Trinidad (Newsday) – A phone call from a woman with a Guyanese accent led police to a house in Gasparillo early yesterday morning. There they found the body of 69-year-old Andre Joachim, a retired electrical engineer.
He had been gagged with a bandana and duct tape, causing him to suffocate.
A woman, believed to be Guyanese, made a call to the Gasparillo Police Station at about 1.35 am. In her phone conversation, the woman told an officer her name, gave them Joachim’s address and said she was with him when three men stormed the house and demanded money.
She reported to the officer that Joachim refused and the men beat him before he was bound and gagged.
However, there was no sign of the woman or anyone else when police arrived at the house on Fifth Street, Springland, Gasparillo, at about 1.45 am, ten minutes after receiving the call. There was no sign of forced entry.
Instead, the officers found Joachim dead. His hands were tied behind his back, and his mouth was duct-taped.
Pathologist Dr Valery Alexandrov has told investigators Joachim suffocated after being gagged with a bandana, which his killers secured to his mouth with duct tape.
“It is a murder,” Alexandrov told Newsday, hours after performing an autopsy on Joachim at the Forensic Science Centre, St James. Alexandrov found the bandana inside Joachim’s mouth after removing the duct tape during the autopsy.
“A bandanna obstructed his mouth. It’s suffocation by gagging. He was gagged at first with a bandanna which slipped into his mouth and then they placed duct tape around it,” the pathologist said.
Joachim could have survived had he not eaten a heavy meal prior to the attack, Alexandrov observed.
“The gagging did not close the nostril. He was able to breathe, but he had a heavy meal prior to the attack and so when his mouth was gagged, the air supply was obstructed and he started vomiting. There was no way for the vomit to come out through the mouth,” he said.
“It couldn’t pass through the mouth so the food mass completely obstructed his nasal passage. No air supply through the mouth, no air supply through the nose. Internally all the signs were of asphyxia,” concluded Alexandrov.
The pathologist also said there were no marks of violence to indicate Joachim had been beaten or struck with any object. This differs from the report the mystery woman made in her call to the police in which she said three men beat Joachim. Neighbours confirmed a woman had been living with Joachim, saying she moved in with him about a month ago.
Before her, other women often visited Joachim’s two-storey house located in a secluded spot on Fifth Street in Springland. Neighbours said he also rented out rooms at his house.
Joachim’s van remained parked in front of the house on the road.
Neighbours recalled hearing dogs barking during the early hours of the morning.
A resident said, “That house was always frequented by women. He rented out rooms in his house for anyone who was looking for cheap space.”
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