San Fernando Mayor Marlene Coudray has spent the better part of her life trying to provide a safe environment for her two daughters, Michelle and Marsha. Yesterday, she had to face the most heart-breaking task a parent could ever undertake. Coudray yesterday summoned all the courage she possessed to view the charred bones which are strongly suspected to be the remains of her missing daughter Michelle Coudray-Greaves, 39. The San Fernando Mayor identified a bracelet and a bandeau found near the body as belonging to her daughter. The viewing took place at the Cornwall Regional Hospital, Jamaica. However, Coudray was able to find some comfort when she visited the Cornwall College where her daughter taught Spanish, and hear staff and students describe Michelle as an “angel” who touched many lives. “I was shook up this morning when I went to see the remains but I am all right now. “It was not easy to go there this morning but I felt I had to go, to be there, to see for myself, to look, or I would spend the rest of my life wondering,” she said in a telephone interview from Jamaica. “I would not wish this on another human being,” said Coudray, the heartbreak evident in her voice. She said her second most difficult task would be caring for her three grandchildren, Michelle’s children. “For all of my life I had two children. I have lost one but gained three. I will now have to be mother and grandmother,” she said. Coudray, her partner, Lawrence Achong, and brother Noel Jones went to Jamaica on Wednesday to assist police with DNA samples and dental records that might connect the missing schoolteacher and the burnt corpse found in a Montego Bay canefield on Monday.
However, it will not be until next week that forensic testing and DNA samples compared with samples taken from the bones will determine whether the remains are those of Coudray-Greaves. As a result Coudray will remain in Jamaica until she receives a full report, to bring her daughter’s remains home for burial. “They will not release the remains without the paperwork and I am not coming back without it. I don’t see how I can leave here without it,” the devastated mother said. She explained that since her arrival in Jamaica, blood samples had been taken from her to do a DNA match and her daughter’s dental records, obtained from her orthodontist, have been handed over to the police. However, the person scheduled to do the forensic testing is out of Jamaica until Monday. “So we will have to wait,” Coudray said. Out of an abundance of caution, she said she could not say with certainty that the bones belong to her daughter. “I cannot say that is my child,” she responded when the question was posed to her. The Jamaican Police are treating this as two separate cases, one a missing person and the second the discovery of the body in the canefield. She added: “Until they get the results of the DNA and put together the dental documents I got from the orthodontist to make a final determination, I cannot say that. “That will be irresponsible of me. I have to respect the police and the process they have to go through.”
While she awaits the forensic report, she will be interviewed by the police to give full details about Michelle to further assist in the probe. Coudray was full of praise for the Jamaican people and Government of Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller, which has extended all courtesies to her and her family. She said she was impressed by the police service and the level of professionalism shown. She said they sat with her at a media conference on her arrival, provided her with a communication person and assigned a counsellor to accompany her everywhere. “I cannot ask for more,” she said. Coudray said on her way to the hospital to view the remains, someone accompanying her got a call from the principal of Cornwall College, where her daughter taught Spanish. He said he wanted to see her. The school being on the way to the hospital, Coudray accepted the invitation to meet with him, the vice principal and a teacher. When she came out of that meeting, every single member of staff was waiting to meet her. She said: “Because Michelle was their friend. They said Michelle was loved by all, that she had no enemies, and wondered who could have done this to her. It was an experience I would never forget. Coudray said she was especially grateful to T&T High Commissioner Dr Iva Gloudon, who met her on arrival in Jamaica.
Coudray-Greaves left Trinidad on May 30 for Jamaica, after spending three weeks with her children at her mother’s home at Ste Madeleine, San Fernando. Three days later, she was reported missing. She was last seen boarding a taxi, a short distance away from her Cornwall Courts apartment in Montego Bay. Coudray visited her daughter’s landlady Gina Haughton and the flat where she lived yesterday evening.