PORT OF SPAIN – Although T&T joined the world in celebrating the immense value of women last week, the issue of domestic violence rose to the forefront once again as La Brea mother Abigail Jones-Chapman, her daughter Olivia Chapman and friend Micheala Mason were murdered, allegedly by a rejected lover.
It is believed Jones-Chapman’s courageous landlord Michael Scott, 69, attempted to rescue them from their killer, but he too was beaten to death.
Police said around 9.30 p.m. Tuesday, a group of men who worked with Scott went to his Khani Settlement, Sobo Village, La Brea home after numerous calls to his phone went unanswered. Suspecting that something was wrong, they went to the La Brea police seeking help.
When they returned with senior police officers, they found Jones-Chapman’s other two children, Kacy, 12 and Amy, eight, in Scott’s apartment. The officers became suspicious after calls at Jones-Chapman’s apartment went unanswered and attempted to force the door open. However, Scott’s body was slumped behind the door, blocking the officers from entering.
When they eventually got into the house, Scott, a retired and beloved history teacher of the San Fernando Central Secondary School, was found with his head bashed in. Jones-Chapman, 41, a Spanish and Physical Education teacher at the Southern Academy of the Seventh Day Adventist, La Romaine and Olivia, 16, a Point Fortin East Secondary School student, were found beaten to death in the living room.
Crime Scene Investigators were called in and while searching the apartment they found Mason, 14, in the kitchen with her throat slit. Police believe the murders occurred on Tuesday afternoon. Officers also found a cricket stump in the house which they believe was used on at least three of the victims.
Yesterday, relatives said Jones-Chapman split from her husband two years ago and when she needed a place to stay, Scott, who attends the La Brea Seventh Day Adventist Church with her, provided refuge. A year ago, she got together with the man suspected of the murders, but decided to break off the relationship a week ago.
Mason, who lives in another part of Sobo Village, had been visiting Olivia.
According to Jones-Chapman’s mother Christine Jones, last Thursday the suspect, who lives in Gonzales Village, Guapo, attacked her daughter with a knife. Jones said the police failed her daughter.
“They had a scuffle last Thursday, he tried to put a knife to her throat and he wrung up her hand. When she called and told me, I told her to go to the police and report it and she made the report. She went to the health centre and they said that they were going to pick him up, but they never did.
“Sometimes I don’t understand, when people make reports, look into the matter right away. Don’t wait for a day or two days because you don’t know what the person is thinking,” Jones said.
Jones said her daughter began to feel uncomfortable over the control the suspect wanted to enforce.
“He would tell her what to wear, where to go and who to speak to. To tell you the truth, my family don’t accept that,” she said.
“I as the mother, ain’t accepting that. No one controls me more than God, so I told her, ‘try your best, get rid of that person, get out of that situation fast’.”
Jones said the suspect had even told her daughter that the fate of Margaret Ragoobar-Guevarra, who was killed by a relative in an attempted murder/suicide in Sangre Grande last month, should have been hers.
She said following last Thursday’s scuffle, Olivia berated the suspect for attacking her mother, calling him a little boy. Scott, who heard the commotion, went to the apartment and told the suspect to take whatever he had and leave. For the remaining days, the family lived uncomfortably. Jones said Scott had also told Jones-Chapman to stay at his apartment.
However, it was all in vain.
Neighbours near the house said yesterday they had heard no commotion, but those on another road said they heard screams on Monday night but were unsure where it came from. The news of the murders rocked the quiet community, as neighbour Peter Blackman described them as a nightmare. He said he went to the airport to drop off his wife and when they got the news she cancelled the flight.
“Mr Scott was like a genuine brother, a neighbour you would want to have, a villager you would want to be around. He was loving, respectful and charitable in a Christian way,” Blackman said.
“Abigail was a hard working mother, struggling to see about her children and had now decided to build a little house. That is how tragic it is.”
Scott’s son is expected in the country later this week.
Police were still searching for the killer last night.
Women lost to Domestic Violence in 2018:
January 2: Arisa Vana David, 25 was strangled at her Chase Village, Chaguanas home, allegedly by her common-law husband, Joseph Bryan Bennett.
January 4: The body of La Romaine mother Vanessa Ali was found in Barrackpore. She was shot in the head allegedly by an ex lover.
February 2: School teacher, Kayla Marie Solomon-Caine was bludgeoned with a hammer in Lambeau, Tobago following a domestic dispute.
Feb 26: School teacher Margaret Ragoobar Guevarra, 42, was shot dead by a relative who attempted suicide at their home in Coalmine Village, Sangre Grande.
March 2: Latchmi Persad, 42, a mini mart attendant, was strangled to death at her Chickland Freeport home following an argument with a close friend.