By Michael Jordan
If you were to visit Bartica, you would see an ancient, half-sunken vessel jutting out of the river, in the vicinity of Triangular Street.
It was a ship of secrets, some say; a haven for rapists and lost drug addicts.
The rotting remnants of that ‘steamer’ also hold the secret of a dark deed that four drunken, drug-crazed men allegedly committed eleven years ago.
The person at the centre of this diabolical act was 38-year-old Jean Khan, a quiet, easygoing individual who lived at Carabeese Hill, Bartica.
She was childless, and worked as a cook at the popular Harbour Cove Hotel in First Avenue.
This meant that she sometimes worked at night, and, though the community was relatively crime-free, some of her relatives were concerned about her safety on the ‘graveyard shift.’
Indeed, one night, when Jean was heading home to the family’s former residence on Fifth Avenue, a group of men had tried to accost her. She had barely managed to escape to the safety of her home.
According to relatives, Jean would have another encounter with these same men, but with tragic consequences this time.
On Sunday, June 10th, 1996, June slept at her boyfriend’s home in Third Avenue. She returned home the following day, then headed for work at the Harbour Cove Hotel.
She worked until 9:00 pm, but stayed on at the hotel with friends.
It is alleged that during the night, easy-going Jean was joined at the hotel bar by four men whom she knew. Some reports suggest that two of the men were her former boyfriends.
According to reports, Jean eventually became intoxicated as the men plied her with liquor.
Eventually, she left with one of the men, who had a bicycle. It is said that by then, she was so intoxicated that she twice tumbled off her companion’s bicycle.
A relative of Jean Khan said that sometime that night, one of her sons, who was eleven at the time, spotted four men near the riverside. The men appeared to be searching for a bunch of keys, and made remarks about ‘enjoying themselves.’
At around 8:30am the following day, some residents who were bathing near at the riverside were shocked to see the battered body of a woman lying on the old, half-sunken ‘steamer’.
They were even more shocked when they realized that the dead woman was hotel cook Jean Khan.
The victim was still dressed in the black skirt and white blouse that she had worn the night before, but was barefooted.
Someone had clubbed her in the head, knocking out some of her teeth in the process. An autopsy would later reveal that her neck was also broken, although it was believed that this occurred when Jean’s killers threw her corpse onto the vessel.
Detectives who scoured the scene located the victim’s underwear, slippers and umbrella in a clump of bushes nearby.
They also found liquor bottles and a drinking glass, which were checked for fingerprints.
Detectives eventually arrived from Georgetown to assist in the murder investigation.
The investigators were informed about the drinking spree the previous night at the hotel.
They also received reports that persons had seen Jean Khan arguing with the man who had carried her on his bicycle.
The detectives soon rounded up the four men with whom Khan was seen drinking the previous night.
It was alleged that the four suspects were habitual drug users.
During their investigations, detectives even arrested a suspect in the 1991 murder of a sex worker, and it even appeared that the suspect might be linked to Jean Khan’s death.
However, after weeks of investigation, those leads petered out and all the suspects were eventually released.
No one else was ever arrested, despite promises of a reward by the Bartica business community.
A relative of Jean Khan is convinced that these are the men who killed her sibling.
She alleged that some of the men had even attacked a detective who came from Georgetown to investigate the case.
But according to her, fate has not been kind to the suspects.
Two of them have since died, while the other two are now drug addicts, whom she occasionally sees.
But still, after over a decade, no one really knows for sure who lured Jean Khan to the sinking ship of secrets so long ago.
If you have any further information on this incident or any other interesting case please write to us or contact us by phone on 22-58465, 22-58491 or 22-58458.
You can also contact Michael Jordan via his email address: [email protected]
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