The decomposing body of a woman which was discovered on Saturday in Santa Cruz may be that of 19-year-old mother of two, Amy Leslie James, who was reported missing two Sundays ago.
Police are still trying to confirm the identity of the body as it was found in an advanced state of decomposition, but they have called on James’ relatives to identify the body. Police believe body is that of James’ because of an identifying mark – a tattoo of a heart on the upper left thigh – which appears to match the description given by relatives when she was reported missing. Relatives who are expected to go to the Forensic Science Centre (FSC) in St James today to identify the body spoke to Newsday and recounted the difficult life the young girl had, which may have ended in a violent death. Speaking to Newsday yesterday at her home in Sewa Drive, Todd’s Road Chaguanas, the girl’s mother, Akim Veronica James, said while she has a feeling in her heart that the body which was found is her daughter, she is holding on to whatever hope she has until she views the body at the FSC.
“I felt it (her death) in my belly,” said the grieving mother, “Because I called one of her friends and told her that something was not right. The system failed my child time and again. She was hurt when she was very young and she never got any help or counselling from the government. I never had a mother or a father. I had my child very young and I did what I had to do to make a life for her. I built this house – most of it with my own two hands – to that she could have a life. Why should a man come and take her life now?”
James’ mother told Newsday she her daughter was was raped by a male relative when she was eight years old and again when she was nine. Newsday was told that she endured the situation mostly by herself, as she was never given any counselling.
James, who was described by relatives and close friends as “quiet and jovial” then began going to Chaguanas South Secondary, but complained to her mother that she always ran into the same male relative who abused her when she was a little girl. She decided to drop out of the school.
The mother told Newsday she then got into a relationship with a man when she was 15, and got pregnant with her first child when she was 16. The young girl eventually moved out of her mother’s home and began staying with her male companion and father of her child, renting out places in Enterprise and La Romaine. But even then she was abused, according to her mother.
The mother said James and the male companion would frequently have violent encounters, and was also forced into “selling her body”. The couple had an on again off again relationship which continued to be violent and volatile and abusive.
After having her second child about five months ago, she decided to change her life and separate from the abusive male companion. The man still pursued her, and according to her mother he would frequently call her to find out her whereabouts. “We had made several reports to the police and we have two matters in the court, but nothing has come out of it,” the mother said.
Two Saturdays ago James asked her mother to look after the children at her Chaguanas home while she went out to a party. Newsday was told that she came back the following day – which was the same day she went missing – and collected the children. She went to her father’s home in Curepe, where she was staying with her two children in a room.
That Sunday, Newsday was told, she was again invited to go to a party by one of her sisters, which she turned down, saying that she wanted to spend time with her kids. When the sister returned, she saw the two children sleeping in the room, but James was nowhere to be found.
“I tried calling her phone, but the phone was off,” said the sister. James was reported missing to police last Monday.
“At first I got angry. I couldn’t believe that she would leave her children unattended. Anything could have happened to the children. But then I started getting worried and I made a report, only to find out that she is dead.”
Relatives believe that somebody she knows may have snatched her from the home in Curepe. Family members said they reviewed CCTV footage from a camera positioned at the front of their home, to see who she could have left with, but did not get any footage of her leaving, suggesting that she may have left through the back of the house where there was no camera.
On Saturday last, hunters were walking along a track off Santa Barbara Boulevard, when they found what is believed to be James’ body. The nude, decomposing body was found with a plastic bag over its head. Articles of clothing and other items were found nearby.