Crane mother of five believed murdered

-husband in custody

Zaila Sugrim and her husband, Ryan Sugrim in happier times.

Decomposed remains suspected to be those of a mother of five who was reported missing several days ago were yesterday afternoon found buried in a shallow grave next door to her husband’s Crane, West Coast Demerara home and he has been taken into custody.

Police Divisional Commander Edmond Cooper yesterday told reporters that ranks at the Diamond Police Station on Sunday received a report that Zaila Nesha Sugrim, 37, was missing.

Zaila Sugrim

“Based on a missing person report received, the police carried out investigations and activated the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP’s),” Cooper said.

Acting on information received yesterday, Cooper said the police went to the Crane location where they found a shallow grave with what is suspected to be the remains of a human.

The remains were found buried on an empty plot of land situated next door to the suspect’s house. The suspect operates a gas station in front of his house.

 “We are working on all leads because we are very proactive in our investigation”, Cooper added.

He confirmed that the suspect, who has been identified as Ryan Sugrim, a businessman, was taken into custody and is assisting the police with investigations.

While the events leading up to Zaila’s demise remain unclear, Stabroek News understands that the police are in possession of critical evidence including surveillance footage linking the suspect to the case.

The empty piece of land next to the suspect’s house where Zaila’s suspected remains were found.

Information reaching this newspaper, revealed that Zaila was last seen alive on Saturday afternoon at Vreed-en-Hoop when she boarded a car. 

Never turned up

Relatives related to this newspaper that Zaila informed them that she was going to visit one of her five children, whose birthday was on Saturday. However, she never turned up.

Tricia Watson, Zaila’s sister explained to Stabroek News that Zaila slept over at her place on Friday night in Herstelling, East Bank Demerara. “…..And she said it’s her son’s birthday and she is going to go over to see if she is going to get to meet with her son,” Watson said.

A section of the crowd that gathered at the scene yesterday.

She said although she and three other relatives insisted that Zaila not go, she still went. “….But she said because her son and everybody is at home (the suspect) won’t do her anything,” Watson added.

Watson related that Zaila had arranged to meet up with a niece in Georgetown but the niece was unwell and cancelled at the last minute. “And so she (Zaila) came over (to Vreed-en-Hoop). I don’t know if she took the boat or a bus and she met another relative in the vicinity of Lucky Dollar and she told the relative that Ryan said that he is going to pick her up and take her home so she is going to surprise the son,’” Watson noted.

She said she understood that Zaila was with a relative and she subsequently left after the suspect arrived to pick her up. “….Ryan maybe called her to say that he is there, she left and she said ‘ok, I am going. Ryan is by the bank. He said he is not going to pick me up at Payless. He is going to pick me up at the bank’ and that’s the last,” Watson said.

Watson said after Zaila didn’t return home, relatives assumed she was spending the night since the following day was Mother’s Day.

 “She never turned up there, so I don’t know what he did….because Sunday was Mother’s Day so we thought she was staying but then Sunday we wanted to invite her to go to church with us because it is the first time that she is actually being with us since after she married him,” Tricia further related.

Zaila’s sister, Tricia Watson (left) being consoled by MP and attorney Priya Manickchand.

She said several efforts made to contact Zaila prove futile. “Facebook, Whatsapp, calls nothing. So my brother (Haniff) was talking to the husband, he would keep some sort of communication. So he called, the children them said they didn’t see her, she didn’t come,” she said.

Watson said it was at this point, that relatives sensed something was amiss. “Sunday we thought if she is not here and she is not answering then we should make a report,” she said.

She further noted that after the report was made, the police searched a house where the suspect had allegedly taken Zaila in the past and attacked her but they came up empty-handed.

 Suspicious behaviour

Zaila’s brother, Ahmad Haniff yesterday related to Stabroek News that after days elapsed with no signs of his sister, he suspected she was dead.

