Thu | Apr 2, 2020

Garth Rattray | A murder most foul

Published:Monday | February 11, 2019 | 12:16 AM
Dr Lynvale Bloomfield

Every human life is precious and sacred. Whenever someone is murdered, there is a sadness that penetrates to the core and echoes for many years.

There is also a pervasive foreboding that the same fate could befall any of us. I am deeply perturbed by all murders, but it is especially disturbing when the victim is someone who isn’t a stranger.It’s shocking when one day, you see the individual looking healthy, fit, happy, walking around and talking, and then, in a few days or weeks, you get the news that the person was brutally killed. You can’t help but wonder what his or her last moments of terror were like, and, tsunami of horror washes over you.The brutal murder of Dr Lynvale Bloomfield was shocking to me and to innumerable other people who knew him or knew of him. He was always quiet and humble and never flaunted his status in life. His reserved demeanor was out of keeping with the role that he played in the lives of his patients, community and in representational politics.He appeared to be the sort of person that no one would want to harm, let alone murder. This impression of him made his murder all the more shocking and devastating.It’s not that one particular life is more precious than any other, but whenever those who contribute in a positive way to society are murdered, it’s mesmerising and especially egregious. The same applies when little children and the helpless elderly are slain.It is natural for us to wonder about the motive for such a despicable act.

Unless it is known that the murder took place as a result of a grievance or during a robbery or because of some other major crime, speculations always run rampant about whether he or she was murdered because of this, that or the other.If we are to reduce their frequency, murders need to be solved.

The capture and punishment of the perpetrators are very effective preventative measures. Doing so requires good detective work, solid forensics and, often, the invaluable assistance of those good citizens who provide the investigators with information.Solving murders on an individual basis is extremely important for many reasons – justice for the family of the victim, for the prevention of other murders to keep our society safe and, in our setting, to keep our invaluable visitors safe. But we must also concentrate on mitigating the root causes of murders and other violent crimes.


The level of violence in our country has been blamed on our ancestral roots. Some claim that the more violent slaves were dropped of here, in Jamaica, in order to get rid of them before the slave trip continued on its journey.Others believe that the violence could be as a result of the high concentration of harmful chemicals (like lead, arsenic, cadmium and mercury) found in our soil that affect our organs and nervous system.

They can lead to learning problems in children and result in a propensity for violence.Our problems were compounded by the political rivalry of the 1970s and 1980s. Respect for human life was sacrificed for the election votes to acquire those famous ‘scarce resources and spoils’. And, many needy communities were set on an alternative (anti) social path to secure their survival.Jamaica has evolved into an undisciplined society where anything goes.

We must bring back order and discipline on our roads, or we’ll never reduce crime. There is too much dependence on handouts and the proceeds of illegal activities within our underprivileged communities.We need to fix our social ills and assure the proper upbringing/acculturation of our nation’s children in order to reduce crime, especially murders.

- Garth A. Rattray is a medical doctor with a family practice. Email feedback to and