2-year-wait for release of bodies of 3 Guapo murder victims

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

TORTUROUS WAIT: Siblings Michael and Cindy Farrell speak outside the Forensic Science Centre in St James on Thursday, about the long wait to retrieve the bodies of their mother, brother and neighbour who were chopped to death and their Guapo house set ablaze in February 2020.
Photo by Angelo Marcelle

RELATIVES of a mother and son murdered over two years ago, along with a neighbour whom they took in, want to bury their loved ones, but their bodies have not been released from the Forensic Science Centre.

Speaking with the media at the centre at Barbados Road, Port of Spain, brother and sister Michael and Cindy Farrell say after almost two and a half years, they just want closure.

Fighting back tears, Cindy said: “There is no closure. We need closure. Not only for me, but also for the rest of the whole family.

“We can’t move on with our lives. There is nothing we can do. We can’t bury them. We need closure and we need justice also.

“This is a horrible way for somebody who is innocent to die, and it is wearing on us that we not even getting the bodies. Two and a half years! Somebody needs to give us answers on what is really taking place.”

On February 28, 2020, police and fire officers went to a burning house at Petrotrin Quarters in Guapo. After outing the blaze, they found the bodies of 69-year-old Ceslyn “Linda” Farrell, her son Patrick, 48, and friend Seycelles Hannah, 41, burnt beyond recognition.

Ceslyn Linda Farrell, 69 

Their autopsy reports said they had been chopped and stabbed to death and their house set afire.

Michael said just after the murders the pandemic hit, and he understood and accepted that there would be some delays – but 29 months was not what he expected.

“I find they take too long for us to retrieve the remains of my brother and my mother. I find this system is dragging this thing too long. The process is too long and overbearing.

“The latest information I have is that I have to register a late death and that will take two weeks.”

He said he began his quest at the San Fernando branch of Legal Affairs and was referred to the Point Fortin branch. At Point Fortin, the registrar fell ill and he had to wait for her health to improve. After she died he was referred back to San Fernando.

There the process had to restart with his making an appointment.

“After I had given a sample of my DNA, they said they sent it abroad to process. That was taking too long and eventually we reached out to the media.

“After about a month they called me back and told me that I have to do over the DNA (sampling). And that is where we got a little advancement.”

DNA samples needed to be taken to confirm the identity of the victims because they were burnt beyond recognition.

He called on those in authority to assist in expediting the final paperwork, which he said is supposed to take two weeks. He recalled that less than a month after the killing, he gave a sample of DNA along with a relative of Hannah’s.

“This year, in February, I came and do over the DNA (sampling). They said, going on their words, there were no results from the first time. I don’t know what happened to the first set of results, so I had to do it over.

“After I found they were taking too long I came to Forensic and they said they had to wait until I got the DNA results.”

He said the bodies have already been identified and all he is waiting for now is the death certificates to take back to the centre so the bodies can be released for burial.

Cindy said her mother took in Hannah, who was kicked out of her home, and less than a month later, her family members and Hannah were murdered.

“She lost her life, and my brother, trying to help somebody.

“For me, I am hoping for justice. I am hoping for justice.”

Seycelles Hannah, 41 

She said the domestic dispute that led to the triple killing could have been dealt with differently, instead of ending in chopping deaths and the destruction of the home her mother worked hard to build.

Addressing violence against women, Michael said men should learn to control their emotions.

“If they don’t have God in their heart, you’ll find anything possible will happen. People talk about the Bible, but it is a foundation of the beginning of things.

“Men need to put their emotions aside and deal with the problem, and the problem is (lack of) communication. Communicate with the individual you have the situation with, regardless if it is your woman, your mother, your friend.

“This thing going on far too long where men just killing women, sometimes people grew up together and you just killing them senselessly without remorse.”

He said he is bearing with the process at this time, while his sister reiterated that the family just wants closure and justice.