US missionaries murdered in Jamaica

(Jamaica Observer) Police Commissioner Dr Carl Williams on Monday disclosed that Jamaica is receiving help from the United States to track down the killers of two American missionaries whose bodies were found in a remote part of Boscobel, St Mary, between Saturday and Sunday.

Randy Hentzel (left) and Harold Nichols
Randy Hentzel (left) and Harold Nichols

Police report that 48-year-old Randy Hentzel and 53-year-old Harold Nichols rented motorcycles in Ocho Rios, St Ann, and went on a trail on Saturday. Residents later stumbled upon Hentzel’s body after 12:00 pm, face down with the hands bound. Nichols’ body was found sometime after 2:00 pm on Sunday with his head bashed in.

“A high-level investigation has been launched into this matter. Residents have pledged to co-operate fully with the authorities to ensure the perpetrators of this atrocious crime are sought and prosecuted,” Commissioner Williams told journalists on Monday during a hastily called press conference at his office, adding that “expert” investigators have been assigned to the case.

While Williams did not state specifically who the expert investigators were, Joshua Polacheck, the counselor for public affairs at the US Embassy in Kingston, told the Jamaica Observer on Monday night that they would likely be law enforcement officers from multiple US agencies in Jamaica, among them the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the US Marshals Service; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

At his press conference, the police commissioner said that investigators were still ascertaining the basic facts of the case. “Our investigators are on the ground doing their canvassing as we speak…,” he added.

The commissioner said that, while no motive has been established for the killings, he is assuring the nation and the international community that the perpetrators will be brought to justice.

“Yesterday, I called the United States ambassador to Jamaica to update him on the investigation and to assure him that we are doing everything possible to identify the criminals responsible for these brutal acts,” said Williams.

“…We know that the nation has high expectations of the police and we are doing everything possible to solve this case and all the other cases of murder that we are investigating right now,” the police chief said.

In the meantime, Williams said he was not being pressured by US authorities, even as criticisms mount from the international community over the matter.

“When I spoke to the ambassador yesterday he was very understanding of the situation that we are in, and he offered to give us help to solve this case and I accepted the help, and we will move to ensure that in whatever ways that we can avail ourselves of the help, we will,” said Williams.

As to whether the case has taken priority over local cases, Williams said: “We should do this in most cases but we can’t.

We are doing this in this particular case because I know that it is generating a lot of interest overseas.

And while we are able to handle the situation here, when it goes overseas, it’s a completely different matter. Jamaica is going to be in the spotlight and as such, I think we have a responsibility to update everyone.

It has generated a great deal more interest than would a local case and we have to respond accordingly.”

Meanwhile, yesterday the police said that the results of the autopsies done to determine the cause of death of the two missionaries showed that Hentzel died of a gunshot wound while Nichols’ body had a gunshot and chop wounds.

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