(Jamaica Observer) National Security Minister Dr Horace Chang yesterday condemned the murders of returning residents Karen Cleary-Brown and Barbara Findley and said that the Government and his ministry remain steadfast in their mandate to serve and protect all citizens.
Chang, in the statement sent to the media, called the murders “wicked and un-Jamaican”.
He extended condolence to the families and friends of the victims, while noting that the “horrific acts of violence” against citizens are reprehensible.
“It is even more troubling that, in most cases, these killings are a result of domestic disputes between the victims and persons well known to them. It is irresponsible to suggest that these killings are a result of targeted attacks on our returning Jamaicans. The police reports indicate, instead, that several of the murders are committed by men who have endeared themselves to the victims,” the minister said.
He was referring to a statement reportedly made by head of the Jamaica Association for the Resettlement of Returning Residents, Percival LaTouche, which urged Jamaicans overseas not to return home.
“We have confirmed the loss of 11 returning Jamaicans over the course of this year. It is to the credit of our police officers that all of the accused have been apprehended. We call on persons with information concerning any murder to tell the police or call Crime Stop and share what you know,” Chang said.
Also yesterday, Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister Senator Kamina Johnson Smith reaffirmed the Government’s efforts to provide a safe place for all Jamaicans, following recent murders.
Johnson Smith and the minister of state in the ministry, Pearnel Charles Jr, said they were deeply saddened by the reports, expressed their “heartfelt sympathy” to all the families affected, and advised that investigations into the killings are ongoing.
Charles Jr said the police high command is working assiduously to bring the perpetrators to justice, adding that he and Johnson Smith expect a complete investigation of these matters. He also urged all citizens with information to contact the police.
“I want to reassure the people of Jamaica that the Government remains steadfast in its commitment to fighting the scourge of crime that affects every aspect of our society. We continue to take a multifaceted approach to crime-fighting in making Jamaica a safe place for all,” the junior minister said.
He added that given the unique vulnerabilities of returning residents, the ministry has been working collaboratively with critical stakeholders in providing information, support and guidance to the returning residents community.
The body of 43-year-old Karen Cleary-Brown was discovered with stab wounds in a shallow grave in Boscobel, St Mary, on Monday.
Cleary-Brown had reportedly returned to the island — after spending close to 30 years in England — to build her dream home in the parish when she met her demise.
The decomposing body of 48-year-old Barbara Findley was discovered close to Providence Housing Scheme in Santa Cruz on Wednesday after residents detected a foul smell in bushes close to the entrance of the housing scheme about 1:00 pm.
Findley was reported missing last week.
In April, the Jamaica Observer reported that the body of 63-year-old Delroy Walker was found with multiple stab wounds at the house he purchased at Rio Nuevo Resort in Tower Isle, St Mary.
Police told the Observer then that a resident noticed a trail of blood leading from the house about 9:15 am on April 19 and raised an alarm. Walker had returned to the country from London eight months prior and his wife was expected to join him in a matter of weeks.
Three months later, the brazen murder of a couple sent shock waves throughout the quiet farming community of Mount Pleasant in Portland, leaving some to speculate about the motive for the killings.
Florence and Halford Anderson, who had returned to Jamaica from England, were both found dead on the morning of June 22. Residents discovered Halford’s body near Mount Pleasant Primary School under a tree and Florence’s in their fire-bombed home with gunshot wounds to the upper body.
The couple, who had been married for more than 50 years, and who had just returned to the island, was building their retirement home.
The murders caused the JCF to issue a statement outlining steps to be taken to protect returnees. The JCF said that some of the measures which were to be taken would include the establishment of a point of contact for the Diaspora to address specific concerns about cases.
The JCF said that consideration was being given to the establishment of a service to conduct background checks, on request, of people who returnees wish to employ.
A liaison officer would also be appointed, the JCF said, in each police division to monitor and provide returnees with timely feedback on policing matters. A proposal for regular meetings to be held at the divisional level to enhance the sharing of important information was also put forward.
The police said this was to be augmented with a number of investigative strategies that will pay particular attention to cases involving returnees.
“Our focus on the safety and protection of our returning residents is unequivocal. We take all reported incidents of crimes against them seriously and will further our work with our partners in Government and non-government organisations to ensure communities are safe spaces for all who live, work or visit,” Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of Crime Selvin Haye said at the time.
In the meantime, Chang said that the security ministry has increased deployment of the security forces for the festive season “to continue to reduce crimes, especially homicides”.
Said Chang: “We are, on one hand, satisfied that the homicide rate is heading in the right direction, with a 21 per cent decrease in murders. But, on the other hand we cannot, and must not as a nation, accept these occurrences as a norm. Let us, this holiday season, return to being each other’s keeper.”