Body in Beetham river
By Alexander Bruzual Friday, December 13 2013
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CRIME SCENE: Somewhere among these leaves and rubbish in the Beetham River, the body of Kendall Thomas was found yesterday, one day after he was abduc...
ONE DAY after he was abducted from a maxi-taxi which had stopped at the side of the Priority Bus Route (PBR) to let off a passenger, the body of 25-year-old Kendall Thomas was discovered in a river off the Beetham Gardens yesterday afternoon.
Police reported that at about 1.30 pm on Wednesday, a maxi-taxi which contained eight passengers was proceeding along the PBR west towards City Gate in Port-of-Spain from Arima, when one of the passengers pressed the bell for the vehicle to stop so he could get off near 19th Street in Beetham Gardens.
As the maxi-taxi came to a stop at the side of the bus route, three gunmen entered the maxi-taxi and announced a hold-up. The gunmen then proceeded to rob the passengers and driver of the maxi-taxi.
It is believed that Thomas resisted being robbed by the armed assailants and as a result, was dragged out of the vehicle. As the gunmen forced Thomas to walk with them into the Beetham Gardens, the driver quickly drove off with passengers still inside his maxi-taxi.
Earlier reports of a woman and another man also being abducted along with Thomas, were not true, police sources said. Since Thomas’ abduction on Wednesday, heavily armed police officers from the Besson Street Police Station and the Inter Agency Task Force, under the supervision of Superintendent Carlton Alleyne with assistance from Inspector Sahadeo Singh and Cpl Budree, began an intensive street-to-street search of Beetham Gardens for Thomas.
Several residents were questioned on Wednesday evening by police officers who were seen leading several young men into the back of a police van. The search for Thomas continued into Wednesday night.
During the night, police officers began receiving reports that Thomas’ body had been dumped in the Beetham River which snakes its way from the Eastern Main Road, then the bus route, in Beetham Gardens and then across the Beetham Highway and filters into a network of marshes and water ways.
Officers made a sweep of the area just north of the east bound lane of the Beetham Highway and in the vicinity of the National Petroleum Building but they did not find the body. Following extensive enquiries, officers detained four persons in connection with Thomas’ abduction.
One of the suspects, sources said, is a 14-year-old boy from Beetham area who had injuries to his hand, similar to those which eyewitnesses in the maxi-taxi later told police, were sustained by one of the armed bandits during the hold-up on Wednesday.
The officers returned yesterday to the Beetham and resumed the search. Shortly after 2 pm, an arm was seen protruding from mounds of silt and rubbish in the river. Arrangements were then made to source an excavator to remove the body from the river.
Officers returned at about 3.45 pm and cordoned off the area. They began to search the immediate surroundings for evidence yet no attempt was made to remove the body themselves.
Senior officers last night told Newsday they were awaiting the arrival of crime scene investigators before proceeding. Up 8.30 pm, Thomas’ body was still in the river, although by this time, a backhoe had arrived. Thomas’ relatives at the scene spoke of their shock and horror over what had befallen their loved one.
“I personally can’t say if he had any altercations with the law and stuff. I think he had a matter a few years ago but to say he deserved this? Not at all. His death, I know, will take a heavy toll on our mother and sisters. Right now everyone is just trying to cope,” Thomas’ brother Kevon Charles said. Police theorise that shortly after he was abducted, Thomas was shot and his body dumped in the river. Investigations are continuing.
Two men were shot dead while liming at a bar at Valot Street in St Clair shortly after seven o’clock last night.
David Phelps, 47, of Agra Street, St James and Rawle Cassie, 43, of Boissiere Village, Maraval were at the bar when two men walked in and fired at the two men. Phelps died on the spot while Cassie was pronounced dead on arrival at the Port-of-Spain General Hospital.
Homicide officers remained on the scene late last night. Officers of the Port-of-Spain CID Acting ASP Ajith Persad and Inspector Rawle Ramdeo were on the scene and inquiries are continuing. The murder toll now stands at 380.