He said he was even more convinced, after he spoke to her children and they related the suspicious behaviour of their father since Saturday afternoon.

Haniff said that the children related to him that the suspect returned home on Saturday afternoon and he was seen hurriedly washing out his car.

He also reportedly deleted a specific period from surveillance footage which monitors his business before anyone could have accessed it. Blood stains and mud were also visible in his car trunk.

He added that the children said that the suspect was washing his car on Saturday afternoon, which is not customary since he would take the car to the wash bay. “….And he hustle wash out it. Which in, he never wash car, he does normally carry he car wash bay and thing,” Haniff said.

Haniff related that when he learnt that Zaila was missing, he contacted the suspect. “Me does normally mek contact with he (suspect) steady. So he tell me that, me sista neva went deh,” Haniff noted.

He said he also learnt from the children that Zaila spent all day last Thursday at the suspect’s house. “…..Me get fah know Thursday (last) me sista went ova deh and she spend time ova deh because the big son tell me that she went ova Thursday and when he come home from school he see she deh,” Haniff said.

He said he understood that it was during this visit that she and the suspect made arrangements for her to return on Saturday for their son’s birthday.

Abusive relationship

Haniff further explained that the couple shared an abusive relationship. About a year ago, the suspect allegedly attacked and injured Sugrim leaving her hospitalized.

Haniff said the suspect was charged with attempted murder which was later reduced to a lesser count of assault. “Nothing ain’t come out ah dah, because she went and beg fah he saying she gone give he another chance,” Haniff added.

He related that Zaila decided to leave the relationship several months ago and moved to his house in Diamond, East Bank Demerara.  “She was in the house, lock up fah fifteen years. Can’t talk to nobody, Brother, mother. She mother tek in and deh hospital, when me brother went deh, he run meh brother out and cuss he. Meh mother end up pass away and thing, and meh brother go back deh fah tell he, he call police,” the grieving brother said.

He added that Zaila was unable to visit her mother in hospital or even attend her funeral. “Couple months after, she get away from he. Somehow or the other, me ain’t know how she get to get away from he and she come way by me,” Haniff said.

He further explained that Zaila distanced herself from the suspect for a while and eventually established contact with him again. “…..Maybe she must be decide, she want see she children them and suh. She start mek back contact with he. Them two start courting back like love pair and she tell me just suh ‘Ahmad ah want guh back with he because he seh he gone change, he nah guh beat me, he guh allow me fah talk to ayo and call ayo and suh’. Meh seh ok, is your choice, yuh big enough,” Haniff recalled.

He said Zaila reconciled with the suspect.  “When she went back and live with he, she just live a week or a week and a half. She neva come back in dah week or week and a half. Me use to go ova and see she and thing and she keep telling me, leh me nah rent out the house. Leh me keep the house because he still ah behave stupid”, Haniff said.

He said it had not even been a week before his sister returned to his house.

Ryan and Zaila Sugrim shared five children. Following their separation, the suspect was reportedly given full custody of the children by Zaila who agreed to meet with them only on weekends.

This decision, this newspaper understands was made by Zaila following last year’s attack.

Kept going back

Reports are that the couple lived together for about fifteen years and shared an abusive relationship.

On several occasions, relatives said the suspect would abuse Zaila but she would return because of her children.

 “She try all the time because of her children. Dah she always tell me because of her children. He does beat she, he does treat her bad like he jealous of her. Alright, you don’t want her…leave her alone let her live her life nah”, Zaila’s sister-in-law, Cindy (only name given) said.

Haniff explained that he and other family members spoke to Sugrim on several occasion but she kept going back. “Me speak to her, aunty, uncle, friend, family, everybody talk to she……but she run back steady….she got to go back. If two, three day pass, she got to guh back, she got to call he, she got to run back to he,” Haniff said.

At the scene yesterday, scores of persons gathered as the news of the remains circulated. At one point Haniff fainted and had to be rushed to the hospital.

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