THIS story is meant particularly for the people who know exactly what happened on the afternoon of May 14, 2003, and why. Whoever has the information is encouraged to make the call that may unravel a decade-old mystery. The odds of this happening are longer than the Lotto. Trinidad and Tobago is a country where there are fewer happy endings, and time has a way of replacing initial empathy, with wild conspiracy.
However, you are asked to recall the case of Marc Prescott, since it may be his last chance. Two people have taken their secrets to the grave already.
Marc was six years old when he vanished from outside the San Fernando Boys’ Roman Catholic Primary School at Harris Promenade, 11 years ago this month. Most people connected to the case, his relatives and the police, believe he is alive, most likely in the country, given a new identity by abductors/caregivers, and clueless about his past. Marc will be 18 years old on December 11 this year.
He was taken at a time when kidnapping was a lucrative business in a country already exhausted by violent crime. And if you think it’s outrageous that someone could just disappear on an island of less than 5,200 square kilometres, consider the cases of Deomatie Persad, Pixie Lakhan, or Vijay Persad. What happened when they went missing is all you need to know about why the police and the people continue to fail in finding the lost.
A week before Marc’s abduction, Deomatie, 25, left her then infant daughter at the family’s Cushe Village home and went into the Biche forest, where she was employed on a project to cut a path for a seismic survey. She never came home.
No police went in to help to search. Hunters stepped on her bones three months later. There are people who know who committed the rape and murder. The police never solved it. The infant daughter she left behind eventually stopped believing the story that the helicopters passing overhead taking offshore oil works to the rigs carried her mom who would one day land, so she could return home.
And there would be a final indignity. The family begged for months for Deomatie’s bones to be returned from the Forensic Science Centre. The police said they had to wait for a DNA match to provide legally satisfying proof. That never happened, and the bones were lost. There was never a funeral.
On June 21, 2004, ten-year-old Vijay Persad was taken from outside his father’s mini mart at Indian Walk, Moruga, after his father refused the demand to unlock the door leading into the house and to his wife and three daughters.
For that, Vijay was dragged away into the Moruga forest. The police took too long to come. The boy was long gone by then.
Ragkumar Persad got a ransom call five days later, and his asthmatic son was allowed to speak. The child was never heard from again.
The burglar proofing the family installed after the kidnapping turned out to be a prison from which they could not escape when the house went up in flames in 2008, killing Ragkumar, his wife and two daughters.
Persad lived in misery to the end, with a rumour taking root that “Vijay was taken home by his real father”, that he was a victim of human trafficking, that it was all Persad’s fault for choosing to keep that door locked.
Police consider the case an opportunistic kidnapping and that Vijay died while being kept in the forest while the criminals waited for their $500,000 ransom demand to be delivered.
The suspect, a small-time robber and drug dealer from nearby St Mary’s Village, Moruga, who was held within a week of Vijay’s snatching, was released for lack of evidence. He knew where Vijay’s bones could be found, the investigator believed. But police shot, killed, and silenced him during a car chase years later. That forest grave remains undiscovered.
Less than a year later, Pixie Lakhan vanished after getting out of a taxi, at the intersection of the SS Erin Road, and Spring Trace, Siparia, where she lived.
A missing person’s report was filed regarding the 16-year-old schoolgirl. The police snickered. One of the most senior officers in the district confidently told reporters that Pixie was “living with ah man in Caratal” and would be home when she was “satisfied” (a police mantra to this day).
It was only when village sex offender Paul Vincent Seerattan was held a month later for the rape and murder, one road away, of Pixie’s aunt, Taramatie Toolsie, that he led police to Pixie’s bones, around the corner from her home. Pixie’s father died in 2007 long before the killer was convicted of the murders.
Lyncia Bailey does not want to die without knowing what happened to Marc. She is Marc’s great-aunt, who had cared for him from infancy. Marc’s mother, Genelle, died shortly after his birth, leaving behind Marc and his twin sisters, Cheyanne and Arianne.
At her home in Palmyra, where she still cares for the twins and waits for Marc, Bailey said “sometimes I get up at two in the morning. I pray at night asking God to bring him home. I get up from my bed and open the door, hoping to see him outside there, standing”.
She said: “I wonder sometimes what he looks like now. If they taking good care of him. What did they tell him when they took him? Did he get a good education? This is something important to me. Is he getting love and attention? We would sit and talk about how handsome he would be now. And tall, like his sisters.”
There was a $150,000 ransom demand made for Marc in the first days of his abduction, which most consider to be bogus. However, as in the other cases, the police turned their attention to other matters within weeks of the abduction.
Bailey says it’s likely Marc was taken by someone he knew. When his mother died, other relatives wanted to raise him.
“I know that the (relative) wanted him, but Marc’s father (offshore oil worker) Wayne Prescott let them know he didn’t want to separate the children. The siblings had to grow up together. I have told them (the relatives) that it is they who took him, based on what went on. I don’t believe a stranger took that child. He would not have gone with a stranger. I imparted this to all three. We taught them from small. Which is why, if I die in the morning, I will go believing it is them. It was a wicked act. Wicked and horrifying because time does not make it better. Each day it gets worse. But we keep hoping. Hope has not died for us”.
If you know something...
Marc Prescott, a pupil of the San Fernando Boys’ Roman Catholic Primary School, disappeared around 3 p.m. The school bus driver who took him home made a check of the classroom. Nothing. The teacher remembered Marc copying the last of his schoolwork before leaving the room. None of the children could recall if Marc got into a vehicle at Harris Promenade or was led away on foot. There were no CCTV cameras in the city at the time. There has been much slanderous speculation since. The police do not believe this to be a case of kidnapping, but categorise it as “child stealing”. There is no active investigation currently. If you have information on this case (or any other missing persons case) you are encouraged to contact the writer at email@example.com, or 353-3430. Or call 800-tips.