Members of the San Juan community turned out to support grieving family and friends of murdered teenager Ashanti Riley in a motorcade held in her memory yesterday. The Justice for Ashanti motorcade went from the family’s home at Lloyd Street, Sunshine Avenue, San Juan, to Woodford Square, Port-of-Spain.
The teen’s mother, Candice Riley, struggled to find the words to describe how she and her family have been affected by the brutal murder of the 18-year-old but expressed hope that the family would get closure as they prepare or the teen’s funeral tomorrow.
“It very, very hard. No words can express how I coping,” she told reporters.
Riley said the family has been struggling to come to terms with Ashanti’s death. They had been living in Sunshine Avenue, San Juan, for just two months when Ashanti went missing after getting into a PH taxi near her home.
Riley expressed regret that the family was completely unaware of any dangers in the neighbourhood.
“We don’t know the person... we didn’t know the person’s background,” she said of the PH driver who was arrested shortly after Ashanti went missing.
“All I want to see is justice be done.”
She said the teen has been “a joy in the family, she was always joyful.”
Ashanti aunt, Lisa, said the laws governing heinous crimes such as murder and rape need to be revisited. She said she is in support of non-lethal weapons for women.
“Too many women and children are being murdered,” she said. “You not really seeing anything about it. Families not having closure.
She also added her voice to calls to regularise persons operating private cars for hire.
San Juan/Barataria MP Saddam Hosein was among those in attendance to show solidarity with the bereaved family. He said Ashanti should not become another statistic.
An autopsy performed on the 18-year-old’s body at the Forensic Sciences Centre in St James found that suffered sharp force injuries to the chest and lower abdomen as well as blunt force trauma to the back of the left chest, indicating that she was brutally beaten before being stabbed. Sources familiar with the investigation said her killers first attempted to strangle her using a belt but when that did not work, they used a knife to end her life.
Over the past few days, members of the Sunshine Street, San Juan, community have been banding together to assist the Rileys. Several of them came together to cook food for the teenager’s wake at the family home and have been helping to raise funds to offset the funeral costs.
The family was not told if she was sexually assaulted before she was killed.
A 32-year-old San Juan PH taxi driver, who was arrested shortly after the teen’s disappearance on November 29, is expected to be charged for the murder. Police are searching for another suspect, a man from San Juan.
Ashanti will be laid to rest tomorrow.