Yesterday marked an emotional morning on the East Bank Berbice as relatives, friends and the community said their goodbyes to 13-year-old Leonard Archibald who was murdered after leaving home to collect his sisters from a birthday party.
The suspects – including one who has been accused of a series of sexual offences – remain in police custody.
The funeral service was held at Archibald’s residence in Brothers Village. The main road opposite Archibald’s house was filled with cars as persons turned out in their numbers to remember and pay their finally respects to the Overwinning Primary School student.
Students and teachers from the Overwinning Primary School were also present in their numbers, along with Regional Edu-cation Officer, Region Six, Volika Jaikishun; Regional Chairman, Region Six, David Armogan and other officials along with members of the police force.
President David Granger in a statement yesterday said that he is “deeply saddened” to learn of the death of the 13-year-old. He extended condolences to the boy’s family and friends.
Armogan, during his brief address to the gathering, said that the murder “has sent shock waves around this village, surrounding areas and our country”, adding “our region should not be known for these types of things, it should be a peaceful region where people are free to walk around as they like”.
He said that if some sort of action was taken before against the accused maybe the life of young Archibald could have been saved. “Not only the police at fault but the neighbourhood and all other persons who should be responsible persons in our community, we all need to take blame for what has happened”.
The police have been pressed to state what steps they took when reports were made to them by other persons in relation to the suspect.
Armogan said that persons need to stand up against such acts and “take their community back and make it a place they want to live…We must not forget our responsibility, we need to mobilize and take back our community against rogue elements”. He said that while looking at child abuse and domestic violence, attention must also be paid to drug abuse and other social ills. “We got to know what is causing these and go to the root of the problem, that is where we need to focus”, he opined.
Armogan on behalf of the region offered his condolences to Archibald’s loved ones.
Jaikishun used the opportunity to plead with parents to “do whatever (you) can to protect your children”. She encouraged those gathered to speak out against abusers and attackers in their respective areas. She said, “Don’t try to cover up the story or take settlement, act and bring the perpetrators to justice”.
Archibald’s mother, Abigail Archibald sat quietly on a bench during the funeral service. His father, Walter Archibald also did the same and kept busy ensuring the funeral went as smoothly as possible.
The two suspects who were arrested for the gruesome crime have still not been placed before the court. Stabroek News was told that the men were expected to appear in the New Amsterdam Magistrate’s Court on Monday, however, while some advice was given, the legal adviser sought clarity on some other matters, hence a further investigation was needed.
Yesterday afternoon, a source close to the investigation told this newspaper that the case file has since been sent back for advice to institute the necessary charges.
On September 17, Archibald disappeared after he left home to pick up two of his sisters from a birthday party in a nearby village. He was last spotted riding a bicycle on the Sisters Village Public Road. After a police report was filed, investigators placed two men from Sisters Village into custody: the prime suspect, Hillary Edwards and his friend, Nicholas Christopher, whose house he (Edwards) would usually hang out at and which is located some four houses away from the Sisters Police Station.
On Friday last during a search, the missing teen’s bicycle was discovered in the Berbice River behind Christopher’s house. It was later on Friday afternoon that investigators elicited a confession from one of the accused. Police were told that Edwards allegedly kidnapped the teen and raped him, after which he dumped his body behind Christopher’s house into the Berbice River. After the alleged confession became public knowledge, relatives of the boy and residents of the East Bank Berbice area were determined to recover the child’s body.
It was during the last search on Saturday afternoon that Archibald’s decomposed body was found on a mudflat located at the back of Kortberaad Village, in the Berbice River. This is some three miles from Brothers Village, East Bank Berbice, where the teen lived.
Archibald was said to have been a willing young man, He was the sixth of ten children.