By NALINEE SEELAL and RALPH BANWARIE Tuesday, June 19 2012
THE sleepy village of Carapo in Arima was reeling in shock following the brutal attack and murder of two sisters who police say were raped, stabbed, their throats slit and then left inside their wooden house which was set on fire, during the early morning hours yesterday.
Autopsies done at the Forensic Science Centre, St James, by Forensic Pathologist Dr Valery Alexandrov revealed that Gwendolyn Kim Griffith, 35, and her sister Salisha Sue Griffith, 28, died after their throats were slit.
The sisters, it was reported to police, had on Sunday refused to give a man a drink of puncheon rum. The man, police said, apparently held a grudge against the women. He returned to their home in Pascall Lane, Carapo at 2 am yesterday in company with another man.
The men broke into the sisters’ home where they tied them up. Police said both sisters were raped by the intruders who then stabbed them and slit their throats. With both sisters bleeding and still tied up in the house, the men then doused the wooden structure with gasolene and set it on fire.
Unknown to the killers, a neighbour saw them fleeing and he contacted the Arima Police Station. Both suspects, said to be in their twenties, were arrested. After firemen extinguished the flames, they discovered the charred remains of the sisters among the ruins.
Salisha’s body which was found on a mattress in a bedroom was burnt beyond recognition, while Gwendolyn’s charred remains were discovered on the ground where the kitchen was once located. Marvin Griffith identified the bodies of his sisters. While policemen, firemen and crime scene officers were at the scene, residents stood near the police “caution” tape and spoke among themselves.
Many expressed shock at the brutality and savagery with which the sisters, described as “cool, nice people”, met their deaths. Residents described the sisters as ambitious, hard working and law-abiding citizens. Salisha was a mother of three young children — two boys named Jace and Nicolai and a girl named Jada Smith.
Another brother of the victims, Garvin Griffith, was in tears as he looked at the burnt remains of the house. Garvin, who had to be restrained by police during several emotional outbursts, told Newsday that on Sunday he and his sisters were liming outside the house having a few drinks in company with friends, when a man came up to them and asked for a drink of puncheon rum.
He said that his sisters refused the man’s request and the man left without saying anything. Griffith said he never knew that turning down that request would have led to the horrific murder of his sisters.
“Imagine that, my bright, energetic sisters who never troubled anyone, are dead...killed by people who have no regard for human life. I demand swift justice! Nothing or no one can bring back my sisters to life. All we can hope for now is that the persons responsible are brought to justice,” Griffith said.
He thanked the person who tipped off the police about the suspects and said that it was through interventions like these that criminals could be brought to justice. Another relative who asked not to be identified, said the sisters had six other siblings, four brothers and two sisters.
He added that Gwendolyn ran a parlour at Carapo, while Salisha Sue was pursing a degree in education at the University of the West Indies, St Augustine campus.
Earlier on Sunday, Salisha Sue and her brother Marvin, dropped off her eight-year-old son Jace at his father’s home in Arima, while the two other children, Nicolai, four, and Jada Smith, six, were also dropped off by their father’s home in Sangre Grande, to spend Father’s Day.
Marvin told Newsday he had asked Salisha Sue to leave Carapo and live with him at his Las Lomas home, to which she agreed. He said that he is unsure how to break the news to Salisha Sue’s children about their mother’s death.
At the Forensic Science Centre, Marvin was able to identify Gwendolyn as her face was still recognisable but his sister Salisha Sue was burnt beyond recognition and he had to identify her through her dental work.
“I always admired Gwendolyn’s teeth, because she had perfect teeth, but Salisha Sue used to suck her thumb when she was a child and while we used to tease her about her crooked teeth, I could differentiate them because of their teeth,” Marvin said.
Police sources told Newsday the two suspects who are from the Carapo area are cooperating with investigators and a file would be sent to Director of Public Prosecutions Roger Gaspard in a matter of days for instructions on what charges, if any, could be laid.
A party of officers led by Supt Nelson and including Ag Insp Wayne Baptiste visited the scene. The sisters’ deaths bring to 189 to number of murders committed so far this year.