Two days after she was brutally murdered, allegedly by her husband, police on the East Coast of Demerara recovered the decomposing body of 50-year-old Joan Durant from a shallow grave in her Melanie Damishana house.
The police were directed to the shallow grave late yesterday afternoon by the woman’s husband who had been in custody since she was reported missing by her son on Tuesday night.
Police found the woman’s body buried in sand in what appeared to be an unfinished bathroom in the three-bedroom single-flat house.
This was despite a thorough search that was conducted on Wednesday that came up blank. “De man dig and dig and dig and put she in deh and cover it back and put back a set a old wood pon top. De only way people woulda find she was when she start smell,” the woman’s brother, who saw the body, told Kaieteur News.
According to the brother, Durant appeared to have been struck on her head with a hammer or a heavy metal object, since there was a deep laceration to her forehead.
Durant had not been seen or heard from since she and her husband had a heated argument and fight at their home in Melanie Damishana – North, on the East Coast of Demerara.
Her husband had told investigators that the woman had packed a bag and walked out of the house after their quarrel. In fact he too had made a missing person report to the police at the Vigilance Police Station several hours after the fight.
But the woman’s sons and other relatives were convinced that something terrible had happened to her and that her husband was responsible. Even neighbours of the missing woman were fearful that a bad fate had befallen her. Several calls to Durant’s cellular phone had gone unanswered.
“She is not a person who would leave just so and don’t make contact with nobody,” one neighbour told this newspaper yesterday.
One of Durant’s sons, Gregory Perreira, who works as a gold miner, related that on Tuesday morning he contacted his mother on her cellular phone, informing her that he was on his way out from the interior.
“I call mom when I reach Linden and ah tell she dat how I coming home. She tell me when I reach by me grandmother I must call she,” Perreira said. The young man, who does not live with his mother, told this newspaper that when he arrived at his grandmother’s house, also in Melanie Damishana, he called his mother’s phone again around 1pm (13:00hrs).
“The last words I hear from she is ‘ah coming!’ After den I can’t get back no contact with she,” Perreira added.
He said a few hours later his aunt enquired from him if he had seen his mother and he answered in the negative. At the time he was of the impression that he might have missed his mother when she visited his grandmother’s house while he was out for a short while. But when he was told that she did not show up, he became worried.
Later that evening he went to the house his mother shared with his stepfather and after rapping repeatedly on the door, his worry increased when he got no answer.
Perreira said that he went over to the immediate neighbours and enquired about his mother’s whereabouts. What he heard “buckled his knees.”
“De lady tell me dat she ain’t see me mother but dem de hear a fighting in de house earlier. Dey hearing dat me mother holler ‘loose me hand’ and after den dey hear mom just hollering fuh ‘help, help’ and dem ain’t hear back nothing more,” Perreira said.
He told this newspaper that he later learnt that his stepfather was in the house when he was rapping earlier but the man did not answer.
He based his conviction on the fact that his stepfather’s minibus was parked a few yards from the gate. Perreira went back to his grandmother’s house and related his experience.
Together with other relatives, he and his grandmother returned to his mother’s house, where they again made enquiries about her whereabouts.
“When we go back, lights done deh on inside de house… When I went fuss no light wasn’t on. I see me stepfather, now, and I say ‘man whey me mother deh?’ He say me mother pack a bag and beat out. I tell he me mother would never do dat when she know I deh waiting pon she,” Perreira recounted.
The family then made their way to the Vigilance Police Station to make a report. But Durant’s husband went ahead of them in his minibus and he first reported the woman missing.
Police after receiving both reports, took the woman’s husband into custody.
“Fuss, dis man tellin de police dem dat he and me mother didn’t had no fight. When I go back to de station de next morning, he tellin de Sergeant dat he and me mother had a scuffle. How you gun say one thing de night and den say something else de next day?” Perreira reasoned.
“I tell de officer ‘dis man gat fuh find whey me mother deh; and he gun gat fuh know whey me mother deh too’. All ah dem deh in dis thing,” Perreira declared.
When this newspaper visited the missing woman’s home yesterday, it was shut tight and neighbours indicated that the police had advised that no one should enter.
One neighbour who did not wish to be named informed this newspaper that the couple would normally quarrel which would sometimes lead to fights. The neighbour said that on Tuesday, around midday, the couple was having one of their usual fights when she heard Durant cry out for help.
“We hear ‘Bradam! Bradam!’ dey start licking down and so… like somebody fell on the floor. While they fighting, I hear she shout fuh de big lady ‘Waveney, Waveney’ and that was the last voice we heard from her,” the neighbour told Kaieteur News.
The woman said when they did not see Durant for that day, they were not too alarmed since the couple fought regularly. It was not until Durant’s son came looking for her that they realized that she was not seen since the argument earlier that day.
She said that since the woman was reported missing, her husband appeared confused.
“He was sitting by the door and like he was confused, frustrated, like something had happened. He was worried,” the neighbour said.
The woman insisted that Durant was still in the house since according to her, at no time did she see Durant leave the house. But she also did not see any suspicious movements.
“Police came yesterday (Wednesday), but I was upset because they shoulda come with a dog. At least the dog woulda give some idea. If he kill she, de dog must smell,” the neighbour told this newspaper.
A senior police official had told this newspaper earlier yesterday that they had searched the house and found nothing suspicious.
Kaieteur News learnt that the police had even searched the septic tank in Durant’s yard and several other yards for her body.
But even when the police appeared to have given up the woman’s family did not. They continued to search even in some of the most unlikely places.
Then late yesterday afternoon the woman’s husband, buckling under the pressure of being in custody for an extended period, confessed to killing her and gave police clues as to where he had hidden her body.
As news of the find spread through the community, several residents converged on the scene. Most of them expressed anger that the woman had met her death in the manner that she did. They also betrayed their anger by banging on one of the police vehicles which they thought was transporting the killer from the scene.
Although there are clear signs of violence on the body, investigators will be anxious for the results of a post mortem examination which will be performed today.
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