjou, they would be sending those samples along with those from the remains to Trinidad this week for testing.
Blanhum said the police want the case to be dealt with in an expeditious manner. He said law enforcement is no longer treating the case as a missing person case but as a homicide. The remains were found in a shallow grave about three feet in depth at the back of the house.
Sarjou, who would have turned 34 this year, disappeared after planning to go and see the Deepavali motorcade on November 4th, 2010, with her ex-husband and their son, who is now 10 years old. The Sunday Stabroek reported yesterday that police had made a major breakthrough in the case after questioning Sarjou’s estranged husband and another man.
Sources close to the investigation told Stabroek News that police also have a confession from the husband who revealed the location of the grave. Relatives of the man said he was taken into custody on Thursday evening. It is unclear when the other man was held.
Both suspects were taken to the shallow grave yesterday with relatives informing that the ex-husband was taken there yesterday morning. The other man was taken to the site after lunch and left with police after the remains were found at around 3pm yesterday.
As he was being led out of the yard by detectives, Sarjou’s ex mother-in-law, who lives in Dennis Street, said she never saw the man before and her son’s immediate northern neighbours were vocal in saying that they did not believe he did the crime. Those neighbours are reportedly relatives of the ex-husband. They also questioned the police’s stakeout of the home Friday evening.
“I know this family for 40-something years and I don’t think is he do it,” one neighbour said.
However, another neighbour had harsh words for the man and said he witnessed that the ex-husband was very abusive to Sarjou. “She had a hard life with him and I would not put it past him. She was a prisoner in there and the only reason he got the lil boy (Sarjou’s son) was because he has money. He used to run a short time (hotel) right there”, he said.
He also recalled that shortly after Sarjou’s disappearance, her estranged husband began construction work to the home. While the body was not found on the property but between the parapet and drain at the back, the man said work at the back was done simultaneously with the construction and a different work crew from the one that Sarjou’s ex-husband would normally use, was employed for that aspect.
Sarjou’s ex-mother in law’s primary concern seemed to be the fact that the police had to remove the zinc sheet fence from the property and did not replace it. She said the property was equipped with video cameras and it will show exactly how and where the remains were found as the family has been diligently monitoring movements in the yard since her son was locked up.
She also called her son’s attorney Max McKay, who she said, asked that everyone leave the property. She then locked the gates and went upstairs, where she said the 10-year-old was.
The Caribbean American Domestic Violence Awareness (CADVA) association has been working closely with Sarjou’s family to ensure they receive justice and yesterday its Programme Director Dianne Madray rushed to the scene and was high in praise for the police though she said had they listened to her earlier, the case would have been solved.
“I am glad that we have come to this point, but unfortunately it’s a little too late with the grief and all the stuff that has to happen now…this should have been done six years ago had they listened to me when I told them to come and check this …property, this would not have come to this point so I am very angry,” she said.
“But I want to say thanks to this Crime Chief, Mr Blanhum, for working tirelessly on the case and not giving up. He has done a good job and we are grateful so Sir thank you,” she added.
Sarjou’s mother Champa Seenarine also rushed out of the Timehri home she had shared with her daughter to the scene.
However, when she arrived, the police had already left and her ex son-in-law’s mother would not open the gates to let her get a glimpse of where the remains were found or let her see her grandson.
Nonetheless, she stood on the bridge of the property and spoke, looking into the security cameras. “This is not the way Babita should have been gone. I believe that the bones are hers…I had my daughter, now she is gone. Nobody knows my feelings and it hurts me a lot. It is almost six years and I know how many mothers feel…she has a son, how would she have feel if something did go wrong with him,” Seenarine lamented.
While Seenarine praised Blanhum, she had mixed feelings for Commissioner of Police Seelall Persaud, who was Crime Chief at the time her daughter went missing. “I want to (say) thanks (to) the police for those that put out the full works with me to get justice. I want to thank the Crime Chief also for giving me peace of mind. I need closure to this case. The only way was somebody to come forward and speak out and it most tough, those who have children they know,” she told Stabroek News.
“From since this matter was in the hands of Seelall, nothing (was done). We went to the previous Crime Chief (Leslie James) and he did not take it in hand but now we have a new government in place, we have a new crime chief but the same commissioner but I don’t have no more confidence in that commissioner,” she added.
She said that she is almost sure, crediting mother’s intuition; “that gut feeling,” that the skeletal remains is that of Sarjou and looks forward to the trial of her ex-son in law.