Mar 27, 2013 News
By Leon Suseran
Yesterday slain U.S. Army Doctor, Max Kungel, was laid to rest at Number 72 Village, Corentyne. But his murderer has not been caught, more than a week after his bullet-riddled body was discovered in a rented vehicle in the Number 71 Village rice field backlands.
During an exclusive interview with Kaieteur News, the man’s relatives, including his mother and one sister, have heavily criticized the local police for not getting to the bottom of the gruesome crime so far and they [the relatives] are insisting that law enforcement officials from the United States get involved immediately.
Also, there appears to be a family that is divided and family members cannot see eye-to-eye with each other on issues regarding the Army doctor’s last rites. His mother, Gopattie ‘Lovelyn’ Kungel, speaking to the media for the first time on the issue said that one of her daughters and a grandson were trying to prevent her from gaining access to her son’s body for preparation of last rites.
“I didn’t have no say—these people take away my son—pressuring me that they want my son to be burned [cremated]—now I have to go down on my knees and plead to my daughter Anjie not to burn the dead and I cried and pleaded and talked, and then in the end we agreed”.
As indicated, they finally agreed that the doctor would be buried in Guyana, but are still having communication problems amongst themselves, and this is apparently impacting the investigations.
“It’s my personal stuff they[ the police] want to know— they are not questioning me about my son—they want to know how I am living with my husband, and how much children I have—personal things which they should not have asked me. Since my son passed away, I was waiting to hear from the embassy to come in so I can take the body back to New York.”
A few days after the murder, police arrested 28-year-old Omesh Thakurdin, Kungel’s cousin ,for questioning into the murder. Shockingly, Thakurdin hanged himself in the Number 51 Police Station lock- ups two Mondays ago. Kungel’s mother believes that he was “the wrong person”.
The man’s other sister, Anita Chunoo, claimed that officials from the U.S Embassy spoke with her and questioned the family about the man’s death. “He said that he [an Embassy official] was mixed up about the entire story…and they were investigating.”
Kungel’s mother is also upset that the police have not yet returned two laptop computers, several cell phones and US$5,000 that were reportedly seized from the home in which Dr. Kungel was staying (Lot 199) during his visit to Guyana a few weeks ago.
“They seized his U.S. Passport and U.S Army Card and other documents. Unto this day they cannot give us back those things. I think that is very bad. The police don’t want to work with us—they are asking us our personal life in New York—my brother get murdered—work on that! Those questions have no relevance—it’s only left for him to ask me how many times I sleep with my husband,” Anita Chunoo lamented.
“Every day they get us at the station, doing thumbprints, [and] fingerprints—I think this is the wrong step the police are taking…they are supposed to be very supportive of us,” she added.
The mother stated that the property at Lot 199 Number 72 Village belonged to her husband, who passed away two years ago, and that Dr. Kungel had wanted the property, for which she has all the necessary documents.
“He and Anjie wanted it….which family doesn’t have any ups and downs—everybody has ups and downs,” she stated. “I found evidence (a phone card) that they went to a lawyer in Corriverton to transfer house and land”, she claimed. But that, she stated, would have had no impact of her losing the house and land, since she has legal paperwork showing her ownership.
The family believes the entire murder was planned and orchestrated.
“This was planned for him…these persons knew everything. When he came out, where he would have gone, how much money he got, what paperwork was doing? The paperwork that said that he was taking care of the property.”
Call for overseas help
“We do need overseas help – we gotta get the Americans involved in that. We don’t trust these cops here—and he is a military member and I want the military to get more involved, because I am not satisfied and the police in Corriverton are not cooperating enough and not doing the work that they supposed to do, so we need the U.S to come in here and assist and we are begging for this. We don’t know what to do, because the police are not working with us.”
She showed Kaieteur News a signed Will and Testimony from Dr. Kungel, which he prepared in December 2004, requesting that his body be handed over to the School of Medical and Science of Learning Proposal, Drexel University in USA for scientific studies and research, and insurance monies from which he requested be donated to charity. It therefore pains her that the body would be buried in Guyana.
“We really need the Americans to come in here and step in and look into this—it’s a murder case—they can’t just put it like this, they have to be— every day… something [should be] happening—go out and find the killer!”
The family also said that they heard that the U.S. military had sent a casket and other funeral material to Guyana, but have not seen any of this thus far.
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