By Michael Jordan
When I went prowling around Quamina Street many years ago where she had once lived, not a single soul had anything bad to say about old Miss Dorothy King. She was kind, some said, she reached out to the less fortunate, others recalled.
But the cynics like to say that no good deed goes unpunished, and back in 1999, there was someone who had it in for 84-year-old Miss King.
A lot has changed in Quamina Street since then. For one thing, the huge, sprawling colonial-style house which was Dorothy King’s last home has been torn down. That old house had a certain touch of grandeur about it; fitting, I guess, for someone of Dorothy King’s background.
Dorothy Rosabelle Napleton King was born on March 22, 1913 and was the daughter of the former Governor of Her Majesty’s Penal Settlement, Mazaruni (now the Mazaruni Prisons).
She spent most of her childhood there before heading for Georgetown, where she attended the Ursuline Convent School.
The young Dorothy King then attended school in London, England, where she was trained in ballet.
Returning to Guyana, King opened her own ballet school at the sprawling Quamina Street residence.
In 1942, she joined the teaching profession, becoming the Drill Mistress at The Bishops’ High School. King retired from the teaching profession in 1977, but continued to live an active life. She had a keen interest in art and Guyanese history and ironically, it now seems, was also a member of the Guyana Human Rights Association.
Like I said, the old house had a touch of grandeur. But it was not the sort of house in which an elderly woman should have lived alone. From reports, some of Miss King’s close friends had expressed concern about this situation, since that section of Quamina Street was crime-ridden then. But Miss King brushed off these fears.
It has been suggested that King’s days at Mazaruni had given her confidence to deal with criminals. It was said that on many occasions, she had actually encountered criminals at her Quamina Street home – she would patiently speak with them, and sometimes even offer them a meal before showing them to the door.
The retired schoolteacher had established a certain routine that some of her neighbours knew of.
At 17:30 hrs every day, she would always close two side windows at the eastern side of her house.
But at 18:00 hrs on Wednesday, January 27, 1999, a neighbour observed that King’s windows were still open. The neighbour called a guard who worked nearby.
The guard went over to King’s house and noticed that her front door was slightly ajar. He summoned a friend and neighbour of King’s. The friend arrived at 19:05 hrs and, on entering the premises, almost immediately realised that something was terribly wrong.
Miss King’s broken spectacles lay on the floor a short distance from the door. There were also spots of blood on the floor.
Summoning another acquaintance, the friend went further inside, and now the friend observed marks on the floor that led to the kitchen.
And that is where they found King. She was lying face down on the floor, with her hands outstretched. Someone had bashed in her skull. A piece of wood about 18 inches long was resting on her back. An autopsy would later reveal that she was also strangled.
Robbery was clearly the motive, since the house was ransacked. A safe that had contained valuables was open, and the contents were missing. There was no sign of forced entry, and it was surmised that she had opened her door for someone she had known.
King reportedly would look through her window when anyone rapped and then open the door, but only for people who she recognised.
From the blood and the smashed spectacles near the door, it was believed that King was attacked as soon as she opened the door.
Detectives immediately began enquiring about any unusual movements around the murdered woman’s house. They learned that on the Wednesday evening that King was slain, a known sex worker was twice seen rapping at the elderly woman’s door.
The detectives surmised that King might have let the young woman in and that the woman, perhaps with an accomplice, may have murdered King.
However, despite their best efforts, the investigators were never able to locate the ‘street walker’. Other sex workers reportedly went into temporary hiding for fear of being questioned.
There has never been an arrest warrant for King’s murder.
I had visited the area over twenty years ago when she was slain. I returned to the scene of Miss King’s murder a decade later because this was one of the cases that remains stuck in my memory.
One person in the area had hinted that the killer(s) might be from a neighbouring community. Pressed further, he said he had given a statement to the police back then and suggested that I check with them.
The killers were still around and he refused to say anything further, but gave the impression that he knew a lot.
Well, I guess I was hoping for too much. I guess that twenty years is too long a time to find out who entered that old house on that fateful Wednesday evening and killed a Governor’s daughter…
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 592-225-8458, 592-225-8465, 592-225-8482 or 592-225-8491. You need not disclose your identity.
You can also contact Michael Jordan at his email address: [email protected]
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