Of the eight murders committed so far this year, three have been women, all of whom were killed by former lovers in separate incidents.
The latest victim is insurance agent Gabriella Du Barry, 28, who lived at South Oropouche but fled to her family's home in Avocat, to get away from her violent ex-lover. In the end, she failed.
The estranged lover shot and killed Du Barry in her bedroom around mid-morning on Thursday, then ran past a weeping female relative who was the only other person in the house at the time.
Du Barry had filed for a restraining order against the man and the case is pending in the Siparia Magistrates’ Court. Police said Du Barry, who worked with Guardian Life, was the mother of one. They arrested the suspect shortly after her murder.
Reports stated that at about 10.30 am, the man ran into the house at Jebodsingh Drive in Avocat and saw Du Barry's female relative. He ordered her to get down but instead she ran outside screaming for help. The woman later told police that while outside the house, she heard three gunshots. The killer then ran past her towards the Fyzabad Main Road.
Together with neighbours, the female relative went back into the house and found Du Barry’s body on the floor. Snr Supt Cooper together with Supt Ramphal, Insp Corrie, Cpl Smith, WPC George and other officers from the South Western Division and Homicide Investigations Bureau (Region III) visited the scene and spoke with Du Barry's traumatised female relative.
Other relatives began arriving as news of the murder spread but none weree willing to speak with reporters. An autopsy is expected to be done today at the Forensic Sciences Centre in St James.
3 IN ONE WEEK
The domestic violence-related murders took place all within the past week. On Monday at 7.30 am, principal of Baby's Pre-School, Jezelle Philip, 43, was fatally stabbed by an ex-lover as she was teaching students in a room of the Port of Spain school. She died minutes later while being treated at the General Hospital.
Her attacker then walked to the Besson Street Police Station and surrendered. Up to press time, he remained in custody with police saying he is yet to be charged as investigations are continuing.
Also on Monday at 9 am, the bodies of Polly-Ann Chuniesingh, 31, her brother Damien, 39, and their uncle Randy were found in their house at Get Well Avenue, Pinto Road in Arima by other relatives who had called out to them over the weekend but got no answer.
Autopsies revealed that the three were all strangled with tie-straps which were pulled so violently that the resultant wounds led police to initially believe they had had their throats slit. An ex-boyfriend of Polly-Ann, who is believed to have tried to poison her last December, is in custody assisting police. Police said Polly-Ann was the main target and that her brother and uncle were killed for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. They were merely collateral damage.
Police added that on Monday, the day she was found dead, Polly-Ann had intended to visit the magistrates court to apply for a restraining order against her ex-boyfriend.
'I'M ABSOLUTELY HORRIFIED'
Head of the Institute for Gender and Development Studies at UWI, St Augustine campus, Dr Gabrielle Hosein expressed horror at the murders when contacted by Newsday last evening for a comment.
In expressing her condolences to relatives of the three murdered women, Dr Hosein said, "I'm absolutely horrified at what has taken place. I am horried that these men are killing women, killing mothers without a care or concern for the effect their callous actions would have on others including children, who perhaps are even their own."
Dr Hosein called on the state to act immediately to deal with the trend of domestic violence. "I call on the state to immediately approve a national prevention strategy which includes access to counselling for men, adequately funded shelters for women, and a national campaign which emphasises that love is not violent and does not kill."
Hosein explained that male-partner violence affects one in three women in this small country. More than 10,000 women in TT, she added, are believed to be living in some form of violent relationship. Such violence is a problem of perpetration and impunity, not of women’s choices, male mental illness or too much love, she said.
"It is a problem rooted in norms of male authority and control over women, inadequate social service provision for perpetrators and survivors, and the state's failure to enact a national prevention strategy that challenges traditional associations between masculinity and power."
Hosein, who is also a columnist with this newspaper, added: "We must all keep in mind that women are most at risk of such homicidal violence when they are trying to or have left abusive men."