Patricia James was an attractive 19-year-old student of the Cyril Potter College of Education when she married Police Corporal William Henry in December, 1996. He was in his thirties. They had no children and lived in West Ruimveldt.
At around 09:00 hrs on Saturday, October 9, 1999, several residents heard two gunshots. The sound came from the couple’s home.
Detective Corporal Henry would later tell investigators that he was washing some clothes outside of the house when he heard the shots. He then ran inside and found his wife lying lifeless on the couple’s bed.
An unlicensed handgun was in one of her hands and there was a bullet hole in her head.
Corporal Henry contacted his colleagues and informed them of the tragedy.
Police investigators placed the dead woman’s hands in plastic bags to preserve any gunpowder residue, before having the body removed. They also ‘bagged’ Corporal Henry’s hands and escorted him to the East Ruimveldt Police Station.
There are reports that the weapon with which Patricia James had been shot was seized during a raid on the East Coast of Demerara.
When one finds someone dead with a bullet in the body and a gun in one hand, suicide is usually the first thought that springs to mind. But Patricia James’ relatives were sure that the young teacher hadn’t taken her own life.
One family member who entered the house shortly after the woman’s death said that he saw three half-packed bags with Patricia’s belongings nearby. She had also told a close family member that she had received death threats. A similar report was also allegedly made to a group that assists battered women.
According to this family member, Patricia had slept at a friend’s house on Friday, October 8, 1999, the night before her death. This friend reportedly brought her home next day.
While the forensic investigators found no trace of gunpowder residue on Patricia James’ hands, their tests indicated that there was gunpowder residue on Corporal Henry’s hands.
Investigators sent their report to the then Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Dennis Hanomansingh.
According to reports, the DPP was preparing to recommend that Corporal Henry be charged with murder, when Henry’s attorney dropped a bombshell.
He informed the DPP that the test that the forensic team had used was an outdated and unreliable one. In fact, scientists had discovered that the “dermal nitrate test” or “paraffin test,” was so unreliable that international forensic experts had abandoned it.
The seasoned legal expert told the DPP that the evidence would not stand up in court. Local forensic experts reportedly now use a more internationally accepted test for gunpowder residue.
Presented with this information, the DPP had no option but to inform the investigators that Henry could not be charged.
But a relative of Patricia James says that they were promised that an inquest would be held into her death. That has not been done.
Relatives of Patricia James still want to know how she ended up dead, and who took her life.
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