– family suspects foul play
The agonizing search for 14-year-old Dhaniram Ramgopaul ended in pain for his family when his body was fished out from a creek on the Linden/Sosedyke Highway, two days after he went missing.
The lad’s body was discovered by an employee of the nearby Splashmin’s Resort who immediately informed relatives who were in the Timehri area assisting the police in finding him.
While investigators have found no clear sign of marks of violence on Ramgopaul’s body, relatives are convinced that the young man was murdered.
Ramgopaul vanished last Sunday afternoon from a creek on the highway where he and other relatives went picnicking, when he went to use a nearby washroom.
The family believes that the teenager was abducted by a gang of young men and taken to another location where he was killed and then taken back to the creek and dumped.
They are basing their belief on the fact that they had combed a major portion of the creek and the surrounding areas for the greater part of two days and came up empty-handed. Ramgopaul’s body was found a few feet from where the family had been picnicking and where several other persons subsequently hung out.
Police have detained six persons, including a woman who lives in the area, and are reportedly receiving information that suggests that the teenager was murdered.
Kaieteur News understands that two of the persons in custody are known to Ramgopaul’s family, since they hail from the same East Coast Demerara village of Good Hope. There are reports that the teenager was seen with the two villagers shortly before he disappeared. Investigators are examining the theory that they had a hand in Ramgopaul’s death.
When this newspaper visited the home yesterday afternoon, the dead teen’s mother and father had just returned from the Timehri Police Station where the suspects are being held.
Several other relatives and concerned neighbours were there comforting them and assisting in setting up for a wake.
The teenager’s distraught mother Jankie Seetaram, fighting to hold back tears, recalled that on Sunday, her son spent about 10 minutes in the creek water and decided that he had enough since the water was cold.
According to the woman, about 17:00 hours when they were preparing to leave for home, the young man went to use a nearby washroom. After about 15 minutes had passed and Ramgopaul did not return, the family became worried and went in search of him. They combed the entire area for hours, not wanting to leave without finding the missing 14-year-old.
They eventually went home early Monday morning, but returned to the area a few hours later and resumed the search until 01:00 hour yesterday.
“We search all day, all night… searching new areas, chop down all dem bushes,” Seetaram said.
The family eventually received word that Ramgopual was seen with two young men from their village and they were directed to where one of the men was staying. They went, and with the assistance of a rural constable, the man was arrested and taken to the Timehri Police Station.
We know him; they’re from the East Coast, they normally sell CDs and they are living there now,” Seetaram said.
They later went with the police in search of other persons associated with the detained suspect and eventually rounded them up after a brief chase.
“Why they run if they were not guilty of something?” Seetaram asked.
Kaieteur News was told that one of the suspects claimed that Ramgopaul was with them in a house on Sunday night.
“He say that he don’t know exactly what these boys do to my son, but all he know that they join a bus together. They put he in a bus and they took he there; four of them sleep on a mattress. He said he left and went home to bathe and when he go back the afternoon, he didn’t see the boy, but the lady know about the boy,” the dead teen’s mother told this newspaper.
The woman the suspect was speaking about would normally harbour runaway children at her home in Timehri.
“We asked him if he give my son any water or anything to eat, he say no, they didn’t give him anything. I say even li’l water y’all didn’t give him and he say he don’t know wha’ de woman do with de boy,” Seetaram said.
She explained that the police subsequently went and arrested the woman, who denied any knowledge of the missing child.
Seetaram said that on Monday afternoon the police tried to search the woman’s house, but her husband prevented them from doing so.
According to Seetaram, persons had indicated that when they checked the woman’s outdoor bathroom it was locked and they heard a vibrating sound coming from inside, but the woman’s husband refused to allow them to open it.
“I call back my husband and told him about the bathroom, but when they returned to the house and made a check, it was empty.
“I don’t know if they move him (my son) out or what, because when my husband and the police came back, the woman husband say ‘y’all could check in de bush y’all gon find him’. And den dey cuss us and say ‘tomorrow morning y’all gun find he dead’,” Jankie Seetaram said.
That turned out to be true because when they returned to the Timehri Police Station about 06:00 hours yesterday, they received a telephone call that a body is in the water.
When they got to the creek their worst fears were confirmed. The body of Dhaniram Ramgopaul was seen floating in the waterway.
The woman said that when the body was pulled out from the water, she observed that there were black and blue marks on the torso, which suggested that the young man was beaten.
“The blood was fresh, the body was fresh, the tummy was just beginning to swell and the pirai eat on it. It had some black and blue marks on his neck,” Seeteram said.
The family believes that if the police had been forceful in searching the woman’s bathroom on the first visit to her home, there was a possibility that Ramgopaul might have been alive.
“I can’t understand why the police at Timehri did not search that bathroom. I am telling you that that boy was alive in that bathroom last night (Monday),” maintained a close friend of the family who was with them at Timehri yesterday.
The family believes that after Ramgopaul was killed, his body was taken back to the creek and dumped to make it appear as if he had drowned.
“We had about ten divers there, then we had a boat, we had a cast net. We search that area back and forth. The Amerindian man he did a good diving, he went to the corners them he self. They bring pitch forks to see if they would jam anything, and that body was not there. After that a set of people come and was in the creek and nothing come up,” Seetaram said.
The dead teen’s father, Kunjbeharry Ramgopaul, was too distraught to speak initially, but he is also of the opinion that if the police had responded promptly to the reports that they received, they could have saved the lad’s life.
He questioned why the police did not search the woman’s house when they went there first. He also questioned why the woman’s husband was not taken into custody also.
However, the police are awaiting the results of a post mortem examination as they continue their investigation.
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