It was a sunny Friday in February 1998, a typical day for 22-year-old taxi driver Davo Narine. His parents asked him to pay an electricity bill and so he left his home at about 14:00 hours to go to a Main Street, Georgetown office.
He told his parents that he was going to make his taxi rounds after paying the bill.
But Narine, of 193 Thomas Street, Kitty, never returned home.
When he did not show up, his worried family began to search for him but to no avail.
The following day, they informed the police and ranks joined the search.
After three days, Narine’s car was found aback of the South Dakota Circuit, Timehri, after the family received an anonymous call which informed them that it was there.
The car had been stripped of its wheels, music system and battery. Scouring the area, detectives found the wheels and other missing parts from the vehicle.
Suspecting that Narine had been kidnapped, detectives tapped the family’s phone in case the kidnappers called to demand a ransom.
Meanwhile, detectives, family members and friends continued to search for Narine.
The ransom call never came and the police were left with no leads or evidence to arrest anyone. Refusing to give up hope, relatives kept up the search for months.
They were still searching for Narine when another taxi driver was reported missing.
BLOOD ON CAR SEATS
Kissoon Persaud, 47, disappeared on August 23, 1998 after leaving his Hadfield Street home for the Demico car park where he operated his taxi. His crashed vehicle, with blood on one of the seats, was found at the junction of the Soesdyke-Linden Highway shortly after. A sawn-off shot gun was also found in the car.
An intense search involving police, concerned citizens, relatives and even tracker dogs was launched for the missing man. But Kissoon was not found.
Then in September, a woman informed police that a male relative of hers, who was also a taxi driver, had been missing since August 20, 1998.
She identified the missing man as 31-year-old Leroy Mentis, called ‘Tony’ or ‘Dougla.’
The woman urged detectives to seek assistance from the Guyana Defence Force to solve the mystery and find the other missing taxi drivers.
According to the woman, Mentis had left his home at around 09:30 hrs for his base at the Georgetown Hospital car park on Thomas Street and was not seen since.
It was reported that his car was found abandoned at the back of Friendship Village, East Bank Demerara with the license plates changed.
Relatives, friends and police searched for the missing taxi drivers day after day. Police began to wonder whether one gang was behind the disappearance of all three drivers.
As investigations continued, police thought that they got a breakthrough in the case when, in mid-September 1998, a taxi driver came to them with a bizarre story.
The driver, 20-year-old Haimwant Ramkissoon alleged that he was driving near Linden when a man, who was in a police uniform complete with beret, stopped him and asked to see his documents.
Ramkissoon claimed that the ‘policeman’ ordered him out of the car and he then saw a woman and two men approaching.
The driver said that the ‘policeman’ then sprayed something in his eyes that made him drowsy.
Ramkissoon said that he was blindfolded and his hands were tied behind his back.
He said that his abductors pushed him in a vehicle and drove for about 15 minutes. They then stopped the vehicle and robbed him of his valuables.
Shortly after, he said, he was ‘chucked’ up a flight of stairs at which time he heard a male voice pleading to go home.
According to Ramkissoon, someone broke a bottle and the voice stopped.
He said during the time he was held hostage he heard several voices arguing about cars and about what to do with him.
According to Ramkissoon, after three days, the kidnappers, who had kept him blindfolded, drove him to a deserted area and left him there.
When he thought it was safe, he took off his blindfold and sought help.
Ramkissoon’s damaged car was found at the Ruimveldt Industrial Site.
His police report offered a glimmer of hope to the relatives of the missing taxi drivers.
Police conducted searches in the area where Ramkissoon claimed the kidnappers had left him, but found no clues.
By then, investigators had begun to question several suspects in the kidnapping.
Relatives of the three missing men were offered a bit more hope when a wanted man who was the prime suspect in the kidnappings was apprehended in Suriname.
The suspect was a young prisoner, who had escaped from the Camp Street Prison while serving a 12-year term for armed robbery and murder.
The fugitive, along with two women, was arrested in Suriname for crimes that were committed in the former Dutch colony.
The two-month search for Kissoon Persaud ended tragically on October 1, 1998 when his skeleton was found in a sand-pit near the Soesdyke/Linden Highway.
The remains were found at around midday about 400 yards off the Soesdyke/Linden Highway on the northern side, approximately one and a half miles from the Soesdyke junction.
Kissoon’s wife, Lilawatie, who had spent many agonising hours searching for her husband, identified the remains by a gold tooth on the left side of his jaw, a wrist watch which was found partially buried in the sand some distance from the skeleton, his belt and one of his shoes.
The woman had also recognised her husband’s shirt which was also nearby, although it was quite faded from exposure to the elements. An autopsy revealed that he had been shot.
Kissoon Persaud’s wife had said that the man who was arrested in Suriname confessed to shooting her husband.
Soon after, two men were charged with Kissoon Persaud’s murder.
Their Preliminary Inquiry (PI) commenced at the Providence Magistrate’s Court.
The matter was subsequently dismissed because the prosecution did not have enough evidence to commit the men to the crime.
Meanwhile, police and relatives continued to search for the other missing taxi drivers.
Bones near the South Dakota Circuit
In January 1999, some woodcutters were working in the forested area aback of the South Dakota Circuit when they came across some bones. They were not alarmed, but upon taking a closer look they realised that they were looking at the remains of a human. They quickly called the Timehri Police Station.
After months of hopeless searching, the Narines got a call from the police informing them of the discovery.
Narine’s father, Bob, went with the police to the scene where he identified the skeleton by some of the teeth. He also identified a checkered shirt, a pair of jeans and a pair of brown footwear near the remains. The father recalled that his son was wearing these same garments the day he disappeared.
Police confirmed that Narine had been shot once between the eyes, with the bullet exiting the back of his head.
The skeleton was found in the bushes about 200 feet from where Narine’s car was discovered.
“He had his ways…He used to do the taxi thing for fun,” Narine’s brother, Sham had recalled. “All de time we did searchin’, we never gave up hope that he was alive,” he added.
His brother believed that a particular gang was behind the kidnappings and killings.
He also reasoned that the people would kidnap the taxi drivers, kill them, and then use their cars to commit robberies.
According to Narine’s father, Bob, investigators went to Suriname to question the prime suspect, who denied knowledge of the murders.
The suspect was eventually jailed for 30 years in Suriname over a shooting incident.
At the end of his sentence, he will be handed over to Guyanese police.
The question the Narines ask is: what was the motive for those brutal killings?
No one was ever charged with Davo Narine’s murder.
Meanwhile, the body of Leroy Mentis was never found.
If you have any information about these or any other unusual cases, please contact Kaieteur News by letter or telephone at our Lot 24 Saffon Street, Charlestown office. Our numbers are 22-58458, 22-58465, 22-58473 and 22-58491. You need not disclose your identity.
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