Thu | Aug 24, 2017

Pity for killers - Widow of murdered missionary feels sorrow for slayers

Published:Tuesday | May 3, 2016 | 5:00 AMOrantes Moore and Livern Barrett
Teri and Harold Nichols with some of the young men their missionary work has helped in St Mary.
Randy Hentzel, one of the two American missionaries killed in St Mary.
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The widow of a missionary who was found murdered in Albion Mountain, northwest St Mary, on Sunday says she feels sorry for her husband's killers.

Teri Nichols, whose husband, Harold, was discovered bound and with head injuries, believes that some good must come from the killing, and has urged local residents to refrain from violent retaliation.

"Personally, I don't feel angry. Maybe there's a stage where, at some point, I'm going to be ticked off, but I feel sad for whoever committed this terrible crime. They don't know what they were doing or who they were doing it to.

The police found the bodies of American Christian missionaries Harold Nichols, 53, and Randy Hentzel, 48, in the bushes of the rural community of Albion Mountain, 24 hours apart.

The nation's police chief, Dr Carl Williams, last night signalled that local investigators are prepared to accept assistance from their international partners, and vowed that the killers will be caught.

However, despite an offer from United States Ambassador to Luis G. Moreno to provide aid to the Jamaica Constabulary Force, Williams indicated that the probe was still in the hands of local investigators and said a team had been dispatched to St Mary to help with the probe.

"We will move to engage the international community and our international partners as necessary. At this time, we are still ascertaining the basic facts of the case," he said during an emergency press conference at his St Andrew offices yesterday evening.

"If there is anything that we need to reach out to them [international partners] for, we will, and I do believe we will have the need to reach out to them," he added.

Speaking from her home in Boscobel, Teri Nichols, 53, told The Gleaner: "In the past 48 hours, many people's lives have been turned upside down. The community and the people my husband has devoted his life to are feeling a big loss.

"I think I'm still in work mode where I'm taking care of everybody else right now, but I'm cognisant that when all these people leave and I'm going to be alone, it's going to be real hard. Right now, I'm worried about my four children back in the United States, who are very angry and upset."

Meantime, Nichols has expressed confidence that her husband's murder will result in good. "I know God works all things to the good, and that Harold's life will never be defined by its last 15 minutes. God had a purpose in his life and I just feel good things are going to come out of this."

She added: "I believe with all my heart that people are going to come to the Lord because of this, and I think it's going to have a huge impact, which is already happening, so it's not in vain.

"I can't waste time thinking about [my husband's killers] or the actual crime. I just know my husband died doing what he loved, and was on his motorcycle, which made it a double win, because he loved that thing."

Nichols said that she and her husband have lived in Jamaica since 2002, and recently returned from a vacation in Columbia where they celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary.

As she makes arrangements for her husband's funeral, Nichols plans to continue her work with the Teams for Medical Missions group, and hopes his death will not discourage other volunteers from travelling to Jamaica.

She said: "I've lived here for 14 years and never had experienced any kind of violence or anything that would make me fearful. Whoever committed this atrocity is a couple of people out of 2.8 million. It would be a very big leap for people to say: 'You can't go to Jamaica because two missionaries were killed.'"

The commissioner of police said no motive has yet been identified for the killings and police investigators were still unclear how the men died.

"We have no indication that they were shot, but we have autopsies scheduled for tomorrow morning [Tuesday]," he said.