Seven weeks after they stormed out of the Camp Street Prison during a carefully planned escape, high profile prisoners Mark Royden Williams and Uree Varswyk are still on the loose and though little has been released about their possible whereabouts, law enforcement officials are adamant that they are still in Guyana.
Given their backgrounds as well as the amount of time that has elapsed, some observers have concluded that the men might have managed to flee through the porous border with Suriname, and could possibly still be there or in French Guiana.
However, a senior security official told Sunday Stabroek that the security forces are “certain” the men are still in Guyana but did not want to elaborate. If they are still here, it would raise questions about their intentions and why they haven’t yet been recaptured.
But for a security source, who asked not to be named, it comes as no surprise that Williams and Varswyk have kept a low profile. “You gotta remember that Williams know them backlands and Varswyk was a ole police, so them boys know how to stay low and where to hide”, the source said, while adding that the possibility exists that the duo might be moving together.
“The police saying that everybody moving separate but when you think of it, Williams and the other guy would form a good team. It would make sense for them to stay together. Pool all their sources together so as to lessen their chances of getting caught,” the source said.
“Williams is a dangerous man …he was trained to be that way and he must be caught. Varswyk is equally dangerous,” the source said.
The source said that the men may also have access to resources and the fact that they have remained hidden is a confirmation that they are getting assistance. “Let’s look at that one who get ketch in Berbice. How did he get there? How was he eating? How he get clothes? Who was looking after his wound? He clearly had help,” the source said.
Following the July 9 escape of the two along with four others, the police contacted their counterparts in both Suriname and French Guiana. One of the escapees was later captured in the Berbice area and it is suspected that he was planning to head to the border and use the back track route to enter Suriname.
Sunday Stabroek was unable to ascertain the level of support that Guyanese law enforcers are getting from their colleagues in Suriname and French Guiana.
Williams is believed to be the mastermind of the breakout and based on eyewitness accounts, Varswyk played a major role. It was revealed by Director of Prisons (ag) Gladwin Samuels at a press conference that based on eyewitness accounts it was Varswyk who shot and killed prison guard Odinga Wickham. Wickam, who was shot several times to the chest, succumbed at the Georgetown Public Hospital the same evening.
Varswyk was also identified as the person who shot and wounded three other prison officers: Jason Maltay, Drexel Gonsalves and another only identified as Liverpool.
Samuels explained that all four prison officials gave the same account of being shot by Varswyk.
Maltay, 20, and another officer, Hubert Trim, 39, were ambushed in the administrative building. While Maltay was shot once in his right leg, Trim was beaten, and chopped several times about his body and thrown through a window.
The others who were injured were 25-year-old Gonsalves, who was shot in his right hand; 20-year-old Dominic Mingo, who suffered injuries to both legs after he reportedly jumped from a rail in a bid to save his life; 30-year-old Errol Daphness and 19-year-old Simeon Sandy.
Williams, who had previously attempted to escape lawful custody, was in February of this year sentenced to death after being convicted on seven of the twelve counts of murder in the February 17, 2008 Bartica massacre.
Varswyk, a former Tactical Services Unit trainer, was last year committed to stand trial for the murder of Sterling Products Ltd security guard Wilfred Stewart, who was shot multiple times during a foiled robbery at the company’s Providence, East Bank Demerara establishment.
Apart from the two men, the authorities have also been unable to recapture drug trafficking accused Cobena Stephens. The other three escapees—Stafrei Alexander also known as “Anthony Williams” and “Ratty,” murder accused Desmond James and drug trafficking Cornelius Thomas—were captured.
Alexander was cornered at Topoo Village, at Topoo Village, Corentyne on the night of July 29 and surrendered peacefully.
At the time, he was nursing a gunshot wound which may have been sustained during a previous encounter with law enforcement officials in the Port Mourant, Corentyne Area.
James was captured at minutes to midnight on July 14, in an unfinished shack on an access dam at Canal Number One Polder, West Bank Demerara. Thomas was arrested in ‘C’ Field South Sophia on July 17.
Police Commissioner Seelall Persaud had said days after the escape that based on the accounts of taxi driver Matthew Shivtahal, who was reportedly abducted by escapees outside the prison and later released, the men are believed to be somewhere in the East Coast backlands.
Police have announced a reward of $10 million for information leading to the arrest of the three men as well as Paul Goriah, who escaped from a Lusignan Prison holding area.