By Michael Jordan
“One of these days, I gun tell you something about Monica Reece that gun shock you,” the senior police official said to me.
It was December 27, 1993, eight months after Reece had been murdered and this policeman, who had at one point been at the forefront of the investigation, was about to tell me something new.
We were on Mandela Avenue, collecting bottled water at Banks DIH Limited and I had gotten him started on Reece after bringing the case up.
He had hinted something to me before, when we—the police and the media—were following the Reece case like we had never pursued a case before or since.
To use a term Commissioner Laurie Lewis was fond of using, the police seemed to be “leaving no stone unturned” to catch Reece’s killer.
Forensic pathologist Dr. Leslie Mootoo’s detailed autopsy report had established that Reece had suffered a savage beating, which left her with a broken jaw and other injuries, before she was unceremoniously dumped in Main Street.
The autopsy also showed that she had sexual intercourse some hours before she was slain.
Going further, Dr. Mootoo collected pubic and other hair samples from Reece’s remains.
These, and samples from the pickups police had impounded, were reportedly sent overseas.
Several weeks after she was killed, Reece’s body was exhumed and more samples taken. These, too, were reportedly sent overseas.
The results, according to police, were all “inconclusive,” leaving detectives no closer to catching the killer.
And some would argue, and some did, that Reece’s lifestyle made it harder for the investigators to track their man down.
A detailed investigation revealed that the pretty 20-year-old security guard had several dates on the Good Friday on which she was slain.
David Mc Kenzie, operations manager of the Loss Prevention Guard Service, said that at around 13:00 hrs on Good Friday, he visited Reece at the Ministry of Health in Brickdam, where she was detailed to work.
According to Mc Kenzie, Reece said that if a man called ‘Mark’ called for her at the office, he must tell ‘Mark’ to take lunch to her worksite.
Reece also told Mc Kenzie about her relationship with a man who drove a 4×4 pickup, whom she claimed was in love with her.
Mc Kenzie claims she also handed him a piece of paper with several names and a telephone number. The security official told investigators that he remembered the name ‘Mark’ on the paper, but he could not recall the telephone number or what he had done with the paper Reece had given him.
Mc Kenzie later dropped Reece on his bicycle to a phone booth at Regent and Hinck Streets. That was the last time he saw her alive.
Between 16:40 hrs and 17:00 hrs Reece informed Mark Torrington, a security guard, that she had a date with a Chinese man from Mc Doom. She told him not to be surprised if he heard she was dead.
At 18:30 hrs she left Kalian Yard at Lot 240 Camp Street. She had changed out of her security uniform and was wearing a white T-shirt and black tights.
At 19:15 hrs she was seen by Special Constable Linden Samuels entering the Brickdam Police Station compound. She was allegedly crying and about five minutes later she was seen entering a black Pathfinder parked near the station.
At around 20:30 hrs she visited Charles Mc Allister, a driver, at a Church Street disco. She reportedly left, returned, and then walked west along Church Street.
At about 22:05 hrs, June Ann Holland of Tiger Bay saw Reece’s body falling out of a pickup in Main Street.
At least 27 pick-ups were impounded by police and 200 persons were questioned.
But all this brought the cops no closer to solving the case.
Police also announced a $100,000 reward for information on Reece’s killer.
There were no takers.
Commissioner Laurie Lewis and many investigators felt that the media speculation about who the killer was and why Reece was slain was scaring away eyewitnesses.
And speculation aplenty there was. One of the stories was that Reece might have been killed because of her knowledge of a 117-pound cocaine bust on a GAC plane in the US in March of same year.
Then there was the sudden demise of a street character named ‘Tourist.’
‘Tourist’ used to hang out in Main Street and he died a few days after Monica Reece. There was speculation in the press that he was slain because he knew who had killed Reece and had been talking too much.
The police insisted that ‘Tourist’, who was suffering from tuberculosis, died of natural causes. One senior officer feels that the stress of seeing the incident caused ‘Tourist’ to collapse.
Despite the Commissioner’s pleas, there was also speculation in the press about the killer’s identity.
Some suggested that she was killed by a rich city businessman’s son, and some stories suggested that he could be identified because his pickup made a distinctive noise.
Others speculated that she had been beaten to death with a baseball bat by the owner of a city disco.
Reporters were even going into Tiger Bay at night digging for clues.
