Mur­dered Ber­bice teen’s body found

-main sus­pect in crime ac­cused of be­ing se­rial abuser

Stabroek News Sunday - - FRONT PAGE - By Bebi Oos­man

Res­i­dents of East Bank Ber­bice were in anger and dis­be­lief yes­ter­day as the de­com­pos­ing body of 13-year-old Leonard Archibald, who was raped and then dumped into the Ber­bice River, was fi­nally found, while the main sus­pect in the crime was ac­cused by young boys of car­ry­ing out a se­ries of at­tacks on them over a num­ber of years.

At min­utes af­ter 3 pm, Archibald’s body was dis­cov­ered on a mud­flat lo­cated at the back of Kort­ber­aad Vil­lage, in the Ber­bice River, which is some three miles from Broth­ers Vil­lage, East Bank Ber­bice, where the teen lived.

The dis­cov­ery was made by a search party com­pris­ing rel­a­tives of Archibald, who had de­cided that it would be their fi­nal search for the day. The search of the river was un­der­taken in light of a re­ported con­fes­sion by the sus­pect in the crime to dump­ing Archibald’s body and bi­cy­cle in the river af­ter sex­u­ally as­sault­ing him.

Ver­non Co­zier, 38, who was part of the search team, said the boy’s float­ing body was tan­gled in the vines and it ap­peared that birds had fed in it. “He ain’t get no hair, he ain’t get no eye and he one hand eat out clean and he foot eat out, bear bone deh,” Co­zier de­scribed the corpse.

Archibald’s par­ents and sib­lings were seen cry­ing and shak­ing their heads in dis­be­lief as they re­lated the dis­cov­ery to res­i­dents.

On Fri­day, po­lice had dis­cov­ered Archibald’s bi­cy­cle along with a sheet be­hind Sis­ter’s Vil­lage in the Ber­bice River. Fam­ily mem­bers said that although the bi­cy­cle was found, they were still hope­ful that Archibald was still alive.

Archibald went miss­ing last Sun­day af­ter­noon af­ter he left home to pick up two of his sis­ters from a birth­day party in a nearby vil­lage. How­ever, he never re­turned home. He was last spot­ted rid­ing a bi­cy­cle on the Sis­ters Vil­lage Pub­lic Road.

Po­lice had held the sus­pect, iden­ti­fied as Hi­lary Ed­wards, and an­other man, both of Sis­ters Vil­lage, East Bank Ber­bice in con­nec­tion with the child’s dis­ap­pear­ance.

On Fri­day af­ter­noon, po­lice said the main sus­pect con­fessed to rap­ing and dump­ing the boy in the river. Com­man­der of ‘B’ Di­vi­sion, Lyn­don Alves, told Stabroek News that the ac­cused said he kid­napped the child, who be­came un­con­scious dur­ing the sex­ual as­sault. In an ef­fort to cover up the crime, he re­port­edly then dumped the boy’s body into the Ber­bice River.

On Fri­day evening,

around 7 pm, the two sus­pects were taken to Sis­ters Vil­lage, East Bank Ber­bice, where the main ac­cused re­port­edly pointed out where he had dumped the teen’s body in the river.

Af­ter re­al­is­ing that the men were in the vil­lage, res­i­dents rushed to the scene. They said the sus­pect’s friend, who has also been held for the crime, claimed that he was not present when the crime was car­ried out. He said the main sus­pect and an­other man had been at the house where the crime was com­mit­ted and he had heard “groans” from within. He added that the main sus­pect sub­se­quently asked him to go and buy mar­i­juana.

Past at­tacks

The re­ported cir­cum­stances of Archibald’s death in­spired a march yes­ter­day morn­ing along the East Bank Ber­bice Pub­lic Road, where res­i­dents de­manded jus­tice for the child. Some said that they were an­gry at them­selves for not see­ing that the main ac­cused was held ac­count­able for his pre­vi­ous at­tacks on youths in the com­mu­nity. They promised to stand with Archibald’s fam­ily to en­sure that jus­tice is served and the ac­cused never re­turns to the area.

Up to last year, the man was re­ported to have been linked to the mo­lesta­tion of a seven-year-old.

Many res­i­dents told Sun­day Stabroek that re­ports of the sus­pect in­ter­fer­ing with young boys in the East Bank Ber­bice com­mu­nity were lodged at the Sis­ters Po­lice Sta­tion, but much was never done. “Every time he at­tack one child, he a gon’ go hide and come back like four, five weeks af­ter and be time then them po­lice for­get about the in­ci­dents and them boys a shame, some them na want it carry up,” a woman said.

