Residents of Cumberland Village, East Canje Berbice, were awoken to the shocking news of the murder of their fellow villager and popular businesswoman, Rhonda Blair.
As the news spread like wildfire across Berbice, many were still trying to come to grips with the tragic reports of the woman’s demise.
The 42-year-old retired teacher and mother of two, was stabbed to death by her 47-year-old husband Rudolph Blair called ‘Rudy’, who, after committing the act, ran to the back of a neighbour’s yard and shot himself. He is said to have also ingested a poisonous substance after fatally stabbing his wife.
The couple who owned a string of Stretch ‘D’ Dollar stores, lived at Lot 91 Coburg Street, Cumberland, East Canje. Police sources have revealed that sometime around 23:00 hrs on Thursday and 00:05 hrs on Friday at the aforementioned address, Rudolph Blair, in a fit of rage and frustration, stabbed his wife multiple times about her body.
He was believed to have been drinking prior to the incident as there were several Stag beer bottles found at the home.
The couple had originally lived together at Cumberland, but after the husband became abusive, his wife left their matrimonial home and sought refuge at a friend Jonelle Dover’s house, in Ithaca Village, West Coast Berbice.
It was between 21:00 hrs and 23:00 hrs on Thursday, that the businesswoman’s friend, with whom she stayed, spoke with her via cellphone. She had indicated that she was at her place of business, located at Pitt Street, New Amsterdam, and that her husband, Rudolph, requested that she uplift groceries for him.
After some time had elapsed, Dover made calls to her friend’s phone that went unanswered, Dover sensed something was amiss and immediately left her Ithaca home in search of her friend. She made a check at the Rosignol Branch of the Blairs’ business and while on her way, collected the couple’s son, Anthony Blair, and proceeded to the Cumberland property.
Upon arrival at the house, they called out for the woman and her husband but got no response. They then decided to lodge a missing person report at the Reliance Police Station around 23:30 hrs.
Two policemen accompanied Dover and the Blairs’ son back to the couple’s residence. During a search of the premises, Rhonda Blair was found lying on her back in a pool of blood in the yard. She was attired in a green long-sleeved blouse and a floral skirt.
Divisional Commander, Assistant Commissioner, Paul Williams who was at the scene of the crime, disclosed that it was a joint effort with authorities and relatives of Rudolph Blair in negotiating with him to surrender to police.
“We joined together and negotiated in terms of accessing the area. So I appealed to him; likewise his sisters and his nephew decided that they were going to go ahead and try to convince him to surrender. While going, they discovered his body motionless,” Williams said.
The commander stated that they were pleading with him to come out, but he responded in the negative, “when the relatives were going to go for him, he told them, ‘don’t come, I am okay’. He kept talking for a while until his voice faded and eventually stopped,” the Commander disclosed.
Rudolph Blair was hiding in a neighbour’s yard between some bush, while the area was cordoned off by police. Residents on the scene expressed their shock at the events as they unfolded. Some persons shouted “they always had money problems” and “he shouldn’t ah do this”.
Two shots were reportedly discharged by the businessman, a gunshot wound to his lower left ear and his chest were discovered, with a licensed .32 Taurus revolver lying beside his body.
Meanwhile, a reliable source told Kaieteur News that the businessman had always been threatening to kill himself, with the most recent threat being on Sunday last.
He reportedly confided in the source that he was desirous of selling his Pitt Street business to pay off his outstanding loans that were burdensome to his family. However his wife was not in support of this, she wanted him to keep the business going, even with them being buried in debt. They were reportedly going bankrupt.
He had reportedly told the source, with his licensed revolver in hand, that, “I get a mind fuh kick Rhonda from the step to the gate and kill mehself”.
The source stated that he tried to convince the troubled man that this was not the way to go. He said that Blair seemed normal throughout the week.
Meanwhile, both bodies are currently at the New Amsterdam Hospital Mortuary. A post mortem examination was conducted on Rhonda Blair’s body by government pathologist Vivekanand Bridgmohan, and it was revealed that she died of shock and hemorrhage due to multiple stab wounds about the body. In 2013, the Blairs, after moving from “rags to riches,” opened a $83M Supermarket at Pitt Street New Amsterdam. However, sometime in February 2014, hints of financial problems began to surface.
With a dwindling business, rumours circulated then, that Rudolph Blair had attempted suicide, but he quickly shut down that story, stating that he found solace with his God and would never resort to such.
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