In the presence of their colleagues, police investigators would insist that they did everything they could to catch the killer. But those who confided me said they were unhappy with some aspects of the investigation.
Some detectives felt that too much information was being fed to the media at the Commissioner’s monthly press conferences. Others felt that some superior officers were deliberately leading them “in another direction” when they came forward with what seemed to be clues leading to the culprit.
One of the investigators confirmed that there was a persistent rumour that a son of a very senior police official might have driven the pickup from which Reece was dumped. The investigator says that this lead was checked out and the official’s son was cleared.
Some senior police officers expressed the view that valuable time and resources were being wasted on a case involving a female of Reece’s character.
And then gradually, the press, the police and the public lost interest in Monica Reece.
But then a couple of things happened.
Some months after Reece was murdered, I appeared with a few journalists and Reece’s mother, on a television talk show which highlighted the unsolved case.
A few days later, I was ‘invited’ to CID Headquarters, Eve Leary, by an official who wanted to know if I had any helpful information. I said I did not.
Now, this was one of the officials who was very unhappy with the media’s scrutiny and he said something that startled me.
“You know this is a solved case?” he said.
But he said nothing more.
Then we had this chance meeting on December 27 on the West Ruimveldt ‘back road,’ where we had both gone to purchase bottled water.
“Anything new on Monica Reece?” I asked.
The official sucked his teeth and said: “I wish we could just forget she and bury she. When you live by the sword, you die by the sword.”
“But it’s a human being,” I replied.
“Yes,” he agreed. “And y’all want we fuh clean up the mess she lef behind. One of these days, I gun tell u something about Monica Reece that gun shock you.”
And he proceeded to tell me his theory about what had happened that Good Friday night.
His belief is that the Reece case is no murder.
He believes Reece was having an affair with a married man, or a man who had another woman.
He believes that Reece was pestering this individual and during an argument, she accidentally fell out of his pickup and succumbed from her injuries.
He would tell me nothing about the man’s identity. We never spoke again about the case. He has since retired.
I put forward the official’s theory to one of the detectives who had initially spearheaded the investigation. He insists that Dr. Mootoo’s autopsy shows that Reece was beaten to death and succumbed before she was dumped from the pickup.
So who killed Monica Reece?
Detectives believe that the man whose pickup seems to match the numbers June Holland saw is their suspect. One investigator says despite his denials, there is evidence that he knew Reece. The investigator laughs, but does not confirm or deny suggestions that some persons tried to protect this individual.
And to this day I find myself asking: Did he really kill Monica Reece? What drove him to this brazen act? Does he sometimes feel a tinge of remorse, or even a stab of dread, when he passes through Main Street, or if he sees someone resembling her, or if someone mentions her name?
But I my heart I believe that he just thinks: I killed a woman…dumped her in a public street 15 years ago. Try all you want.
You can’t touch me…
An eyewitness comes forward
Since I began this series on Monica Reece, a few people who were in Main Street on that fateful night have contacted me, though they insist on remaining unidentified.
One man reported that he and his girlfriend were walking near the Tower Hotel when he heard a screech of brakes and then a sound which suggested that there had been a collision.
He then saw a dark-blue pickup (or a pickup with a dark colour) in the vicinity of Geddes Grant Limited.
Then a destitute, who was lying on a bench in the walkway just opposite the incident said: “A girl get knock down. (I suspect that this destitute was ‘Tourist’).
The man said he then went to the scene of the ‘accident’ and saw a young woman lying on the roadway. She had on a tight black skirt and white top.
She was motionless and there was blood on the roadway near her head.
“A guard from Tower (Hotel) run across and he said ‘she done dead,’ the man recalled.
By then, the pickup had driven off. He insists that the vehicle turned east into Middle Street.
Shortly after, he says, two young men on motorcycles came up.
“I told them (about the pickup) and they tried to pursue it but it was too late.”
According to the man, on his girlfriend’s advice, he declined to contact the police.
The ‘eyewitness’ says his girlfriend—now his ex-girlfriend and who is currently living overseas—recorded a portion of the pickup’s licence number.
Rumours that persons who knew a little too much
were ‘silenced’ have made him fearful of divulging this information earlier and he still has no intention of going to the police.
“I don’t want to be in the firing line,” he says.
If you have any information on this case please contact Michael Jordan on [email protected]
Your identity will be withheld.
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