By Michael Jordan
On Saturday, April 12, 2003, 16-year-old School of the Nations student Roy Bell and a brother entered a car outside the family’s Lot 178 Sunflower Circle, South Ruimveldt home. They then headed to a city school, where they picked up Roy’s girlfriend. Afterwards, the brother dropped off Roy and his friend at a fast food outlet on Vlissengen Road.
At around 13:30 hrs, Roy Bell and the female friend caught a Route 40 bus and headed to the East Bank Demerara bus park, where the girl joined another bus. Roy reportedly told his girlfriend that he was heading home. He never turned up.
Later that day, the phone rang in the Bells’ South Ruimveldt home. When a family member picked up the phone, the unknown caller stated that he had kidnapped Roy Bell, and demanded $10M for his release. The ‘kidnapper’ gave the family 48 hours to deliver the ransom. The family also received detailed instructions as to how the cash was to be delivered.
It is believed that Roy Bell had identified himself to his kidnappers as Roy Joseph, since the kidnappers had reportedly asked to speak with the boy’s mother, whose maiden name was Joseph.
Roy’s uncle, the then Region Eight Chairman Senor Bell, said that the lad’s father, who ran a mining concession, came out of the interior shortly after learning of his son’s abduction.
Meanwhile, the Regional Chairman notified Home Affairs Minister Ronald Gajraj and a senior member of the Opposition of his nephew’s abduction.
Approached by the press, Bell’s relatives declined to comment, saying that they feared that newspaper reports of the abduction would further endanger the teen.
By Monday, April 14, the Bells had accumulated the ransom money. That night, a family friend, who was chosen to deliver the money, left home in a white Toyota Corolla. Persons purporting to be the kidnappers kept in constant telephone contact with the family friend.
The kidnappers instructed the man to first drive around the city. The friend claimed that someone drove behind him constantly. He was then ordered to leave his car, with keys in the ignition, in Craig Street, Campbellville.
On Tuesday, April 15, Senor Bell came to the Kaieteur News Saffon Street office and spoke with me. Just as the interview ended, I got a call that a body had been found on the northern parapet of the Turkeyen, East Coast Demerara public road.
There was nothing unusual about that call. It was the period of the ‘crime wave’, as we still call it, when seldomly a day went by without an execution or a mass killing.
I went to the scene and saw a slightly-built figure in short pants on the parapet. The face and upper body were covered with a suitcase. I took the photograph and went home.
It was not until the following day that I learnt that the victim was Roy Bell. I was shaken by that revelation. I had never dreamed that the kidnappers would kill a schoolboy, and in such a cruel fashion. They had gagged him with a piece of cloth, believed to have been torn from his jersey. There were bruises on his body that suggested that he had been beaten. His shoulder blades had been broken. His neck also appeared to have been broken.
An autopsy would later show that he died from suffocation.
Detectives recovered the white Toyota Corolla that was used to drop off the ransom in Prashad Nagar. The vehicle was checked for fingerprints and other clues. They found nothing to indicate who the kidnappers were.
In hindsight, Senor Bell felt that an effort should have been made to trap the kidnappers when the ransom was being dropped off. No attempt was reportedly made to trail the kidnappers, because the family had feared that this would have further endangered the abducted teen.
Mr. Bell suggested that his nephew was killed because he could have identified his kidnappers. “They felt that they had to kill him because they had kidnapped him in the day and he saw their faces.”
He ruled out any suggestion that his nephew had been slain by someone with a grievance against the family. He described the Bells as law-abiding individuals.
“We don’t do or carry drugs; my nephew didn’t drink or smoke or do drugs. We handed over the ransom in good faith. Those people have no heart.”
At the time, Mr. Bell repeatedly vowed that the deed would not go unpunished.
God…how time flies. That was 15 years ago, and we still don’t have a clue who killed 16-year-old Roy Bell, and why they did that pitiless deed, in that period of unprecedented cruelty.
If you have any information about this or any other unusual case, please contact Kaieteur News at our Lot 24 Saffon Street, Charlestown location. We can be reached on telephone numbers 592-225-8458, 592-225-8465, 592-225-8491 or 592-225-8473. You need not disclose your identity. You can also contact Michael Jordan at his email [email protected]
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