By Michael Jordan
To find a killer, know the victim. That’s the advice a very good detective once gave me.
I’ve taken his advice. I’ve tried to find out as much as I can about Marlon Welcome. And guess where this has led me? It has led me to a possible motive as to why someone put a bullet in his head. And maybe, just maybe, it has led me close to identifying the person who planned the whole thing.
Here’s what happened on Tuesday, February 16, 2010.
At around 01:30 hrs that day an ex-soldier living in ‘A’ Field Sophia heard two loud gunshots. The sound had come from the home of his next door neighbour, Marlon Welcome, a 33-year-old mechanic who lived at Lot 192 with his niece, Enkeni Isaacs.
According to the resident, he heard Welcome’s niece scream out her uncle’s name. Shortly after, she ran outside and shouted that Marlon was lying motionless on the floor.
The resident and others entered the house, and sure enough, Welcome was lying on the floor just outside his bedroom. He was motionless and there was blood on his head. They took him to the Woodlands Hospital where he died shortly after.
When police visited the scene, they found that someone had removed a few louvre panes from Welcome’s kitchen window. It appeared that this was how the killer had entered Welcome’s home.
Crime scene detectives found some mud in the kitchen sink, which suggested that the killer had stepped on the sink after climbing through the window. A pipe outside the house near the same window was broken, and detectives believed that the gunman had stood on it to gain access to the window.
A relative says that police told her that a tracker dog they brought to the scene led them to a shop in Sophia, but they found nothing suspicious there. The slain man’s mobile phone was reportedly found outside his yard.
Enkeni Isaacs said that she had last spoken with her uncle at around 21:00 hours on Monday, February 15. The niece said she went to bed after indicating to her uncle that his cellular phone was left on the dining table. She awoke at around 01:30 hrs after hearing two loud sounds in the house and then heard her uncle groaning.
Ms. Isaacs said she ran from her bedroom shouting ‘thief’, and saw someone flee via the back door. She then stumbled over her uncle. Ms. Isaacs said she then raised an alarm.
But detectives felt that something wasn’t quite right about the scenario that was being related to them.
Because she was the only other occupant at the time of the killing, suspicion fell on Welcome’s niece. They detained her for three days. But they found nothing to link Ms. Isaacs to her uncle’s death.
Now the ex-soldier who lived next door to Welcome had told police that he believed that the sounds he had heard in Welcome’s house were gunshots. But for some reason, police did not think of swabbing any of the persons they questioned for traces of gunpowder.
Perhaps, like Welcome’s niece, who had described the noise as two banging sounds, they too seemed to believe the mechanic had succumbed to blows to the head.
Three days later, Government pathologist Dr. Nehaul Singh examined the remains and discovered that Welcome had been shot at close range at the back of the head. A .38 warhead was extracted from his skull.
But who could have killed Marlon Welcome, and why?
Just who might have done the deed came to light about three weeks after Welcome’s death.
Ballistics experts examined a .38 Taurus revolver that they had recovered from a house at Fourth Field, Cummings Lodge, East Coast Demerara, on February 20, after arresting four men in connection with four armed robberies in the community. It was allegedly the same firearm the suspects had used during their crime spree.
Those robberies occurred on February 20, four days after Welcome’s murder.
The ballistics experts compared bullets from the unlicensed firearm and the .38 warhead extracted from Welcome’s skull. They matched.
While the suspects were on remand on robbery and firearm possession charges, investigators questioned them about Welcome’s murder, but got nothing to connect them to the killing. Lawmen were baffled by the apparent absence of a motive. Robbery did not seem to be one. According to Welcome’s niece, she found $20,000 untouched in her uncle’s room.
Taking the advice of my old detective friend, I dug into Marlon Welcome’s background for a possible motive.
Family members of murder victims often say, ‘he had no enemies’ and ‘he was a decent man’, when in fact, the victim had several enemies and a long criminal record. But there was nothing of the sort about Marlon Welcome.
According to police investigators, the young mechanic had never been charged for even a minor offence. He was a Government Technical Institute graduate who had established his own workshop. A resident described him as one of the most decent persons in the neighbourhood. Another said he was a ‘peacemaker.’
His mother said that he was ‘like a godfather’ to underprivileged children in the community.
“The only fault that Marlon had was that he did not like to fail,” his mother recalled. “If he was working on an engine, and he was getting problems, he would lie down and then work again at midnight.
“Marlon was such a loving person. I don’t even think I ever saw my son vex.”
Revenge also did not seem to be a motive. Revenge killings often have a brutality to them; excessive gunshots or other wounds. That fury was absent in the Welcome murder. I’m sure that were I to ask my FBI-trained detective friend, he would say that this was the act of a cool and calculated killer.
But eventually I stumbled upon a possible motive.
Apparently Welcome was in the habit of keeping large sums of money in his house, and someone had taken advantage of this situation. According to a close friend, the mechanic had confided that this individual had recently stolen $80,000 from his home. He reportedly even identified the suspect.
According to the friend, Welcome suspected that the same individual had stolen from him before.
The close friend, and another individual, also said that shortly before his death, Welcome confided that he was preparing to buy a property in Sophia. He had $300,000 that he would have used as an advance payment on the property. That money, if it indeed existed, has reportedly not been accounted for.
They have suggested that this individual planned Marlon Welcome’s murder and recruited someone to kill him.
And indeed, there are several puzzling things about this case.
Why did the killers take the risk of killing Welcome in his home, when it would have been so much easier to kill him in his yard? After all, he was in the habit of working late into the night in his workshop. Indeed, he had worked late into the night some hours before he was murdered.
In fact, why kill him at all, if they were just after his money? Was a decision made to murder him because the mechanic would have been able to connect the gunman to the person who was allegedly stealing from him?
Why were the intruders apparently so certain that they could enter Welcome’s home without alerting him? How did they apparently know where his bedroom was located?
Welcome’s mother said that he sometimes slept in the living room after watching television. So why was he found lying on the floor outside his bedroom? Is it possible, as his mother has suggested, that he awoke and recognized the intruder who then shot him?
But how did the killer manage to shoot him at such close range?
And if indeed money was stolen, the intruder(s) would have had just a few seconds to shoot him, grab the money from his room, flee through the back door, and scramble over his fence, even if they knew in advance where Welcome’s valuables were. How did they manage to do this?
If indeed two shots were fired, why did police fail to find any trace of the second bullet?
Marlon Welcome’s mother was unhappy about all these questions, since they brought back unwanted memories of her son’s death. She preferred that I left things to the police, and let justice eventually take its course.
“Whoever took my son’s life, I wish that with the same speed that they killed him, that God will take theirs the same way.”
Welcome’s niece told me that she too was eager to assist the police in every way to apprehend her uncle’s killer.
“Whatever it takes to solve this I will help. This was a cold-blooded murder.”
Meanwhile, I’m still following up on this intriguing case. And I somehow suspect it may not be as complex as it seems.
If you have any further information on this case or any other, please contact us at our Lot 24 Saffon Street, Charlestown office or by telephone.
We can be reached on telephone numbers 22-58491, or 22-58473. You need not disclose your identity. You can also contact Michael Jordan at his email address: [email protected]
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