A grandmother's heart-wrenching wail signalled to everyone in the area that the three-day search for seven-year-old Kalisha Cousins had ended in the worst possible way.
Kalisha's body was found in the Rio Cobre near Dyke Road in St Catherine last Friday, after she was reported missing on Wednesday when she failed to return from school at the usual time.
According to the police, a fisherman saw a body in the river about 3:30 last Friday and raised an alarm. The scene was processed by police investigators and the badly decomposed body, which was identified as Kalisha, removed to the morgue for post-mortem.
"We cannot yet say if there was foul play," said one senior investigator who asked not to be named. "The body was waterlogged and decomposed so we could not identify if there were any wounds or the cause of death. That will await the post-mortem," added the cop.
However, some persons claimed that they saw the body and it had multiple stab wounds.
Nice and loving
But inside the West Avenue section of Central Village, St Catherine, where Kalisha and her family call home, there was no discussion on the cause of death, just the almost unbearable pain of losing one so young.
"She was nice and loving. You see every morning when she wake up she would come in the house and say 'Good morning Grandma and Grandpa' and give us kisses," declared her grandmother, Maureen Alexander.
"When I carried her to the bus stop Wednesday morning, she waved and kissed after me and then said "later", and I smiled and told her 'later', and I never saw her back until last night, when she came over the news as a missing person," added Alexander before placing her hands on her chest and crying mournfully.
Alexander, who is grandmother to six, told our news team that Kalisha was her closest grandchild.
"When they found her she was in her uniform. Oh Jesus, and she was so loving. She always say 'I love you'," added Alexander as she continued to weep.
Kalisha was a second-grade student at the Waterford Primary School, and Alexander said teachers at the school told her that her granddaughter never made it for classes that Wednesday morning.
Her mother, 23-year-old mother Kolien Taffe, started to worry when Kalisha did not return home at her usual 3:30 in the afternoon.
Taffe's fears grew when she saw her friend's daughter, who told her that she did not see Kalisha in class or at school that day.
This prompted the worried mother to file a missing-person report with the police and sparked an islandwide search that ended last Friday.
"Kalisha would kiss everyone and tell them 'later' while waving at us. She always said to me, 'Mommy, anytime I get older I am going to take care of you, my little sister and Grandma and Grandpa', then kissed me," said Taffe, as she fought a losing battle to hold back the tears.
"How can someone be that evil to just kill a child in cold blood and throw her in a swamp?" questioned Taffe, as the tears now flowed freely.
Neighbours gathered at the family house also described Kalisha as a "little angel".