FOUR years after the murder of schoolgirl Rachel Ramkissoon, her grandmother Kamla Ramkissoon is calling for justice and closure. Ramkissoon, who said her health has deteriorated since her granddaughter’s murder, still wants to know who killed Rachel and why.
“A young, bright life was snatched and up to this day no one can say anything. I want some closure, my family wants closure,” Ramkissoon said in an interview on Sunday. She begged the nation: “Please, if you saw something that day or if you know about what happened to Rachel, come forward. The family is damaged, we are still hurting.”
Rachel’s death rocked the nation and even moved then President Anthony Carmona and then La Horquetta/Talparo MP Maxie Cuffie to attend her funeral at the Brazil Faith Assembly International Church. Carmona spoke out about the depressing crime statistics.
It also sparked conversation about private-hire (PH) taxi drivers being possibly involved in criminal activities and about a lack of proper public transport in rural districts.
National debate on the PH taxi issue took place as recently as last December after the abduction, rape and murder of schoolgirl Ashanti Riley, 18. Her decomposing body was found in a stream days after she left her San Juan home and got into a PH driver’s car to visit a relative.
On January 13, 2017, 16-year-old Rachel Ramkissoon overslept after studying late into the night and missed the school bus. There has been speculation that the Form Five student later took a PH taxi to take her to Northeastern College to sit her exams. She never showed up at the school.
Rachel had told relatives her dream was to become an attorney and to work hard elevate her family from a life of poverty. The teen’s body, still in her school uniform, was later found in some bushes near her home in Talparo. She lived with her parents Toba Ramkissoon and Catherine Nicholas and siblings.
An autopsy by pathologist Dr Hughvon Des Vignes revealed that her death was due to strangulation. Several people were interviewed but no arrests were made.
Lead investigator Sgt Anil Maharaj (who has since been promoted), told Newsday two years ago that the case was neither closed nor cold and he had very high hopes of solving this murder. Maharaj could not be reched for a comment on the weekend.
Ramkissoon, who gave a telephone interview to Newsday on Sunday, said she continues to speak with Maharaj, but feels with the spike in murders since 2017, solving Rachel’s murder is no longer a priority.
“He has no update. I also sent a text message and called Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith, who said someone asked for the file. I don’t know who ordered the file, but nothing yet,” Ramkissoon said.
“I just want closure and justice for my granddaughter, who had a bright future ahead of her. She was supposed to come and live with me in San Fernando to pursue CAPE studies at a school in the district, but that dream was killed back in 2017.”
Ramkissoon said that even with the passage of time, she is still grieving over her granddaughter’s murder.
“It has been a traumatic time for me, I know the pain of Ashanti’s family and all those other families across the country who have lost a loved one to murder.”
Ramkissoon said that Ashanti’s family can take small comfort in the fact that people have been arrested and charged.
“But I don’t have that same small comfort,” she said. “My family and I, we have had no closure after four long years.”
Ramkissoon is of the firm opinion that Rachel knew her killer.
“It has to be somebody close to her. No stranger did that. If it was a stranger you would have done know that. People does talk, but close people would keep it down.”
She said that every year, on Rachel’s birthday and the anniversary date of her murder, family members would visit her grave to leave flowers there.
Ramkissoon reiterated her call for justice and answers, saying while Rachel is at rest and at peace, her family is not.