Today will be a day of fresh heartbreak in Arima, as the four Peterkin children, who were murdered at Heights of Guanapo on September 21, will be laid to rest, and what is left of their family haunted by the memory, clings together bereft of peace.
Anesa Rampersad, mother of the late Shane, Tiffany, Arianna and Faith Peterkin, broke down in tears while speaking to Guardian Media yesterday, as she contemplated the moment when she will face her children’s lifeless bodies for the last time today.
“I don’t even want to go...I can’t see my children in a box...! I was saying I just wanted to see them one last time...and I can’t even do that!...But it’s the last chance, as I would never see them again,” Rampersad added, crying long and hard.
She was, of course, making reference to the fact that there will be a closed casket service due to the poor condition of the children’s bodies.
The funeral will be held at Allen’s Funeral Home, Arima, from 2 pm.
Rampersad’s children, ranging in ages from 10-19, were murdered after midnight by gunmen who stormed their home. Youngest victim, Faith, 10, was due to turn 11 next Saturday.
Five other relatives, ranging in ages from 14 to 25, who were also in the La Retreat Extension home at the time of the attack, were also wounded.
For Rampersad and her spouse Shawn Peterkin, there is now only their eldest daughter Shanika, who was among the wounded and remains hospitalised with lung damage.
Rampersad spoke after she and Peterkin visited Arima MP Pennelope Beckles, who knows the family, yesterday.
Beckles, who was at the United Nations when the attacks occurred, contacted the family, who are among her constituents.
Rampersad recalled Beckles presenting the family with Christmas hampers before.
Speaking on the situation yesterday, Beckles said, “Theirs is a squatting community and this has been very painful for parents, the Guanapo community and by extension Arima. As an MP, it has also been very, very painful for me.
“I’m attending the funeral and lending all the support I can. I reached out to Social Development Minister Donna Cox, who’s also assisting in whatever way possible and I’ll continue to keep in touch with them.”
TTPS detains one suspect
Rampersad said that the T&T Police Service told them they had so far held one person in connection with the murders and is working “hard and very fast”.
But in addition to the pain of the children’s deaths, the family now has to grapple with fallout.
Foremost is Rampersad’s anger and grief about social media claims about the shootings.
She said, “People saying all kinds of things, ‘we send them on the streets to make fares.’ Oh God, my children never did anything wrong, no drinking, smoking or party, no bacchanal! My children didn’t deserve that ... sleeping in their beds and they just come and kill them so. Why?
“People talking about the ‘sins of the fathers falling on children’ but I live good for my children...If we were doing wrong things, something might have been expected but we weren’t doing any thing illegal...I swear to God we were never in anything with anybody.”
She added, “We work hard. The minute the father get pay, we make groceries, get school things, pay bills. We never study ourselves. What little we had was for the children. People don’t know how hard we work. I lost my job during COVID, I used to tend bar and cook. For Christmas, I make pastelle and black cake and sell; we mind animals.”
The family, now homeless, is also seeking assistance. The blood from the massacre stained the location where Rampersad, 39, had lived since she was 17. Even if bloodstains are removed, Rampersad and Peterkin cannot face the house.
“It’s where my children were killed,” she mourned.
“We’re seeking accommodation, hoping for government assistance.”
Twelve families have also moved out of the area since the murders.
Rampersad is also upset about reports that one child’s body was blue and swollen due to decomposition, allegedly due to certain initial freezer conditions.
“They lying” she alleged.
Rampersad added, “Whoever murdered my children, the police should get them and hang them as they have no heart. My children died on the spot.
“Our life will never be the same. It have no Christmas again; Shane’s birthday was August 30, I was August 26, I can’t celebrate birthdays either. Next Saturday is Faith birthday...you know how we going to be then?”