Four men from the Brasso Seco area are assisting police with investigations after the body of missing one-year-old Shania Amoroso and an adult female believed to be that of her mother, Jenelle Gonzales, 19, was discovered yesterday.
According to police, around 10.30 am, officers of the North Eastern Division Task Force and members of the Defence Force followed a stench four miles into the Brasso Seco forest where the two bodies were found in duffle bags. The child's skull, police said, was severely bashed in, while the adult had a gunshot wound to the head.There was a navel ring on the adult's body but due to the advanced stage of decomposition, police were not able to positively identify the body.
Still missing are two other women believed to be the child's grandmother Irma Rampersad, 49, and her 17-year-old daughter Felicia Gonzales, a student of Malabar Secondary School. Police said they will resume their search of the forest today.
In a telephone interview with the T&T Guardian yesterday, one of Rampersad's six daughters identified only as Gail said investigators confirmed that her niece Shania was found dead. Gail said while she has been preparing for something like this since her relatives vanished from their Bleu Road, Brasso Seco, Paria, home, two weeks ago, the reality is nonetheless heart-wrenching.
"We spoke to investigators and what they said was that they found the body of a child and a woman off a precipice. From what they said, they are sure that it's the baby, but they don't know who the woman is. They said the body was too badly decomposed, but she had a navel ring," Gail said.She was not sure if her mother or her sister wore a navel ring. Gail said she had the hard and painful task of gathering family members together to break the news before they heard it from the media.
"Right now we feeling ah how. I don't even know how to break the news to them. I prepared myself from the beginning for this eh, but to see it come true now... hmmm, I just don't know," Gail said.
Since the family vanished, there have been rumours surrounding the reason for their disappearance. One such rumour is that Rampersad might have seen or heard who killed a fellow resident in the area in August. Another was that one of the teenaged girls was involved in a relationship with an escaped criminal who police claimed had threatened family members in Valencia if they did not help him hide from police.
That man, police said, is believed to have been behind the family's disappearance and now death.Since the disappearance, relatives and residents of the rural village in the north coast of Trinidad have made passionate pleas for the safe release of the family members whom they referred to as "innocent ones. "
One villager who championed the call is the relative of one of the four men now in custody. The four men were held at the Brasso Seco Community Centre for most of the day yesterday before being taken to police stations within the North Eastern Division.On Wednesday, four other men who were held by the police and believed to be "people of interest" in the disappearance of the family were all released after spending close to six days in custody.
Following the discovery of the body, villagers refused to speak on the matter. Some chose instead to talk about the deplorable state of the road to get in and out of the rural community.The killings have now taken the murder toll to 348.
The family members were last seen alive on October 26 at their home in Brasso Seco.In an interview on October 31, Rampersad's daughter Nicole Gonzales said her mother called her on October 27 to say she was taking her sister Felicia to the Arima Health Facility. Checks by relatives revealed they were not at the health facility.
Nicole also said her sister Jenelle would never leave home with her one-year-old child Shania without packing a baby bag for her. Since all the child's belongings were still home, Nicole believed the family was abducted. Following the murder of Phillip Noreiga, 31, on August 4 in the area, Nicole said her mother had been receiving threats by people who believe she saw something and was not forthcoming with the information.
She added that she was forced to move out of the area for a while after those threatening her mother promised to kill her children and burn their house down. "My mother is a good woman, she don't lime, she don't drink nothing, and my sisters are good girls."I really need to see my family, that is all I have. We need to see them. They are peaceful people."That baby innocent, my family not in drugs, in guns or anything," Nicole said, her voice breaking.