Murdered teacher laid to rest

Kessandra Blackman, Kescia Barnche’s twin sister, being comforted as she held on to a portrait of her murdered sibling, who was laid to rest yesterday. (Photo by Keno George)

Family, friends and well-wishers turned out in their numbers to say their final goodbyes to murdered school teacher Kescia Branche, who was laid to rest yesterday afternoon.

The viewing of her body was held at the Lyken Funeral Home followed by a home-going service at the Guyana Teachers’ Union (GTU) Hall on Woolford Avenue. Her remains were subsequently interred in Buxton, East Coast Demerara. At the service, the tributes were mostly in the form of poetry and song and were done by persons from various aspects of Branche’s life, including the local theatre fraternity, the GTU and staff and students of the Richard Ishmael Secondary School, where she taught.

“Kescia, I am sure if she had a choice, would have chosen to continue living…but even though she spent a short time on this earth, she would have made an impact; she mothered, she molded, she nurtured, she befriended and her huge personality and her performances on stage can in no way be measured by the little frame that held this person together. We will miss her terribly,” a representative of the theatre fraternity said.

“The teaching fraternity mourns the loss of a resolute individual in education. We salute her sterling contributions made in the delivery of the curriculum to the many students she impacted…,” the representative from the GTU added.

Persons were also moved to tears by the eulogy, which was delivered by her younger sister, Kereece Branche, who described the school teacher as being “too strong for her own good,” as she reflected on her sister’s determination to accomplish everything she set out to do.

“Kescia deserves an Oscar because she gave the performance of her life. Her death was legendary and that is as dramatic as it can get; Kescia has engraved her name on our hearts and has left it broken…,” Kereece shared as she reflected on her sister’s love for acting.

Today will mark two weeks since Kescia Branche, 22, was found unconscious along Cemetery Road, obliquely opposite the cemetery office, in Georgetown. She succumbed to her injuries on November 7th in the Intensive Care Unit of the Georgetown Public Hospital.

Three suspects, including two police constables, who were deemed “persons of interest” in her death, were held and then released. The third suspect, who is Branche’s former partner and the father of her child, was taken into custody after being found with the slain teacher’s cell phone. While the two constables were placed on open arrest after their detention period expired, he was released on station bail.

Sources had told Stabroek News that investigators appear to be unsure as to where they are now heading with the probe.

A car, PMM 242, was also impounded but investigators are yet to apprehend the owner, who is suspected to have had contact with Branche before she was found unconscious. This newspaper was previously told that the owner of the car fled the country the day after Branche’s body was discovered.

Branche had sustained head injuries and a broken foot. The doctor who treated her told her family that the head injuries which appeared to be consistent with blows to the head. A post-mortem examination revealed that she died as a result of brain haemorrhaging and blunt trauma to the head. Branche was seen leaving the Blue Martini nightclub on Upper Lamaha Street in Newtown on the night of November 4th in the company of the two on-duty constables. After leaving the nightclub, the trio had ventured to a barbeque spot on Mandela Avenue.

While waiting on their order, one of the constables reportedly told investigators that he left to use the washroom and when he returned he did not see Branche. When he asked his colleague, who had remained with her, about her whereabouts, he was told that she had left with a taxi.

A male who was seen with Branche in the nightclub and another who was accused of last being in contact with her, based on phone records, were detained for questioning but they were also released.