Dur­ing this news­pa­per’s visit to the East Bank Ber­bice yes­ter­day, sev­eral young men from the vil­lages that make up the com­mu­nity re­lated in­stances where they were at­tacked by the main sus­pect. In some cases, some said they were raped.

Some were re­luc­tant to speak, de­spite the prom­ise of anonymity, due to the stigma at­tached to be­ing a vic­tim of a sex­ual as­sault.

How­ever, one youth, who is now in his twen­ties, stated that he was at­tacked by the man when he was 12-years-old. “He did lash me in me head and carry me in the bush and hang me up. Me been in the bush for three days. The sec­ond day, the branch break and I fall down and I hide and I see when he come in back with [the] cut­lass look­ing for me but I hide,” he said. “The third day me try, try and come out,” he added.

The young man noted that when the sus­pect first dealt him a blow to his head, he fell un­con­scious. It was dur­ing this time that the man would have sex­u­ally as­saulted him, be­fore ty­ing him to a tree branch in the back­lands.

The young man added that when he re­turned home, his par­ents took him to the hospi­tal, where he was ad­mit­ted for sev­eral weeks. The at­tack was re­ported to the Sis­ters Po­lice Sta­tion. “Me par­ents them does drink and like them set­tle the story and take the money and drink it out,” he sug­gested.

A 15-year-old boy, who re­sides in the area, said in July of this year the man pounced on him in his home. “Me been deh up­stairs and he run up the step easy and I try fa haul the blind on the win­dow and we holla fa we neigh­bour and the man come and he run down­stairs,” he re­counted.

He said a re­port was made to the po­lice and the man was warned.

An­other lad, who is 18, stated that two years he had left home to go to Light Town Vil­lage, East Bank Ber­bice, when the man at­tacked him. “He say he buddy deh in­side the dam hold­ing the boat, if I can help he carry in the spray can. So I help he and then [he] hold on from me hand and he say if I start holla he gon’ kill me, and he pull me in­side the boat and push the wood on me. And me tell he the bi­cy­cle lef on the road, let he go long for it and when he gone I swim away,” he re­lated.

A re­port was made to the Sis­ters Po­lice Sta­tion, but the man went into hid­ing for three weeks. He was sub­se­quently ar­rested about one month af­ter but the case was dropped against him af­ter he re­port­edly promised to re­place the young man’s phone, which he had ap­par­ently stolen dur­ing the at­tack.

The man has also been ac­cused of mo­lest­ing a seven-year-old child last year. A close rel­a­tive said that the at­tack oc­curred at the home of the child’s aunt, where the sus­pect would lime from time to time. The man was re­port­edly seen play­ing with the child’s gen­i­tals by a younger sib­ling, who told the child’s mother. Be­fore the woman ar­rived at the house, the man had left and he went into a hid­ing. The case was also said to have been re­ported to the Sis­ters Po­lice Sta­tion.

An­other youth, who is 19, said he was also at­tacked two months ago but man­aged to get away. He said he never re­ported what hap­pened to any po­lice nor did he ever tell any of his rel­a­tives.

A 40-year-old res­i­dent also re­lated that about five years ago, the ac­cused, who had been a friend, at­tacked him in his home. “I wasn’t at­tracted to him. He tried to go in my house and force him­self on me but I fight he off,” the man said. “He al­ways like to hit and run. He na crazy. If he see you nice, he want de­stroy you and most time he does smoke up,” he added.

It is un­clear whether the sus­pect was ever charged for any of the at­tacks as many of the cases were set­tled pri­vately. “Me does see he af­ter and he does watch me full in me face and na say noth­ing ei­ther,” one of the young men said.

At­tempts to con­firm the re­ports were made at the Sis­ters Po­lice Sta­tion. Sun­day Stabroek vis­ited the sta­tion, where an of­fi­cer who was present re­lated that the log­book which con­tained the re­ports was not present at the sta­tion since it was taken as part of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Rel­a­tives of the de­ceased and res­i­dents of the East Bank Ber­bice com­mu­nity flock to the area where the body of 13-year-old Leonard Archibald was dis­cov­ered

Leonard Archibald

This sign which was erected on the bus shed op­po­site the Sis­ters Po­lice Sta­tion to ap­peal for jus­tice on be­half of 13-year-old Leonard Archibald.

The Sis­ters Po­lice Sta­tion

Ver­non Co­zier

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