The ‘bush’ is perhaps the easiest place to kill a man. Someone could stick a knife in your back and be long gone before they find your remains…if they ever do. That’s exactly what someone did with Ray Holder last month.
But his parents believe that his killers slipped up. His body was found, and the wounds on those decomposing remains told their own story of treachery in the gold-rich interior.
Ray Holder, from all accounts, was a hardworking and trustworthy individual, and around August last year, the 29-year-old from South Turkeyen, East Coast Demerara, landed a job with a miner who owned two dredges at Princeville, Potaro.
It seems that Ray quickly became such a great asset to the dredge owner that he was commonly referred to as his boss’s “right hand man”. But he did tell his parents something that they feel has some bearing on his fate.
Ray Holder confided that there was a young woman in the interior who had shown an interest in him. He even claimed that she had once rented a hotel room in Georgetown and invited him over. But Ray reportedly told his parents that he hadn’t responded to her advances, since he had a good relationship with the girl’s father. He was also wary of her ‘child-father’ and brothers.
Ray was at home on Mashramani Day when his boss called with instructions that he should return to the mining site. This he did that very night. His family received a message that he was in good spirits and planned to return in July for his mother’s birthday.
BADLY DECOMPOSED BODY
On the night of Friday, March 15, 2013, Ray Holder visited a shop on a hill in the Potaro area. A barmaid at the shop would later tell police that she saw him leave the night-spot. Police also received reports from two of the miner’s colleagues that they saw him enter a boat and head towards camp.
The Police Public Relations Department says that the boat, with a bottle of alcohol, was subsequently found, and that Holder’s decomposing body was found on Tuesday, March 19, in Garraway Stream, Potaro River.
Kaieteur News was told that the body bore no visible marks of violence and reports sent to the Mahdia Police Station suggested that police were dealing with a drowning.
Ray’s family received the news of his death from a driver who had taken him to Mahdia. They were also told that police planned to bury his decomposing remains near the mining camp and the Princeville Boat Landing.
The family was stunned. No one had informed them that he was missing. And now they were saying that he was dead.
They said the news was being casually tossed at them, “as if the people around him” equated him “to a stray dog, knocked down on the road and to be buried and erased from our minds.”
Why had no one from the dredge operation told them that their son was “missing?” Why had Ray’s employer, who had always maintained contact with them, and who had called at least three times on Mashramani Day for Ray to return to work, failed to inform them about Ray’s fate?
And now why this apparent haste to bury their son?
Suspecting that there was more to their son’s death than they were being told, Ray’s father and sister met with the ‘F’ Division Commander on Tuesday, March 19.
Family members said that the Commander reassured them that he had instructed a police corporal at Mahdia to delay the burial until family members arrived. They said they were also told that a medical team would fly to the location on Saturday, March 23 to conduct a post mortem. According to their statement, Commander Ramsey emphasised that only one family member could travel in with the medical team.
But before the planned visit, the girl who was allegedly attracted to Ray reportedly contacted the dead miner’s father by phone. She allegedly told him that two brothers and a friend had murdered Ray. That call was reportedly made on Wednesday, March 20.
HONEST ENOUGH TO ADMIT
“This was the first time that someone from the (mining) operation had spoken directly to us and she was honest enough to admit that Ray was murdered. This critical information was passed on to Commander Ramsey,” the parents said in a statement they gave me.
On Thursday, March 21, the same woman reportedly visited Ray Holder’s parents. She was said to have been accompanied by a man who claimed to be a police rank. That man reportedly told the family that he had heard that even Ray’s penis was severed and stuffed in his mouth.
According to the family’s statement, the woman attempted to give them over $100,000 that she said was owed to Ray for his work.
The parents said they refused to take the money, while informing the young woman that they would be travelling to Princeville to investigate all of Ray’s business and his murder.
“Dem turn up de music…and kill he…”
Since both parents were unable to fly in with the medical team, the couple decided to travel to Mahdia by bus. But by the time they arrived, Ray’s body had already been buried. The Police Public Relations Department told Kaieteur News that Holder’s body was too decomposed to be placed in the Mahdia Hospital mortuary, so, as is often the case with deaths in the interior, investigators opted to have his corpse buried with the intention of having it exhumed for a post mortem.
