MELISSA Tricia Emmanuel took a chance and ultimately paid with her life, when she went to collect $7000 from an acquaintance in Port of Spain on Friday evening. Mere minutes after receiving the cash, she was shot and killed during a robbery in the taxi she was travelling.
Emmanuel's identity remained a mystery up until late Saturday night, as members of the Homicide Bureau Region 1 made repeated calls for anyone with information to come forward. However, even before news broke of her daughter's murder, her mother Ann Marie Emmanuel sensed something was wrong as Melissa did not call to check-in on her 10-year-old daughter Kelis.
Newsday visited the family's home at Mt Pleasant Road, Arima yesterday and spoke to Ida Armstrong, who said her granddaughter received an urgent call from someone shortly before 6 pm on Friday evening, to go into Port of Spain and collect the cash owed to her from an unsuccessful transaction.
"I don't know who it was that called her that evening. All I know was that she had to go into town to collect something from somebody. She was a very caring, kind, loving person. My brain can't function right now. Too many things have been going through my mind."
One of Melissa's close relatives, Marcia Joseph, described her as a surrogate daughter who has stood by the Emmanuel family through difficult times. Joseph said she was distraught to learn of the murder. She said the family became concerned on Saturday morning when they realised Emmanuel did not return from Port of Spain. However, they did not learn of her death until later that evening when her mother received a call from police to identify her body.
"We ended up having to go to the Port of Spain General Hospital yesterday (Saturday) evening when we were informed of all this. We all knew something was wrong when she didn't call to check-in on her daughter. That's something she always did no matter how far she went."
Melissa was unemployed and needed the money to help support herself. This, they said, was part of the reason why she put up a fight against the bandit who ordered her to surrender her purse.
"She doesn't wear a lot of gold. So she would have handed over the earrings and the chain she had on without hesitation, but she probably put up a struggle over that bag with the money inside. I don't know if the bandit knew how much there was."
According to reports, Melissa had just finished the transaction near Invaders Bay, MovieTowne and had entered a private-hire taxi. Along the way, the driver picked up another passenger who said he was stopping near the Licensing Office on Wrightson Road. Just before exiting the vehicle, the man reportedly pulled out a gun and announced a hold-up, taking Emmanuel's earrings and chain. As he attempted to snatch her purse, she resisted and he shot her once in the head before running off. Investigators are trying to obtain CCTV camera footage to help them identify a suspect.