2014 murder toll takes off with 7 in 2 days

By Gyasi Gonzales and Kim Boodram

Seven murders have been committed in the first two days of the new year.

In 2013, the first murder of the year did not occur until January 2. The murder toll in 2013 ended at 407.

Murder #1: 

Pastor Casimir Khan, 52, who was shot dead at 2.45 a.m. on New Year’s Day when bandits stormed his Mausica, Arima, home in search of a large gold chain Khan’s son, Ezra Khan, was wearing at the time, police said.

From 2.45 a.m. on New Year’s Day, six other people were killed.

Murders #2 and #3: 

In Princes Town, south Trinidad, a couple were found stabbed to death at their Inverness home. 

• See story on Page 5

Murder #4: 

In Tobago, a man was killed in a domestic situation.

• See story on Page 5

Murder #5: 

In Wallerfield on Wed­nesday night, around the same time the couple in Princes Town were murdered, another life was snuffed out.

The Wallerfield father of one was gunned down near his home, and his family believes the bad company he kept was responsible for his demise.

Francis Bernard, 31, lived in Agua Santa Road, Wallerfield, with his relatives.

He had one daughter, six, who lived with her mother in Longdenville, Chaguanas.

Around 8.30 p.m., Bernard walked out of his family home and was liming with friends when around 10 p.m., several gunshots were heard outside the house.

When his family rushed outside, they did not see Bernard.

About 200 metres from the house, however, Bernard’s younger brother found his body in some bushes off the roadway.

The Sangre Grande police were called and after being examined by a district medical officer, the body was later moved to the Port of Spain Mortuary.

Bernard’s body was afterwards taken to the Forensic Science Centre in St James.

Curlene Daniel, Bernard’s sister, told reporters yesterday: “He was a good man to me. I mean, we used to talk a lot, and the last thing he told me was all the best for the new year. So when I heard he got killed, I was shocked.”

She described her bro­ther as “a very active person who was known all over”.

She said he was unemployed and survived off a disability grant from the State as his left leg had been injured and he was unable to work.

Asked why someone would want to kill her brother, Daniel could not say but added, “some of the friends he kept were not nice people”. 

She later admitted he had spent a year in jail but did not want to say why he was imprisoned.

Murder #6: 

A 65-year-old Cocorite man who neighbours des­cribed as mentally unstable was brutally beaten about the body yesterday, following which his attacker doused him with gasoline and then set his body on fire.

The incident happened in the Waterhole, Cocorite, area, around 6 a.m. 

Police said they were called around that time when a 25-year-old man was seen beating Leroy Haynes about the body. 

Police said he was killed because he had a habit of speaking very loudly about crime issues in the area, and they suspect the man who murdered him had committed a crime and “did not appreciate the fact that Haynes was speaking about him”.

Police said as Haynes lay on the roadway after being beaten, the suspect grabbed a container of gasoline, poured it all over his body and then struck a match.

The suspect then ran off as Haynes burned to death.

Someone saw what happened and told the police who did it.

Within minutes, the suspect was captured by a team of Western Division officers and taken to the St James Police Station where he was being questioned up to last night.

Homicide Bureau, along with officers of the St James CID, are continuing investigations.

Murder #7: 

In the latest murder yesterday evening, a family who went fishing off the Caroni flyover found instead the country’s seventh murder victim for the new year.

The victim, a man who is yet to be identified, was discovered submerged in the swampy waters of the mangrove, east of the Caroni Bird Sanctuary, along the lay-by of the flyover, heading north.

Inspector Terrence Williams, of the Chaguanas CID, who issued a call for the public’s help in identifying yesterday’s “John Doe”, said the man had been shot in the neck.

One and a half concrete blocks had been tied to the man’s left ankle, in a failed attempt to sink his body into the murky waters. Rigor mortis had already set in, with the man’s arms having stiffened in an upraised position.

Williams said the man was of East Indian descent, appeared to be middle-aged and was of slight build, with a height around five feet, four inches. The body was clothed in a blue T-shirt and blue three-quarter jeans. On the man’s left arm was a tattoo of a cross. 

The body was discovered around 4 p.m.

As the body lay on the side of the road before being taken away by a funeral service, a large crowd gathered, some jostling the media as they tried to do video recordings of the corpse and the police’s activities with their cellular phones.

The police were at one point forced to push the crowd back, with instructions not to cross a certain point.

The area where the man was found was under a culvert , said to be a popular fishing spot, often visited by crab-catchers. 

It also appeared to be a popular dumping ground. 

The road itself was littered with garbage bags and in the water, a variety of items floated—old toys, appliances and a large, woven, plastic feed sack, covered in flies.

The area is said to be well-lit at night as that part of the lay-by is usual­ly busy with visitors leaving the nearby Bird Sanctuary late on evenings.

One of the sanctuary’s most popular attractions takes place on evenings when the birds, including one of the national birds, the scarlet ibis, come home to roost.

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