Tarodale man chopped to death days after release from prison

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

DISTRESSED: Cleopatra Blaize speaks with Newsday about the chopping death of her friend Dareem Hamilton and the loss of her Marjorie Street, La Romaine home to fire which was allegedly set by the killers. – Photo by Marvin Hamilton

THE burnt body of a man was found in a house which was destroyed by fire in La Romaine during the early morning hours on Wednesday.

However, what at first was presumed to be a case of a tragic death caused by the blaze turned into a murder investigation as firemen and police both noted clear marks of violence, specifically chop wounds, on the man’s body.

The fire is now being treated as arson.

Police said after the fire at the house on Marjorie Street was put out at 1 am, the occupants found the badly burnt body of Dareem “Max” Hamilton, 31, who had been visiting the owner, Cleopatra Blaize – his ex-girlfriend. Newsday was told that Hamilton had been released from prison on January 1. Blaize and six other relatives were left homeless after the blaze.

Police said Hamilton, of Thompson Gardens in Tarodale, was released after serving six years on conviction for robbery.

As she sat near the ruins of her four-bedroom home on Wednesday, Blaize said when the family was alerted to the fire, she assumed everyone who was inside had managed to escape.

“We did not hear screams. Even outside, we did not hear any screams to alert us that he (Hamilton) was inside still. That is why I know he was dead before the fire started. The whole night saw me crying,” Blaize said.

Police are working on several theories including one that Hamilton confronted intruders and was chopped to death and the house was set on fire to make it look as if he died from the flames.

They said they got information that just before the fire, people were seen in the area armed with guns, cutlasses and one holding a flambeau.

Blaize said that on Tuesday morning a brawl had taken place and the police were called in. She said people hit her and she hit them back during the melee. She said Hamilton was not involved in the fight.

She said she later went to the San Fernando General Hospital to get a medical report to give to the police. Hamilton accompanied her to the hospital and then to the police station, where she dropped off the medical report.

The house at Marjorie Street, La Romaine which was set ablaze after 31-year-old Dareem Hamilton was chopped to death. – Photo by Marvin Hamilton

“I told him not to come home by me and to go to his home (in Tarodale) because it was getting close to midnight. He still came, because like he was still in love with me. I gave him some food and went to the shower,” Blaize said.

She said her boyfriend, who lives with her, was at home listening to music.

Unaware that intruders may have been in the house, Blaize said her boyfriend went outside while she was in the bathroom, and it was he who first saw the house was on fire and raised an alarm.

She said Hamilton’s death has left her deeply distressed.

“He did not deserve to die like that. I saw the body in the gallery area later. He was lying face down.

“I am deeply saddened because I lost a good friend. The house and contents are material things, but a life has been lost,” she said.

When Newsday visited Hamilton’s home in Tarodale, his relatives declined to comment.

The body was later removed to the Forensic Science Centre in St James for autopsy. No one has been arrested.

Southern Division detectives and officers from the Homicide Investigations Bureau (Region III) are investigating the murder.