BY MARK CUMMINGS Editor-at-Large Western Bureau——-
SHREWSBURY, Westmoreland — A pall of gloom hung stubbornly over this rural community yesterday as residents tried to make sense of the beheading of 76-year-old Phyllis Walters, allegedly by one of her grandsons.
By mid-morning, Kevin Turner, 19, — said to be Walters’ favourite grandson — as well as the bloody knife, which he reportedly used to sever her head from her body, were taken into custody.
Residents look at the house where Phyllis Walters was killed, allegedly by her grandson, yesterday. (Photos: Kenroy Pringle)
The grandmother had arrived in the island from Canada last Sunday to make preparations for the burial of her son, Fredrick Turner — Kevin’s father — who died in a motor vehicle accident earlier this month.
That funeral was scheduled to be held on Sunday.
As soon the Jamaica Observer arrived in the farming community yesterday it became apparent that something had gone awfully wrong in the usually peaceful district.
With grief etched on the faces of several residents gathered in close proximity to the scene of the bizarre crime, a number of them found it extremely difficult to come to grips with what is said to be an unfortunate and rare incident in that section of Westmoreland.
Police say they were called to the community about 4:30 am yesterday after the accused reported to his older brother, Fabian Turner, that their grandmother was dead.
When the cops arrived at the house where Walters and her two grandsons lived, her body was found in a pool of blood with her head severed.
Kevin, who was still at the house when the police arrived, was handcuffed and carted off to a police lock-up.
His brother, Fabian, surmised that the death of their father was the root cause of his sibling’s “strange action”.
“From our father died, him started to act strange. He had stopped being himself; he was a different person. Everyday I would tell him that him should take his mind off it because our father is already dead and that he should not put it on his head,” said a tearful Fabian.
He told the Observer that since last week Friday his brother had not slept or ate.
“He would just stay there and stare at the television for most of the day,” he recalled.
On Wednesday, Fabian said, Kevin started to act “even stranger”, so he took him to see a doctor in the nearby town of Savanna-la-Mar.
He said the doctor prescribed medication for Kevin and advised that it should be taken at nights.
“The first dose was given to him at about 9:00 pm on Wednesday,” said Fabian, who along with his brother and grandmother shared the three-bedroom house in Shrewsbury.
Fabian, however, did not sleep there on Wednesday. Instead, he spent the night with relatives a few blocks away.
In the wee hours of yesterday, he said, he was greeted with the horrible news by Kevin, who had blood stains all over his clothes.
“About after five [o’clock] him (Kevin) come knock mi up and said ‘Fabian, wake up’. When I went outside I saw that his hands and feet were in blood, and him had a bent knife with blood over it, so I seh ‘Kevin, what were you doing?’ and him seh, ‘a chicken mi a kill’,” Fabian recalled, pointing out that on Wednesday his brother had helped his grandmother to slaughter chickens.
Fabian recounted that he hurried to the death house where he saw his grandmother’s headless body lying in a pool of blood in a section of the large living room. Her head was located a little distance away.
Sections of the living room and kitchen, he added, were splattered with blood.
Early yesterday, a few relatives were observed removing blood stains from the floors and walls of the kitchen and living room, while others huddled at various sections of the property as they agonised over the past events.
“It’s really shocking, I just can’t believe it. Kevin was not a violent person and he was well loved by his grandmother. And he loved her very much too,” said one teary-eyed relative.
Neighbours said that they heard “sounds” coming from the house about 3:00 am yesterday, but they thought it was a family quarrel.
“Mi hear some sounds early in the morning, but I took it for nothing. I just believe that it was some family dispute,” said one resident who claimed to be a neighbour.
Meanwhile, relatives have described Walters as a very hard-working and generous person.
“Miss Phyllis (Walters) was good to everybody. She always bring things for us when she come from foreign,” said Charmaine Wright, who had known the deceased for more than 30 years.
Wright said she had planned to visit Walters yesterday.