Decomposing body may be Rincon double-murder suspect

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

[NOT WATERMARK ON THIS PIC] Hollis Valdez and Shereen Bailey-Valdez –

The decomposing body of an unidentified man found in some bushes off Rincon Road, Las Cuevas is believed to be that of a suspect in the murders Hollis and Shereen Bailey-Valdez, who were found dead at their home on Friday.

Police sources told Newsday that the body was found by hikers at about 9 am on Monday, a short distance away from the scene of the Bailey-Valdez murder.

The body was in an advanced state of decomposition, police said, so it could not be determined whether there were any wounds or marks of violence on the body. Police sources added that no weapons were found near the body.

The body is expected to be taken to the Forensic Science Centre as investigators seek to identify the body.

On Friday at about 7.45 am, an anonymous caller contacted the Maracas Bay Police Station and reported hearing several gunshots at Rincon Road, Las Cuevas. Officers responded to the call and found the couple dead on their bedroom floor. The couple was last seen at the funeral for 22-year-old Meshach Gibson who was killed in a shoot-out with police in La Fillette, Blanchisseusse on July 19.

Relatives claimed that Shereen Bailey-Valdez was in an on-and-off relationship with the suspect for 13 years. She got death threats from the man, who gave her four days to live prior to her murder. After the murder, villagers said the suspect admitted to killing the couple to a relative.

Villagers were told that shortly after the murder, a single gunshot was heard in the forest. Police and villagers searched the forest on Friday for a body, but to no avail.

Fiery protests as villagers demand to see body

Villagers staged a protest as police processed the scene and removed the decomposing body from a forested area off Rincon Road as they demanded to see the body and confirm for themselves whether or not the body was that of the suspect.

“Everybody was feeling unsafe since he was on the run so people wanted to identify or confirm that it was him. But the police didn’t want that,” one villager said.

The villagers lit debris on Rincon Road in protest of the police’s refusal to show them the body. The burning debris was removed, but residents formed a human blockade to stop the officers from leaving the scene, demanding that they see the body.

Eventually, police showed a picture of the body to a relative of Bailey-Valdez who said that the body was that of the suspect. Villagers said that the body was missing its hands – supposedly as a result of animals in the forest – and that he may have had a gunshot wound to his head.

“He identified the body by its structure,” the villager said. “Remember he (the suspect) is known to us because he lived in the village too.”

Residents in the village said there is a sense of relief, now that the suspect is believed to have been found.

“Everybody was kind of frightened,” the villager said. “We were in the wake last night and we were kind of jumpy because we were thinking he could be in the bushes – you don’t know. So it is a relief now.”

Relatives – we have not identified him

While villagers expressed relief that the suspect was found, his mother and sister said they had not yet identified the body nor confirmed that it is the suspect’s.

They said they were informed that a body was found in the area and were advised to go to the Forensic Science Centre in St James on Wednesday to identify it.

The suspect’s sister told Newsday the last time she saw the suspect was on Wednesday.

“He came down at my work on Wrightson Road and I gave him a roti. It was chicken goat and beef mixed, because he loves his belly.”

“On Thursday he called me. He asked if food was ready. I say no. When he didn’t stop by on Thursday, I said alright, I will see him Friday please God. On Friday, I finished cook food early. I thought was he going to call me but he didn’t call. A good friend of the family called me and told me what happened.”

She said her family members are now fearing for their lives as other villagers who may have wanted to take justice into their own hands could target the suspect’s family next.

“We have to be alert right now because we don’t know what is going to happen. I have an elderly father and he is living right inside there, so I don’t know what the situation is.”

The relative complained that police treated them poorly when they were informed about the discovery of the body. She speculated that the mistreatment may have been because they were the family of a person suspected in a murder.

“The police officer come and asked for my mother and didn’t even greet us. He just said ‘forensic Wednesday.’ That is all. That is how you come to tell a mother about her son – ‘forensic Wednesday.’ That is how they addressed us today.”

“We know our brother is guilty. We are not going to lie and say that he didn’t do it. We know that he did it and we know why.

“We know how our brother felt. But at the end of the day, the family is not guilty and the family is human beings. So you can’t treat everybody like they are guilty.

“You can’t treat people’s family like they are dogs.”