Wednesday 19 September, 2018

Cops step up hunt for thug(s) who raped, murdered girl in 'Jungle'

Members of the island's security forces  have aggressively stepped up their search for person(s) responsible for the brutal attack and murder of 14-year-old Yetanya Francis, otherwise called ‘Princess’, in the community of Arnett Gardens in South St Andrew.

Police made the revelation while indicating that they are pursuing a promising lead in the murder case that has rocked the community.

"A dust mask and a T-shirt were found close to the body, and the police are doing an analysis of the shirt to see if there is any residual DNA that may turn up additional leads," an officer at the Constabulary Communication Unit told Loop News reporter Claude Mills on Saturday.

The body of Francis was found burnt and dumped at the back of a church premises in the 12th Street section of the community on Friday.

Police say they suspect the child was attacked and raped, then her body was burnt and dumped in the area.

The macabre murder has triggered shock, fear and anger in the area.

“Lord have mercy on us, not even the baby them safe from these set of heartless criminals,” said a woman who spoke in a hushed tone as she joined other residents close to the scene where the body of the teen was found.

Some women and children from the group wept openly after hearing news of the killing.

Police trying to quell tensions have since increased their presence in the community, and have issued a call for residents to share whatever information they have on the incident as they seek to bring the thug(s) responsible for the murder to justice.

“We are calling on the residents in the area to share what they know with the police as we seek to capture those responsible for this act,” said Howard Chambers, Senior Superintendent in charge of the Kingston Western Police Division in which the 12th Street community falls.

The senior cop made the call on Saturday morning while at the same time raising concern about the level of silence in the area.

“We are calling on residents to rise up, tell the police what you know. Yesterday it was (Miss) Francis, tomorrow it could be your own child. As parents, as residents, it is time to speak up,” said another policeman.

Police said not only was  the level of silence making it difficult for police to capture individuals who have been creating problems in the area, but it was also giving the criminals more power to continue to commit crimes such as the one involving Francis.

“We are calling on residents to break the level of silence. Tell the police what you know, help us to help you the residents," Chambers said.

The senior superintendent said his team was also investigating reports that there have been a number of other attacks and rapes in the community over the past two months, the most recent reportedly took place two weeks ago in the neighbouring Trench Town community, where an eight-year-old was reportedly raped.

Police said they could not confirm the reports, but were still doing checks.

“This sort of information is what we are getting by the wayside. Residents are not coming in to report these matters, and that it what we are saying; residents need to do more to help the police, so that we can carry out our duties more effectively,” said  another officer from the division.

Sources from the area said Francis left her home to purchase food at a nearby shop, but never returned.

It set off an alarm and residents began searching for the girl.  

The search ended in tragedy as the teen’s charred remains were found. Reports are that her killers allegedly raped her, chopped her in the head, and then set her body on fire.

Sources from the area said some residents heard Francis calling for help, and later had even smelled smoke coming from an open lot, but said they thought it was from a dead animal being burnt.

Last August, 17-year-old Mickolle Moulton of 10th Street, Zimbabwe in the community also known as 'Jungle', was shot through her bedroom window along with her 12-year-old sister. They were taken to hospital where Mickolle was pronounced dead and her sister was treated.

It is alleged that Mickolle was killed because she had refused the sexual advances of men in the area.