Murdered Penal boy, 12, hailed a ‘legend’, mom buried

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Levi Lewis’s former schoolmates from St Dominic’s RC Primary School pay their final respects at a funeral for Lewis and his mother, Abeo Cudjoe, at Boodoo Funeral Chapel, SS Erin Road, Penal on Friday. – Photo by Roger Jacob

Hero, legend, little prophet, energetic, hardworking and athletic were some of the words mourners used to describe 12-year-old slain student Levi Lewis at his funeral on Friday.

Scores of people gathered at Boodoo’s chapel at the SS Erin Road in Penal to bid a final farewell to Levi and his mother Abeo Cudjoe, 31, formerly Yearwood, in the joint funeral.

Levi and his mother were attacked at the family’s home at Lachoos Road, Penal, on May 10.

He was stabbed once in the neck, and she was chopped and stabbed multiple times and died on the spot. He managed to walk for about ten minutes to Cudjoe’s father’s home at Penal Rock Road to alert relatives.

Levi’s paternal grandmother Mona Lewis recalled he was bleeding profusely, and God gave him the strength to reach his destination to tell the news.

“Our little hero displayed such bravery, strength and courage to save his mom’s life, but it wasn’t to be. He was like a little prophet carrying the message,” Lewis told mourners.

“Thank you, Abeo, for sending your son. He was an angel to me, and I am sure you would be proud of him to know what he did for you. Thank you, Abeo, for giving me such a great grandchild. I know his soul will rest in peace, and your soul will rest in peace.”

She also shared fond memories of him spending time with the Lewis’ family at Mc Bean in Couva.

The grandmother said he showed great potential and was very helpful.

Levi was a student of the St Dominic’s RC School. Several students and staff, including the school manager Fr Robert Christo, teacher Marcia Barclay and principal Lynn Moodie, attended.

The shock and pain of losing Levi, Moodie said, tremendously affected students and staff.

Moodie said Cudjoe was a past student of the school.

“He was a bright student with great potential. Standard two teacher, Ms Burnette, fondly called him grandson because she also taught Abeo,” Moodie said.

“Levi and his mother had that same smile. Abeo was shy and quiet but Levi was the opposite. Just like his mother was also good in track and field. He had great determination and believed in himself. He always wanted to be a winner, and often he was.”

The principal pleaded with all past students to be their brothers’ keepers. She said too many past students had lost their lives because of violence and crime.

Moodie said: “I entrust you to uplift our community, our school by being positive role models. Reach out to those who have lost their way. The St Dominic’s RC school has taught you to trust in God and follow in the ways of Christ. Be your brothers’ keeper and look out for each other.”

She said Levi is set to be honoured as a hero in the school’s SEA graduation ceremony this year.

Levi’s teacher said he wanted to pass for Presentation College in San Fernando and had big dreams.

Barclay said, “Levi was always involved in everything. At St Dominic’s Penal RC, we salute him for his contribution to giving our school a name to be reckoned with in football and track and field.”

Both coffins were side by side in the chapel. Next to the flowers on top of Levi’s coffin was a football from the school.

Levi’s uncle, Shane Lewis, referred to the boy as “one of a kind” who, even to the end, showed his bravery, strength and courage.

“I do not know when we will be able to get over this great hurdle and tremendous loss. But I know he is in a place of comfort and peace where there is no more pain and suffering,” Shane said.

“My simple advice is that we should all cherish and spend as much time with our families and make things right with God because life can be very unpredictable.”

Cudjoe’s sister Aiesha Samuel also gave remarks. She considered the mother of two, fondly called Beo, a vibrant, energetic, independent person who “hustle to make sure she got the dollar.”

Samuel said Cudjoe ensured that her children were always happy and fulfilled their needs.

“She was their lifeline, especially Levi, who many deemed as her eyeball. She was the proudest mother when it came to her so Levi and all his accomplishments. Aside from being an amazing mother, she was a very darling daughter, “Samuel said.

“She worked hard for the things she had — rearing animals, gardening, whatever it took to get the money because we all know Beo loved to dress.”

Samuel said Cudjoe wore the latest brand-named items as imitation was “a no-no for her.”

Pastors Mark David of the Siparia Open Bible Church and Kenrick Bowlah of One on One Ministries in Freeport officiated.

David said as a citizen, he was very concerned and incensed by the surge of violence and murder in society.

Referring to the scriptures, he added, “Like with Abel, the first murder victim in history, the blood of the innocent cries out for justice. Even though they are dead, they still speak.”

“We cannot undo what has already been done, and we may not have been able to avert this gruesome act. But we can do something within our own sphere of influence to curtail future upsurges.”

He urged people to guard their hearts and minds and purge themselves of all hot tempers like anger, loud quarrelling, cursing, malice and hatred.

“Instead, let us think about a culture of being kind to each other, sympathetic, forgiving each other as God has forgiven us through Christ.”

Bowlah urged mourners not to let the double murder be in vain and give their lives to God.

The mother and son were buried at the Batchyia Cemetery nearby.

Cudjoe’s other son, three, from another relationship, was asleep at home and was not harmed during the brutal attack. He was not seen at the funeral.

The day after the murders, a person of interest, accompanied by his attorneys, surrendered to police at the Homicide Bureau Region III office in San Fernando. Cudjoe had repeatedly accused him of abusing her and had a restraining order against him. He was not seen at the funeral.

On Sunday afternoon, the police released the man without charge.

Investigations are ongoing.