“Upon arrival at Mahdia, we were greeted by the widespread information that Ray was brutally beaten until he was black and blue; stabbed, his penis severed, and his body dumped. In the words of two young men, speaking to Ray’s mother, they said “Auntie, dem cruel yuh son…” the family said in their statement.
According to Holder’s father, he was also told that there was a loud argument at the shop that his son had visited on the night of Friday, March 15. He believes that his son was murdered that same night and dumped in an area near the Princeville Landing.
On Saturday, March 23, they visited the Mahdia Police Station, where a police corporal showed them cell phone photograph of what appeared to be Ray’s body. According to the parents, “Corporal (name given) further tried to convince us that he had drowned.”
But Holder’s parents said that when they arrived at the Princeville Landing with the medical team, they were again told by some residents that Ray had been murdered.
Away from the police and the medical team, a few older Amerindian women allegedly told Ray’s mother, Lalita, ‘Is right out here that dem turn up de music and beat yuh son and stab he and kill he’”.
BODY NOT MUTILATED
According to the family’s statement, the Medical Examiner (pathologist Dr.Nehaul Singh) observed two stab wounds on Ray’s body and also noted that his penis was severed.
“All this was in stark contradiction to the theory of drowning that the police were aggressively attempting to force down our throats.”
And indeed Holder had been murdered. The pathologist gave the cause of death as perforation of the lungs due to stab wounds.
But Police Public Relations Officer Ivelaw Whittaker says that the pathologist had never stated that the victim’s penis was severed.
The parents alleged that on the very day that they returned home, the young woman who had showed an interest in their son paid them a second visit. This time, she was accompanied by her ‘child father’ and another man.
According to the relatives, the visitors again insisted that Ray had drowned.
This angered Holder’s parents who asked their visitors to leave. It is alleged that at that point, the woman kept urging her ‘child father’ to “tell the people the truth”.
Ray’s parents said that they passed this information to the Divisional Commander, but to their disappointment, were told that this was ‘hearsay evidence.’
“To hear the Commander say that there is nothing that he can do, even with all the graphic and horrific evidence, and more information that we further provided…such words were most debilitating for the well-being of Lalita (Ray’s mother), “ the dead man’s father said.
“We have loved Ray for too long to allow his murder to go unsolved and tossed aside. We demand that a full-scale investigation be done.”
CASE NOT CLOSED
In 2013, police has insisted that Ray Holder’s murder was still under investigation. The Public Relations Department reported that Holder’s father had told the police that he had received information that two brothers from Princeville, Pomeroon, and a barmaid had knowledge of his son’s murder. Kaieteur News was told that investigators detained the barmaid for 72 hours but then released her without gleaning any information to assist them in the case.
About reports that a young woman had informed the parents of their son’s murder, the Police Public Relations Department responded that investigators offered to take the parents in a vehicle in an effort to question the girl. It was also stated that the parents were notified that ‘hearsay evidence’ was inadmissible, and what was needed was an actual eyewitness to Holder’s murder.
“We have no evidence that anyone saw when he was attacked,” a Public Relations official said.
As for motive, one suggestion is that Holder was the victim of a jealous individual. Another is that he was slain over a land dispute.
Based on information provided, police are said to be looking for two brothers who were allegedly at Princeville, Pomeroon, at the time of Holder’s murder. However, the individuals have reportedly left the area. They are said to be residing in Georgetown.
I managed to contact the young woman, who initially indicated that she would speak with me. She has since declined.
Meanwhile, Ray Holder’s parents have vowed to do their utmost to ensure that this does not remain an unsolved crime.
Expressing deep dissatisfaction with the police investigation, Ray’s father had said that the family intends to submit statements to the Minister of Home Affairs, Minister of Natural Resources, and the Commissioner of Police. He also said he had information about the identity of his son’s killers, and planned to submit this information to senior police and government officials.
“The family intends to seek justice by not allowing this matter to be tossed under the carpet,” they said in their statement. “We intend to seek the advice and assistance of as many appropriate persons as we can.” But that was almost seven years ago.
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