Ashanti Riley murder suspect faces new charges in rape, kidnapping of 15-year-old girl
Police are close to completing their investigations into two offences of rape and kidnapping of a minor against the same suspect charged for the murder of Ashanti Riley.
The teenager said she had been taken to the same area where Riley's body was found on December 4, in La Canoa, Santa Cruz where she was raped.
She had boarded the PH taxi driven by the 32-year-old suspect in San Juan and later taken to the deserted area where she was sexually assaulted. Police believe there may be other victims who were also attacked by the same man and want them to come forward and report the crime.
Investigators also believe that the suspect acted alone and employed the same modus operandi in both cases.
The suspect is expected to appear before a Port of Spain magistrate virtually on Monday charged with the murder of Riley, and of kidnapping and raping the teen on two occasions.
He was positively identified by the 15-year-old victim at an identification parade on Saturday. Officers of the Child Protection Unit were involved in that investigation.
On Thursday, homicide detectives leading investigations into Riley's murder got instructions from Director of Public Prosecutions Roger Gaspard SC to charge the suspect for murder. They were also advised to release a second man, aged 29, of San Juan, since there was insufficient evidence to charge him with any offence.
Police investigators got their first break in the case last Friday, hours before Riley's body was recovered, during an interview with the suspect. Based on new information on the crime, officers were able to return to the scene of the murder and find her body.
Riley, 18, of Lloyd Street, Sunshine Avenue, San Juan left her home on November 29, around 4 pm to visit her grandmother for a birthday party. She went missing and relatives later secured CCTV footage showing she entered a light blue car.
Two days later, police arrested the driver and obtained information three days later which led them to the nude, decomposing body of Riley on her back in a stream near Cakes Land, La Canoa, Santa Cruz.
An autopsy revealed Riley died from sharp force injuries to the right of her chest and lower abdomen and blunt force trauma to the back on the left side of the chest.
Riley's murder sparked a national outrage prompting the Prime Minister to direct the Minister of Works to re-look the legality of PH taxis. Dr Rowley stated that many of the people who operate PH taxis were not suited to transport people.
In response to the growing number of violent crimes against women and girls, Police Commissioner Gary Griffith on Tuesday advocated for women to be allowed to carry a cannister of pepper spray as a form of a non-lethal weapon which can be used in the instance of an attack to give women an opportunity to escape.
But the Prime Minister does not think allowing women to carry pepper spray was the answer as it can also be used as a weapon against them. He instead urged women to be more careful when they venture out from their homes.
Women's rights activist group Womantra also welcomed any decision to allow women to have some form of non-lethal weapons, including pepper spray, at their disposal for their safety.
Another lobby group, Powerful Ladies of TT also called for consultation on legislation to regulate the use of self-defence weapons like pepper-spray and the regulations to register and track PH drivers.
On Saturday, relatives, friends and other people took part in a motorcade in honour of Riley.
Even as they remembered Riley, the relatives of another San Juan family were searching for a missing teen.
Police said Shania Applewhite, 16, of Bagatelle Road, was reported missing on Friday at the San Juan Police Station. She was last seen at 12.30 pm on Thursday dressed in a blue and red coloured top, a pair of jeans and black sandals.
Applewhite was described as brown skin in complexion, five feet, six inches tall, has blonde hair and a tongue piercing.
Anyone with information on the whereabouts of the missing teen is urged to immediately contact the San Juan Police Station at 638-3416 or contact 999, 555, Crime Stopper at 800-TIPS or share the information via the police service App.
"Ashanti Riley murder suspect faces new charges in rape, kidnapping of 15-year-old girl"