By Michael Jordan
It was nightfall on Sunday March 10, 2002, and popular Albouystown businessman Errol ‘Taps’ Butcher, survivor of many scrapes, was standing outside his America Street business place when a white car drove up to him.
Several gunshots rang out, and 55-year-old Butcher collapsed to the ground with four bullet wounds to the stomach. Four other bullets pierced the left side of his car.
Butcher was rushed to the St. Joseph Mercy Hospital. To prevent other attempts on his life, guards from a private security firm were placed at the hospital’s door.
However, despite the best efforts of his doctors, Butcher died three days later without regaining consciousness.
Detectives would establish that the murder weapon was a 9mm pistol. They would check Butcher’s cell phone and would question a South Ruimveldt resident with whom ‘Taps’ was embroiled in a property dispute. But Butcher’s death remained unsolved.
The execution-style killing of ‘Taps’ Butcher was the first of a string of brutal unsolved killings that had nothing to do with the unprecedented wave of killings that was spawned by the February 23, 2002 escape of prisoners Dale Moore, Shawn Brown, Andrew Douglas, Mark Fraser and Troy Dick.
It would soon become evident that some criminal gangs were waging their own vendetta under cover of the carnage started by the escapees, and had started a crime wave of their own.
On May 5, 2002, just two months after Butcher’s death, Sean Osbourne, Butcher’s 27-year-old son, was standing on the sidewalk outside his Barr Street, Albouystown residence when the occupants of a car shot at him.
Two bullets struck Osbourne in the back. Luckily, he survived the ordeal. But another sibling was not so lucky.
On Monday, July 15, 2002, Butcher’s 24-year-old son, Oyama Kyte, was riddled with bullets by a group of men in a white car. Some eyewitnesses indicated that Kyte had spoken to the occupants of the car before he was shot.
On May 7, 2002, 37-year-old Mark Franco, who had recently returned from overseas, was travelling in a car with two other men on Mandela Avenue when the occupants of a white car drove up alongside their vehicle.
Several gunshots erupted and Franco was mortally wounded. His companions, Osmond Forrester and Junior Callender, called ‘Baby Junior’, were also injured, but survived.
At around 20:45hrs on Friday, August 31, 2002, Michael Allen, 20, of Charlotte Street; Tony Evans, called ‘Buns Eye,’ of South Ruimveldt, and a third man were standing outside a shop at the corner of James and Hunter Streets, Albouystown, when four men, with guns drawn, walked up to them and opened fire at close range.
Allen and Evans were shot in the chest and head, and died on the spot. Their companion fled, but another man who was standing nearby was shot in the hip.
Six weeks after the double-execution, Joel Evans, a nephew of Tony Evans, was about to purchase bread at a Ketley Street bakery when two men walked up to him.
One of the men drew a handgun and shot Evans in the leg. The wounded Evans managed to flee into Howes Street, Charlestown, but the gunmen pursued him and shot him in the head. But the killings were not confined to the city.
On Sunday, August 6, 2002, Quincy Mc Donald, called ‘Cayenne’; Gary Major, Marsha Semple and Ina Vermeeren were travelling in a car along the Cummings Lodge Railway Embankment when the occupants of another car drove up to the Toyota Marino the friends were in.
As the strange vehicle sped past, the occupants opened fire, riddling the Marino with bullets and killing Ina Vermeeren. Mc Donald, Major and Semple, were also wounded.
Mc Donald would later disappear from the High Dependency Unit of the Georgetown Hospital, where he was being treated.
Police would subsequently state that one of the occupants of the car was a friend of Wesley Hendricks, called ‘Little Mate’, who had been slain earlier in the year. And the killings continued into the new year.
On Thursday, July 27, 2003, Wayne Norville, a vendor of Hill Street, Albouystown, sent a nephew to buy cigarettes. The nephew returned with the cigarettes and left Norville standing on his back stairs talking with another man.
Seconds later, the nephew heard gunshots and the nephew heard Norville cry out that he had been shot. With gunshots still erupting, the wounded man managed to flee into his home, where he collapsed on his bedroom floor. Residents took Norville to the Georgetown Hospital, where he died shortly after.
There was another unusual case in which a Norton Street youth, Roy Chan, narrowly escaped being executed outside his home. He fled to Trinidad, but the killers trailed him there and gunned him down shortly after.
Rumours persist to this day that some of the killings were done in retaliation for the theft of the contents of a safe.
Some investigators said that the safe contained a huge cache of cocaine, while others said that it contained high-quality plates for a counterfeiting ring.
It is alleged that the perpetrators refused to hand over the safe’s contents, and paid the ultimate price.
But this has never been proven; and, six years later, the mystery killings continue, with no sign of abating.
If you have any information on other unsolved cases, please write to us at our Lot 24 Saffon Street address, or contact us on telephone numbers 22-58465, 22-58458, or 22-58491.
You can also contact Michael Jordan on email address: [email protected]
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