Some background to the attacks on women and children nationally
Yetanya Francis (left) and Michelle Moulton, both previously of Arnett Gardens, South St Andrew.
The nation is still trying to come to terms with the recent gory rape, murder and torching of the body of 14-year-old Kingston Technical High School student, Yetanya Francis, otherwise called ‘Princess’, in her community of Arnett Gardens, also called ‘Concrete Jungle’, in South St Andrew.
The body of the child, who went missing on the night of Thursday, August 23, was found the following day relatively near to where she lived on Tenth Street in the community.
The horrific murder came a year after 17-year-old Meadowbrook High School student, Michelle Moulton, of Tenth Street, ‘Zimbabwe’ in the same Arnett Gardens community, was shot through her bedroom window, along with her 12-year-old sister.
They were taken to hospital, where Michelle was pronounced dead and her sister was treated for her injuries.
There were reports that Michelle was killed because she had spurned sexual advances from men in the community. Reports to that effect led to aggression against her family, and they reportedly left the community in fear of their lives.
While not reported to have come under any such direct pressure, Yetanya’s mother has also left the community, where an individual was shot and injured close by her home days after her daughter’s killing. That was after the targeted person had been detained, questioned and released by the police in relation to the rape and murder of the schoolgirl.
The two incidents reflect the growing trend of significantly increased violence being perpetrated against the nation's women and children, even as members of the state security forces continue to battle with crime generally across the country.
Only last Tuesday, a woman was found at about 1:30 a.m. in a cooler on the back seat of a Toyota Starlet motorcar with her throat slashed, along the Winston Jones Highway in Manchester.
Subsequently, Linton Stephenson, a church deacon, has been named as a person of interest in respect to that gruesome killing.
It has been said that a search of his house led to the recovery of a bloodstained knife believed to have been the murder weapon, and there were other blood-related signs of foul play at the house.
Alesha Francis and her 10-year-old son, Teco Jackson.
Last week also, a 31-year-old woman, Alesha Francis, and her 10-year-old son, Teco Jackson, were chopped to death, reportedly by Francis’s former lover, Orville ‘Bull’ Scarlett, who was himself mobbed and killed a little over two days after, in St Ann. Francis and Jackson were killed in Linton Park, while Scarlett was lynched in neigbouring Watt Town.
And another woman, 66-year-old farmer Winifred Elliot of New Forest district in Manchester, was found with multiple stab wounds at her home.
Over in western Jamaica, the Hanover police reported that a mother, 45-year-old Carlene Clover, and her 25-year-old son, Uton Cockett, were gunned down at their Elgin Town home in Lucea, Hanover last month.
The police later stated that Cockett was a top-tier gangster.
It is believed that the deadly attack may have been the work of members of rivalling factions within a particular gang.
Shortly after the double murder, speaking at a function in the parish, Prime Minister Andrew Holness, while not making any reference to the incident, called on Hanover residents to give up family members who they know are involved in criminal activities.
"There has got to be stronger co-operation between the citizens and the police. And I can only speak to you as brothers and sisters. If I know that any of my family (member) commits a crime or is a criminal, I am going to give them up. I can't say it any clearer than that. And that is what it comes down to," Holness urged.
He bemoaned the many instances of murders in the parish, some of which he stated were reportedly committed by "close friends and family members".
Prime Minister Andrew Holness... called for a break in the bond between criminals and their supportive relatives.
"I say to you only now as your brother, that we cannot give sucker and protection to the criminals that are in our midst. It is only going to destroy your community," the prime minister advised.
But the phenomenon of killing of members of the fair sex and children is not strange to western Jamaica.
Last November, a 17-year-old girl, Roxanne Daley, who lived in Cambridge, St James, was shot and killed during a daylight attack.
She became the third female to be killed within her small community within just a few days.
Daley was walking along McLeod Road where she lived in the community, when explosions were heard.
Upon the arrival of the police, who were summoned, the girl’s body was seen lying along the roadway.
Daley's death followed closely behind those of other female Cambridge residents, 44-year-old Annmarie Johnson and her daughter, Shantoy McKenzie, 24, both of the Mother Lane section of the community.
The two were murdered by gunmen who invaded their home a few nights before Daley's demise.
The police theorised that members of the Retrieve Gang, which operated from Mother Lane, Cambridge, were linked to the deadly attack on the mother and her daughter.
It was said that the gangsters were reportedly angered that the now deceased women had protested the stealing of their animals to provide meat for the staging of a party among the gang members in the community.
The leader of the gang, Ryan Peterkin, also called ‘Ratty’, who was listed among the five ‘most wanted’ figures island-wide by the Police High Command, was subsequently killed during a confrontation with members of the security forces in Westmoreland.
The week before Johnson and her daughter were killed by the gangsters, 41-year-old nail technician Cleoapatra Fletcher and her customer, 52-year-old Dawnette Shettleworth, were cut down in a hail of bullets at Fletcher's business establishment in Catherine Hall, Montego Bay.
The killing of women and children are theorised by the police to be, in many cases, acts of reprisal against persons connected to the victims, contract killings, and also efforts to silence rape victims.
The security forces and the Government, especially National Security Minister, Dr Horace Chang, have been pushing the message to the perpetrators of the wanton violence, especially against women and children, that their actions will not go unpunished. But there has been no clear indication so far of whether the message is getting home.