By Michael Jordan
I really thought I had heard the last about Yvette Lall; and if you have to ask who Yvette Lall was, then you probably weren’t around 15 years ago. She was a pretty, 29-year-old seamstress who lived in Unity Street, La Grange, on the West Bank of Demerara.
Back in October1993, someone strangled Yvette, gutted her with a knife like she was some huge fish, stuffed and tied a crankshaft and a slab of concrete in her empty stomach, then dumped her in the Demerara River.
They caught a fisherman who they said was the killer. He’s on death row now. Case closed…or so I thought.
But a couple of months ago, I spoke to Ganga Deolall at the Georgetown Hospital, where he was undergoing surgery.
Ganga Deolall is the guy whom the police identified as the ‘crankshaft murderer’, as we called him back then.
But Deolall told me that he hadn’t killed Yvette Lall. He said that the real killers were still out there.
You know what they say about every man on death row being ‘innocent’. But something about Deolall’s story intrigued me. But let’s go back to what happened in 1993.
Yvette Lall was a 29-year-old woman with a six-year-old son. She worked at Wilsun’s Garment Factory in Industrial Site, Ruimveldt, and lived with a sister at Unity Street, La Grange. Lall’s husband lived in Venezuela, and she had hoped to join him there.
On Saturday, October 16, 1993, Yvette left for her Industrial Site, Ruimveldt workplace. According to her employer, Roger Philips, she left the worksite at around 5:00 pm. According to a friend, she joined a bus and headed for home.
A mini-bus driver and a friend later stated that Yvette disembarked from the bus, at around 6:30 pm, at the head of Unity Street, La Grange. But Yvette Lall never reached home.
Three days later, a group of fishermen got the shock of their lives when they spotted the body of a woman on the La Grange foreshore.
It is not that the fishermen had never seen a body before, but they had never seen one in such terrible condition.
The victim’s head was in a plastic bag, and her hands were bound; and that was not the worst of it.
Someone had slashed the woman’s stomach open and removed her intestines and other organs. That person had then placed a crankshaft and a huge concrete slab in her stomach, tied them in place with bits of rope, and then submerged the victim into the Demerara River.
Somehow, the corpse had washed up on the mudflats, revealing to everyone the river’s grisly secret.
An autopsy would later reveal that the victim was strangled.
From all appearances, she was in her twenties and was of Amerindian ancestry. Eventually, the victim was buried without being identified.
No one thought that the victim might be Yvette Lall, although she had not come home for three days, and had not attended work.
Yvette’s sister assumed that she was at relatives in Albouystown, while her boss assumed that she was merely absent.
All that changed when the sister contacted the relatives in Albouystown and realised that Yvette Lall was not there.
The relatives also learnt that Yvette had disembarked from a bus in La Grange on October 16. That set them thinking about the body in the river.
The sister went to the La Grange Police Station, and they showed her a piece of clothing that was found with the corpse. The sister told the police that the garment looked like Yvette’s.
The description given of the body fitted that of Yvette Lall, who had recently cut-curled her hair. Identity was reportedly further confirmed by fingerprints that were taken from the corpse.
Now that it was established that Yvette Lall was the mutilated mystery woman, suspicion fell on a 33-year-old fisherman, who was her neighbour.
The suspect, Ganga Deolall, lived at Lot 11, Unity Street, La Grange. He was married and had fathered three children.
There were reports that Deolall had made sexual advances on Yvette Lall, and even had a photograph of her.
On October 26, police arrested Ganga Deolall.
A younger brother of the suspect was also shot in the hip, allegedly after attacking a police rank with a knife during their investigation.
A few days later, detectives stated that Ganga Deolall had signed a caution statement which indicated that he had sexual intercourse with Yvette Lall in the vicinity of a koker in La Grange. It is alleged that Deolall claimed that the young woman had succumbed during their sexual encounter.
On a rainy day on November 3, 1987, Ganga Deolall appeared in the Georgetown Magistrates Court before Chief Magistrate K. Juman-Yassin, charged for the murder of Yvette Lall.
During the brief hearing, the Chief Magistrate was moved to remark that whoever killed the young woman did not deserve to live.
Although Deolall’s attorney claimed that the statement was signed under duress, the document was admitted during his High Court trial. On November 22, 1995, Deolall was found guilty and was sentenced to death.
Like I said, case closed; that is, until, from his hospital bed, I received Deolall’s version of the events.
Ganga Deolall admits that he knew Yvette Lall well. He described her as a “nice, good-looking girl.”
According to the death row inmate, he visited the home regularly, but had never made any advances on her.
“They used to come by we (home)…we used to live like family,” Deolall says.
He alleges that on the day Yvette Lall disappeared, the woman’s sister had visited his home. He claimed that he followed the sister home at around 9:00 pm.
He claimed that when the body was found, his brother was holding a religious function, so he never saw the corpse.
Ganga Deolall says that he had accompanied Yvette Lall’s sister and others to La Grange Police Station, when it was realized that Yvette Lall was missing.
But after the identity of the victim was confirmed, the police immediately took him, a woman and others into custody. They also shot his brother, Deolall said.
The death row inmate alleges that some detectives, whom he named, subjected him to a beating. This included blows to his scrotum, which he claims remains damaged to this day.
In fact, Deolall alleges that the surgery he recently underwent was for the removal of his damaged testicle.
The death row inmate claims that, after being repeatedly beaten, he eventually signed the statement which implicated him.
He says that after he was found guilty, he wrote to President Bharrat Jagdeo to proclaim his innocence.
However, on February 2000, a warrant was read for him and three other death row inmates to be hanged.
Nevertheless, he was granted a stay of execution.
So, if Ganga Deolall didn’t kill Yvette Lall, who are the real killers? According to Deolall, he received information, while in prison, that Yvette Lall was slain by three villagers.
Unfortunately, the ‘suspects’ now reside overseas, leaving him to take the rap for the murder of Yvette Lall, and to be stuck with the label of ‘crankshaft killer.’
If you have any information on this case, or any other, please contact us at our Lot 24 Saffon Street office.
You can also call us on telephone numbers: 22-58465, 22-58458 and 22-58491.
You can also contact Michael Jordan at his email address: [email protected]
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I have been doing columns since 1988. I have been a major columnist with the Catholic Standard, Stabroek News, Kaieteur... more