– cadaver dogs may be the answer, as search resumes for woman who vanished in 2016
By Michael Jordan
They dug in a locked and empty shack. They dug in a bushy backland area on the East Bank of Demerara. They have checked on the vast, sandy area off the Soesdyke/ Linden Highway.
But they still haven’t found Shawnette Savory.
On August 30, 2016, 37-year-old Shawnette Savory left her apartment at Lot 222 Last Street, Prospect, East Bank Demerara, to pay her electricity bill. She returned home, only to go out again.
She has not been seen since. Police have received information, which suggests that Savory was murdered and her remains buried.
They have been given various locations as to the whereabouts of her corpse.
In December 2016, police dug up areas around a locked and empty shack at Belle West, West Bank of Demerara. They found nothing.
Kaieteur News understands that investigators resumed the search last week for Savory’s remains. They have reportedly searched many areas without success.
Savory is just one of several people who police believe were murdered and their corpses buried. With the establishment of a Cold Case Unit, which is likely to renew interest in such cases, there is need for the Force to be equipped with the tools to locate the ‘missing dead’.
Cadaver dogs may be one answer.
‘Cadaver dogs’ also known as human remains detection dogs, are trained to sniff out and locate human body parts, tissue, blood and bone.
Labrador retrievers and German shepherds are the breeds most commonly used as cadaver dogs. These specially trained dogs are also used to locate bodies of victims of disasters, such as plane crashes or drowning.
A dog’s sense of smell is estimated to be somewhere between 100 and 1,000 times greater than a human’s, depending on the breed. It is said that well trained cadaver dogs can smell human remains under 30 metres of water, or tiny human bones or even a drop of blood.
Data on these animals state that their ability to detect these scents may depend on the kind of soil in which the remains are buried, how tightly it’s packed, and how long the remains have been there.
One of the cases in which cadaver dogs could be useful involves the suspected murder of 11-year-old Nordex Wilkinson, who disappeared without trace on May 18, 2004. Nordex and her two other sisters, Keasha, aged nine, and eight-year-old Kimberly, lived in Pattensen, Turkeyen, with their father, Victor Simmions. Relatives alleged that the child was badly beaten and her throat slashed shortly before her disappearance. They claim to have seen the father fetching the badly injured child out of the house.
That was last time anyone saw Nordex Wilkinson. Her father has also reportedly disappeared.
Relatives searched the area but failed to locate the child.
At around two o’clock in the afternoon on Friday, August 9, 2013, Lance Corporal Patriena Nicholson left her post at the Police Mounted Branch. It is claimed that she told her colleagues that she was going “to wash,” while others claim that she told them she was heading home to drop off a package. Then she disappeared.
At the time, Patriena was in a relationship with Royston Waldron, the ex-policeman who was later implicated in the murder of schoolteacher Nyozi Goodman, whose remains were later found on the East Coast of Demerara.
Waldron was arrested in connection with Patriena Nicholson’s disappearance, but was released after 72 hours. He was never rearrested. Nicholson was never found.
MISSING U.S. CITIZEN
Tracker dogs, and cadaver dogs, could also have helped detectives to locate Kwame Rumel Jobronewet, the 67-year-old US citizen who vanished in June 2009. He reportedly disappeared in Buxton, after returning to Guyana to visit the home of his recently-deceased mother. Detectives later scoured the Friendship, East Coast Demerara backlands for the missing man’s remains but found nothing. There is no indication that tracker dogs were ever used in this case. The Force also does not appear to have cadaver dogs, which are trained to locate corpses.
Then, there is the mystery of the whereabouts of 19-year-old Heraman Sahadeo.
On December 17, 2002, the 19-year-old carpenter, popularly known as Sadesh, asked his mother, Radha, for money to go into Buxton to collect his wages.
Although concerned for his safety, Mrs. Sahadeo eventually gave him $60 for the journey to and from Buxton.
At around 15:45 hrs, the woman’s telephone rang. The caller reportedly told Mrs. Sahadeo that he had her son.
With that, the caller put Heraman Sahadeo on the line.
Mrs. Sahadeo had time to hear her sobbing son say “Mommy?” before the caller came back on the line.
The man then informed Sahadeo that her son had been kidnapped. She was told that she would have to hand over $5M if she wanted him released.
The carpenter was never seen again.
There is also the still-missing Guyana Energy Agency employee LeVoy Taljit, who disappeared on December 23, 2012.
Taljit’s vehicle was found about a week later in a track off the Soesdyke/Linden Highway. Though a suspect was questioned, the 25-year-old’s whereabouts remain unknown.
OVERSEAS HELP NEEDED
Dogs have been helping the Guyana Police Force in crime –solving for some 53 years. According to information compiled by the late Assistant Police Commissioner John Campbell, the Force enlisted its first police dog in 1960. That dog was ‘Rio’, a fully-trained canine who was handled by Corporal 5083 Williams. He was reportedly bred here and helped solve many criminal cases. Rio died in service on September 13, 1965.
Bruce, the offspring of Rio followed in 1961. In 1964, Sergeant Robert Ling, a special dog trainer from Surrey, England, came to British Guiana with six dogs imported from England. He stayed for a year and trained local police ranks as dog handlers. Some of the dogs were Byrn, Vince, Ross and Warren.
According to Mr. Campbell’s research, in 1974, Warren and his handler assisted in the longest manhunt in Montserrat. The German Shepherd and trainer are said to have played a major role in the capture of a Montserrat criminal known as ‘Fine Twine’.
But while the Guyana Police Force’s Canine Division now has dogs that are trained to sniff out firearms and narcotics, the Force has never had canines that were trained to locate bodies.
With the setting up of its Cold Case Unit, the Force now needs these dogs and trainers (perhaps temporarily on loan from overseas) more than ever.
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