Police in St. Vincent and the Grenadines say that they suspect a “modus operandi” after four persons were murdered, all of whom had their heads smashed in, sometime between Sunday evening and Monday morning.
Two of the victims were a mother and son pair, killed in their Old Montrose House, a stone’s throw from the official residence of Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, who is out of state, and the Old Montrose Police Station.
Deputy chief detective, Assistant Superintendent of Police, Clauston Francis, told reporters at the scene in Montrose that police have in custody a suspect in relation to at least one of the murders.
He said all four victims had “gruesome” injuries to the head.
He said that in Old Montrose, police responded to a call where the body of Ronald Israel, about 40-year-old, was found in the porch of the house where he lives with his mother –with his head smashed in.
Ronald’s mother, Avis Israel, who is around 80, was found dead in a bedroom with similar injuries.
Ms Israel is mother of Roxanne Israel, Miss Carival 1987.
Francis also confirmed that police were investigating the killing of Pamela Williams, about 50 years old, which occurred at her home in Kingstown Park, a community just outside the capital, Sunday night.
Nicolas Layne, about 30 years old, died of head injuries in the Coco area of Campden Park, a community west of Kingstown.
“They all had injuries about the head, and they are gruesome,” Francis told reporters.
He also confirmed that the police had in custody a suspect who was arrested at Williams’ home in Kingstown Park about the time she was killed.
“A gentleman was arrested during the time of Ms Williams’ death at Kingstown Park and he is presently in police custody assisting police with their investigation. He is in the mid 30s, from my information,” Francis told reporters, adding that the suspect is said to be from Sandy Bay, a community in northeastern St. Vincent.
Sources tell iWitness News that the suspect is being treated in hospital for injuries he sustained when villagers inflicted a serious beating on him.
Asked if police were working on any theories, Francis said:
“All we have at this moment is that the injuries are very similar, very gruesome and the injuries are to the heads of the victims. So we believe there is some modus operandi from those injuries. And, as I indicated, the incident at Kingstown Park, the gentleman was met at the scene of the incident. So we believe he may have been involved, one way or the other in that matter,” the senior detective said.
He said police do not suspect that anything was stolen from the Israels’ home, but noted that the glass of the front door was shattered, as well as the glass in a bedroom window, which has burglar bars.
A family friend of the Israels’, Declon Lynch of Block 2000, a neighbouring community, made the gruesome discovery at the house when he went to check up on woman and her son, at the request of one of her daughter.
Lynch said he went to the police after seeing Ronald in the patio with his head smashed in.
Lynch told reporters at the scene that he has been a close friend of the family for about 10 years and would visit almost daily.
He said he was awaiting transportation to go on a job Monday morning, when one of Ms Israel’s daughter asked him to go and check on her.
“On entering the gate, I saw inside the porch it had Ronald Israel, in a pool of blood with a piece of baluster [next to him],” Lynch said.
He said after seeing Ronald lying dead, he went to the police station, located nearby, and raised the alarm.
Lynch said he did not enter the house because he suspected what had happened, having seen that the front door, a glass entry, was smashed in.
He said police did not allow him to enter the house, but he saw from a window that Ms Israel’s bed was bloody.
“I normally come up and spend like an hour or two. I am a friend of the family,” Lynch said, adding that the felt “really mash up” by what happened.
“To lose someone so close, it is hurtful man,” he told reporters and described the Israels as “humble people”.
“I mean Ron is a little alcoholic but they are humble people,” Lynch said.
Meanwhile, St. Clair Leacock, Member of Parliament for Central Kingstown, where three of the murders took place, told reporters that the killings were “an extremely dark hour for us”.
He said what seemed to be striking everyone is the “heinous nature of the murders.
“I’m told that the way in which the body was dealt with here in Largo Height (Old Montrose) that the brain is literally out of the body. I am using local language. It’s just as what happened in Campden Park.
“So, it is not just that you killed somebody or you robbed somebody, you are just brutal in the way you carried out the murder.”
“The police are also saying the nature of the murders here seem to have a very similar pattern with that which has happened in Kingstown Park. So, that is bitter-sweet, in the sense that you have somebody in custody out of the Kingstown Park [killing], which means that you have a lead of some kind. But that is little solace to the fact that at least three families have lost loved one.”
Leacock said that the latest killings must be contrasted against what has happened over the last few weeks, “save and except to make mention of the fact that some seem to have been drug- or gang-related, whereas these seem unexplained at the moment.
Leacock, an opposition MP, who is the New Democratic Party’s spokesperson on national security matters, said that the solution to the matter goes beyond the political divide “in which all of us have to be charged with going back to the drawing board, going back to the root of what is wrong in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, whether these things are being driven by the drug culture; whether we are, in fact, witnessing the inhumanity of man; whether it is the jobless nature of the society that is bringing this upon us, or just the plain absence of Christian or human feelings in what we are doing.”