In what could be described as one of the most gruesome murders in recent times, the body of an 18-year-old receptionist was found early yesterday morning in a cemetery at Triumph, East Coast Demerara (ECD) with her face bashed in and the skin ripped from it.
The gruesome discovery was made around 07:00 hrs, just two days after she was reported missing.
The victim has been identified as Ranella Benfield of Lot 99 Canterbury Walk, Beterverwagting, ECD. She was found lying on her back with her hands on her stomach. The flesh on her face was exposed.
Investigators believe that Benfield might have been struck in the head with a heavy object. Up to press time, they were combing the scene, looking for sharp objects which could have been used to disfigure her face.
Ranks are also looking at another theory, suggesting that her face might have been damaged by animals. “It’s hard to think some animal just destroyed her face and no other part of her body,” an investigator opined.
The receptionist, who was employed at Qualfon, was clad in a white jersey and blue jeans, which was pulled to her knees, exposing her white underwear.
“Her underwear was intact, just her jeans pulled down a little. It could be she was raped and the individual put back her underwear on her or it could be the individual did not get a chance to rape her…a Post Mortem will tell us what happened,” a source said.
Benfield’s boyfriend is among five of her male friends who were taken into police custody for providing ranks with conflicting information.
Kaieteur News was informed that the teen was last seen around 18:00 hrs on Saturday by one of her colleagues. It is suspected that she might have been killed the same night since persons in the area reportedly heard a screaming in the vicinity of the cemetery.
According to information received, it is a private cemetery used by the Muslim community. There are reports that the graveyard is always secured with a padlock but there is a space between the gates, in which persons can enter.
Investigators say that Benfield could have either entered on her own will or was dragged into the yard by her attacker(s). If it is that she was forcefully taken to the graveyard, detectives believe more than one persons might have been involved.
Michael, a friend of the deceased, said that the receptionist was among a group of friends who were planning a night out to Mahaicony but cancelled at the last moment after she had to work a little late on Saturday.
Her friends include Stephen Phillip, Abeanna Harris and Aresh Harris who died in an accident at Mahaicony while returning home from a pool party.
Meanwhile, when this newspaper visited her home yesterday, her parents, Monette and Rensford Benfield were at the police station.
Neighbours said that the teen was a ‘quiet’ and ‘friendly’ person who would have celebrated her 19th birthday in a few days.
Benfield’s murder comes one week after the lifeless body of 22-year old Marissa Fraser was found dumped in a trench at Number Five Village, West Coast Berbice (WCB). Oudit Persaud, 38 years, of No. 4 Village, WCB, has since been charged with the murder.
And, on November 5, last, school teacher, Kescia Branche of First Street, Cummings Lodge, was found unconscious at the junction of Princess Street and Louisa Row. She died shortly after. Taxi driver, Matthew Munroe was charged almost a month later with her murder.
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