Father believes girl found murdered in cemetery was victim of robbery

Rainella Benfield

The father of Rainella Benfield, the girl found murdered in a cemetery, is convinced that she was a victim of an armed robbery who was more than likely killed after resisting her attacker/s.

“My daughter was only 17-years-old, she hasn’t lived her life yet. She was robbed of her whole future and she was even robbed of the opportunity of having life beyond her own and I am very hurt and angry about it”, Rainsford Benfield yesterday told Stabroek News.

“I am just praying to God every day that my anger does not turn into rage because for me justice will not be served unless they (the perpetrator/s) experience the same thing that they put my daughter through”, he added.

The body of Rainella, a telephone operator of Qualfon’s Goedverwagting call centre and of Lot 99 Canterbury Walk, Beterverwagting (BV), East Coast Demerara was on Monday morning discovered in a cemetery at Triumph.

Rainsford Benfield

At the time, her body was face up between two tombs in the cemetery, which is located on the eastern side of the Beterverwagting Police Station. Her hands were on her stomach and her pants were pulled below her hips. Her face appeared to have been smashed in.

An autopsy revealed that that she died as a result of crushing injuries to her face which were inflicted by a blunt object. The report, also indicated that she was alive when the injuries were inflicted and that she was not raped.

Marks on Benfield’s skin were consistent with sun burns, the autopsy revealed.

Speaking to Stabroek News from his BV home, where he was making preparations for his daughter’s wake, a teary-eyed Rainsford recalled the last conversation he had with Rainella.

“I came home like 7.30 (Friday night) because I work in the nights and I went into bed and on Saturday morning she (Rainella) wake me up to say that she is going to work and I turn to she and seh `man duh is wuh yuh wake me up fuh’ and she turn and and seh ‘big man I can’t wake you up, you is meh faddah’ and that was the last”, he said.

Rainsford said his daughter’s shift would usually end at 5 pm and after she did not return home as of late Saturday evening they did not become worried since she had told them before leaving home that she would be going over to a cousin’s house in Plaisance after work.

It wasn’t until Sunday morning her family became worried and tried to get in touch with her. Several calls to her cell phone went straight to voicemail. “When we started to call, her phone went straight to voicemail and this is not normally her, she woulda find some way to get in contact with us”, Rainsford said.

He said they then began to contact a few of her friends who either said that they had seen Rainella or talked to her during Saturday. “One person said the last time they spoke to her was about 6.30 (Saturday evening) and she said she was in a bus on her way home”, he said.

This, he said, matched what others said that Rainella disembarked a bus at 6.45pm at the public road and was seen walking towards home.

Rainsford said at her workplace, persons recalled seeing Rainella leaving the compound around 5.10 pm on Saturday after which she boarded a bus heading for the East Coast. “…But I assumed that she would have stopped off at Plaisance to go to the cousin after which she continued her journey and was walking in the road to come home when whatever happen, happened”, he said.

After the family came up empty-handed on Sunday, they ventured out early Monday morning in search of Rainella. Rainsford said her sister left home early Monday morning to go to Qualfon to gather some information while her mother left for town to enquire from friends.

During this time, he said the police showed up at his house informing him of the discovery. “The police come and tell me that they found a body which they believe to be Rainella Benfield because they have also found her passport”, he said.

Her cell phone and between $3000 to $5000 she had in her possession were also missing. “That is what her life is worth a phone and not even five but three grand?”, Rainsford lamented.

He said he was taken to the spot to identify the remains. “Upon seeing my daughter I collapsed and I had to be taken to the clinic and about three hours after then I voluntarily went to the station”, he said.

He explained that the BV main road which separates the burial ground from the police station is usually lonely. “…but one of the things I could have said for sure is that she was more afraid of Canterbury Walk road than the Main Road, she was more comfortable walking on the Main Road”, he said.

Rainsford said there have always been claims of gangs of between four to seven persons operating on that same road and who would normally steal from people. “..But we have never experienced a murder until now. They have never gone that far, until now”, he said.

He also said that following the discovery of her body, he was told that persons in the area heard screams coming from the burial ground between 7.30-8pm but no one paid any mind or at least contacted the police.

Five persons including Benfield’s boyfriend were arrested and taken into custody shortly after her body was found. They had reportedly provided the police with conflicting reports.

As the investigation continues, the police were on Thursday granted an additional 72 hours to further detain the suspects. The extension will expire today.

Investigators are of the belief that Rainella might have known her attacker/s. One of the suspects has visible scratches  about his body which are consistent with a scuffle.

DNA samples were taken from Rainella’s remains and will be sent for testing.

Rainella graduated from high school three weeks prior to her death and started working at Qualfon in order to raise funds to further her studies, her father said. “She didn’t do too well in Maths so she tell us that she will work to raise some money and she will do back Maths and Physics and she will go to UG”, Rainsford noted.

She will be laid to rest on Wednesday.

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