POWERFUL BLOW: Keyana Cumberbatch

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‘This won’t be forgotten’

Family, friends, classmates grieve for Keyana

By Kim Boodram

SPIRITUAL Elder Bishop Barbara Gray-Burke will tomorrow officiate at the funeral of murdered Maloney girl Keyana Cumberbatch, who was a pupil of the St Barbara’s Spiritual Shouter Baptist Primary School, of which Burke is the manager.

Gray-Burke up to yesterday said the school remained in mourning for six-year-old Keyana.

During a visit to the school yesterday, the Express was told that Keyana’s former teacher, who was overwhelmed at the girl’s death, could not speak to the media.

Keyana’s classmates were also reported to be having difficulty coping and Gray-Burke said social workers have been helpful so far in offering counselling. The school services largely the Maloney area located opposite and is attended by many children who were also Keyana’s friends in the neighbourhood.

Keyana was found dead inside a shipping barrel last Thursday in the Maloney apartment where she lived with her mother, Simone Williams and others.

The child had been missing since last Monday. 

Williams’ last knowledge of the child was that she had left the apartment to visit a grandmother in a neighbouring building.

An autopsy last Friday showed that Keyana had been fatally struck on the head with a blunt object, with enough force to crack her skull and that her small body had been sexually violated after her death.

A male friend of Williams’ is currently in custody, assisting police with the investigation.

“This will not be forgotten any time soon,” Gray-Burke said yesterday.

“This is a lot for everyone to deal with. It is a powerful blow and it is not a situation that anyone is taking lightly.”

Gray-Burke met with 27-year-old Williams yesterday morning, after days of trying to connect in person and described the meeting as “very emotional”.

“This is a mother who loved her child,” Gray-Burke said.

“I am frightened for her. She is weeping all the time. She is not eating or sleeping. She is barely speaking. I am praying for her and she is getting support from relatives and friends but she will need serious and consistent professional counselling.”

Keyana’s funeral is being handled pro bono by the Saint Rose Funeral Services in Tunapuna.

A visit to the dead child’s former home showed evidence of the occurrences of the last few days, from  the discovery of her body by her mother, to the community’s efforts to mourn together and support Williams.

Building Four, where Keyana lived, was all but deserted.

There was none of the activity of last Friday, when neighbours, some having taken the day off work, got together to make flambeaux and collect money for a wake.

Outside, a few scattered beer bottles, covered in soot, marked the places where the flambeaux had burned.

The steps leading to the small apartment where the murder is thought to have taken place, still bore the wax from lighted candles.

The apartment itself was shut and yellow police tape remained on the door.

The Express was told by a member of the community yesterday afternoon that the family had not been seen for the day.

“There is no way she (Williams) can stay there,” said, Gray-Burke, adding that she would not have wished Williams’ ordeal on her “worst enemy”.

“I do not see that she will be able to live there. She still can’t come to terms with what has happened.”

Keyana’s funeral, which was advertised in the newspapers yesterday, will take place at Gray-Burke’s church, the Counsel of Elder Spiritual Shouter Empower Hall, Churchill Roosevelt Highway,  at 1 p.m. and will be followed by burial at the Crown Street Cemetery, Tacarigua. 

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