Businessman admits to killing wife

-setting her alight and burying her in shallow grave

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

Businessman Ryan Sugrim has confessed to killing his wife, Zaila Sugrim, whose decomposed body was found in a shallow grave next door to his La Union, West Coast Demerara property on Tuesday afternoon, days after she was reported missing.

This was confirmed by police spokesman Jairam Ramlakhan, who in a press release yesterday said, “The victim’s estranged husband, who is in police custody, has since admitted to have committed the gruesome act and is cooperating with investigators.”

Acting on information received on Tuesday, Commander of ‘D’ Division, Edmond Cooper, said the police went to the La Union location, where they found a shallow grave, with what was suspected to be the remains of a human.

Police unearthed the badly decomposed and burnt remains suspected to be Zaila’s, buried in the shallow grave located next door to the suspect’s house, on a piece of land which was being used to farm.

Cooper confirmed that the suspect, during interrogation, related to investigators that he shot Zaila, set her alight and then buried her remains.

An autopsy yesterday showed that Zaila died as a result of a gunshot injury to the head.

It is suspected that the 36-year-old woman was shot whilst in the car of the suspect. Persons residing around the suspect’s house recalled noticing a fire near his residence on Saturday afternoon. They said they alerted him to the fire, after which he quickly put it out.

Days later, they learnt that it was Zaila’s remains that were being burnt.

It has also been confirmed that the businessman is a licensed firearm holder.

The police are already in possession of a firearm suspected to be the one used to shoot Zaila. Cooper informed Stabroek News that the suspect lodged his firearm at the Tactical Services Unit  before Zaila’s body was found.

Cooper had previously related to reporters that ranks at the Diamond Police Station on Sunday received a report that Zaila was missing.

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

Relatives had 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, had explained that she understood that Zaila journeyed to Vreed-en-Hoop, where she 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, ‘Okay, 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 had said.

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

Several efforts made to contact Zaila subsequently proved futile. It was then that relatives sensed something was amiss and a report was made to the police.

Zaila’s brother, Ahmad Haniff, previously related to this newspaper 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 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.

The couple were in an abusive relationship for some 15 years. During this period, Zaila’s relatives said she left on several occasions but would return because of her children.

About a year ago, the suspect allegedly attacked and injured the woman, leaving her hospitalised.

Several months ago, Zaila left the relationship and moved to Haniff’s house in Diamond, East Bank Demerara.

Haniff said she distanced herself from the suspect for a while and eventually established contact with him again. They eventually reconciled, but this was short-lived, as less than two weeks later, she moved out again.

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.

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