TWO years after his twin brother and sister-in-law were stabbed and strangled to death at their Buccoo home, Tobagonian James Mills is still struggling to come to terms with the gruesome murders.
John “Joker” Mills and his wife Eulyn John were found gagged, with their hands and feet bound with duct tape, in a bedroom at their two-storey Cocrico Avenue home, on May 2, 2019.
The brutal killings occurred the day after John celebrated his 70th birthday.
He was the Prime Minister's closest childhood friend.
Mills’s nephew found the couple in a pool of blood with multiple stab wounds to the chest and neck. At the time, he told Newsday he believed his relatives were robbed before they were killed.
Investigators said one bedroom was “disturbed” in a struggle, but there was no sign of forced entry.
The autopsies revealed Mills died of internal bleeding and strangulation and his wife suffocated to death.
James said he is daily reminded of his brother's murder
“Every time I look at myself in the mirror, I see him. Of course I would, we are twins, so how can I forget him and that way he was taken?
“He wasn’t a sick man, he was innocent – why they killed him?”
Asked if he has forgiven the killer, James said, “Yes, I forgive them – but they have to pay. Even when God forgives you, you still have to pay.”
Referring to Bible stories, he said, “When God told Moses to talk to the rock and he’ll get water for the Israelites and he strike it instead, he was forgiven, but forbidden from seeing the promised land.
“Even with David and Saul, God forgives people, but they pay…They have to reap what they sow.”
Asked if his brother would have forgiven his killer, James chuckled before saying, “I don’t know what to say about this one, because this is the worst way to kill someone.
“Sometimes it is unbearable. It reached home, so close to me.”
James said his brother was his personal adviser and they enjoyed conversations on politics and current affairs.
He said leading up to his brother’s death their last interaction was at his home, where they wished each other a happy birthday and recalled favourite memories.
His brother's wife was preparing food for the birthday party later that day, but he did not attend.
"I went home, relaxing, and I didn’t see him for the rest of the day.
James, who lived a stone's throw away, said he remembered listening to music coming from the party until he fell asleep.
“Between 10 am and 11 am the next day I got the news.
“The first thing I thought was: this is unbelievable. I didn’t expect that someone would come the next day to say someone murdered him and his wife in their bedroom.
He has no idea why anyone would want to harm his brother.
“He wasn’t a bad guy – never involved in anything illegal. I don’t know of him (ill) treating anybody in any way. He was a man who would always try to be a counsellor to people. Always believed in mediation.”
James, who is now, 72, said it’s always difficult, sitting on his patio, looking over the road at his brother's home, with flashbacks of undertakers removing his body.
He said while he is confident justice will be served, he will forever relive the pain of losing his other half.
A prime minister’s pal
James described his brother as the “healthier” twin who spent a lot of time training in the gym. John had a keen interest in bodybuilding and was one of the founders of Tobago’s bodybuilding competition.
James said his brother went to Bishop's High School with Dr Rowley and they always had a close relationship.
“From a little boy all the way to a man, he always spoke about the times he and Rowley would share meals. It seemed as if he had more fond days with him than me,” he said jokingly.
“He always joked about hitting Rowley for a four in cricket in school, and when it’s Rowley’s turn to bowl, he’ll bounce you.
“We grew up in poverty and couldn’t buy a cricket bat, and he would make his own bat with a plank of wood from a manjack tree. He was so skilful, he used to make a ball with the same wood.
“He passed the Common Entrance (now known as SEA) and I didn’t. He was a 400m runner in secondary school and then we got into weight training. I had a little body and couldn’t put on weight and he would laugh at me and say, ‘You gaining weight from the inside.’”
During the Millses’ funeral, the Prime Minister pleaded with anyone with information to come forward.
In his farewell tribute, he described the death of his friend as a “moment of grief and national trauma."
He declared, "Talk about the wickedness among us – it would not be surprising at all if in the very congregation somebody knows something, and worse, it wouldn’t be the first time that somebody carrying the coffin is the person..."
Seven charged for UTC fraud
Two months after the murders, seven people were charged with fraud after they allegedly tried to cash cheques for over $200,000 from John's life savings at the Unit Trust Corporation (UTC). Police arrested two of the group at the ANR Robinson. They reportedly had tickets for Amsterdam.
Five of the suspects appeared before the Scarborough Magistrates Court.
John's neighbour and former UTC employee Nicholas Davis, 26, also of Cocrico Avenue, Buccoo was one of the men charged with fraud.
The group also included Cleopatra James of Calder Hall, Scarborough; Cammie Smith, 29; Dion Crosby, 25; and Kennesha Williams, 30.
Ashana Pritchard of Mango Alley, Hilltop Park, Laventille and Jerome Hernandez of Carnbee were the first to be arrested, in Trinidad, after they allegedly tried to obtain $205,380 by false pretence using a death certificate in the name of John Mills on July 8, claiming to be beneficiaries of his account, at the UTC Port of Spain branch.
They were all granted bail.
Tobago police: ‘Case not cold’
The couple were the island's fourth and fifth murder victims for that year.
Though no one has been arrested or charged for the murder, James Mills said he has faith in the justice system.
“Investigators visited me for the second anniversary of the murder just to say they aren’t giving up.
“I have hope in them. I know these things take time, and when that time comes – they will pay.”
Tobago Homicide Bureau investigators told Newsday the matter isn’t a cold case and investigations are ongoing.
One police source explained that there was evidence that pointed to several suspects who might charged for the murder, but as yet it was not enough to convince the Director of Public Prosecutions to advise to lay the charge.