by Michael Jordan
Twenty-six years ago on Good Friday, someone murdered a 19-year-old security guard named Monica Reece, and left her body on Main Street, after it fell, or was dumped, from a pickup.
Twenty-six years later, two Police Commissioners have died, three have retired; four Crime Chiefs have retired, and two others have been transferred to other areas on the Force.
Last Good Friday passed with police officials unable to say whether there is still an active investigation into Guyana’s most sensational murder case.
“I can’t tell you”, was the response of one senior official from CID Headquarters, Eve Leary.
What is perplexing is that three years ago, police had appeared quite upbeat about finally revealing the name of Reece’s killer.
In July 2016, former Crime Chief, Wendell Blanum revealed that police had reopened their investigations into the April 1993 murder.
Even from the outset, they had identified a prime suspect: a young man from an affluent and well-known family. He also had a pickup that appeared to match the description of the one that was seen speeding up Main Street after Reece’s corpse fell, or was dumped, onto the roadway.
They had appeared to be so close to making an arrest that the suspect had to inform the police whenever he was travelling overseas.
“There is an individual that is being pursued and that is why the investigation was reopened,” a source had told Kaieteur News
Reece’s mom, Shirley Reece, was contacted and reassured that the investigation was still active.
But all this came with a troubling disclosure.
On August 26, 2016, Acting Commissioner of Police David Ramnarine told journalists that “an unprofessional course of action” took place at the time when the investigation was ongoing.
The investigation was placed in the hands of the much vaunted Major Crimes Unit, whose ranks had solved several cold cases, including the killing of Babita Sarjou.
But then came whispers that all was not going well with the investigation. Kaieteur News understands that at present, there appears to be no active investigation. There has been no explanation over why the case has been stalled.
Meanwhile, Crime Chief Wendell Blanhum has been transferred out of the Criminal Investigation Department. Some ranks from the major Crimes Unit, including its head, have also been transferred out of that Unit.
Reece, a Loss Prevention Guard Service employee, was slain on the Good Friday night of April 9, 1993.
A post mortem revealed that she was badly beaten and had suffered a broken jaw.
Police questioned several individuals and impounded several vehicles that fit the description of the pickup from which Reece’s body was dumped.
A timeline of Reece’s movements that day revealed that at around 13:00 hrs, David McKenzie, Operations Manager of the Loss Prevention Guard Service, visited Reece at the Ministry of Health in Brickdam, where she was scheduled to work.
According to McKenzie, Reece told him that if a man by the name of ‘Mark’ called for her at the office, he must tell ‘Mark’ to take lunch to her worksite.
Reece also told McKenzie about her relationship with a man who drove a 4×4 pickup, who she claimed was in love with her.
Reece also handed McKenzie a piece of paper with several names and a telephone number. The security official recalled the name ‘Mark’ on the paper, but he could not recall the telephone number or what he had done with the paper Reece had given him.
McKenzie later dropped Reece on his bicycle to a phone booth at Regent and Hinck Streets. That was the last time he saw her alive.
Between 16:40 hrs and 17:00 hrs, Reece informed Mark Torrington, a security guard, that she had a date with “a Chinese man” from Mc Doom, East Bank Demerara. She told him not to be surprised if he heard she was dead.
At 18:30 hrs, she left Kalian Yard at Lot 240 Camp Street. She changed out of her security uniform and was wearing a white T-shirt and black tights.
At 19:15 hrs, she was seen by Special Constable, Linden Samuels entering the Brickdam Police Station compound. She was allegedly crying and about five minutes later, she was seen entering a black Pathfinder parked near the station.
At around 20:30 hrs, she visited Charles McAllister, a driver, at a Church Street disco. She reportedly left, returned and then walked west along Church Street.
Then about 22:05 hrs, a woman saw Reece’s body falling out of a pickup in Main Street.
The case was labelled by some as a “high society killing” because all of the suspects were from affluent families.
One senior detective who was part of the 1993 investigative team told Kaieteur News that “a number of things obstructed us.”
“It was never intended for it to be a straightforward investigation. Where the obstruction came from, I don’t know, but there are some who knew where the obstruction came from.”
Other investigators said that a prime suspect was taken into custody but was never fully interrogated. A pickup that this suspect allegedly drove on the night of Reece’s murder was impounded, but was reportedly released without being checked for possible forensic evidence.
Commissioner of Police Laurie Lewis was at the helm of the Force when Reece was slain. Lewis had held monthly press conferences in which he had updated on the investigation. This had upset some of his detectives, who felt that too much information was being divulged to the public and to those responsible for Reece’s death as well.
However, former Crime Chief, Alvin Smith had expressed confidence that the case can still be solved.
“I honestly believe that something will break. Somehow, I believe that it will happen. My grounded belief is that the evidence is there. The evidence is alive. It comes to my mind often, after all these years. I think that the person (killer) is alive and that the evidence is there,” Smith said.
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