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Missionaries not scared - Americans pledge to continue work in Jamaica despite murders of countrymen

Published:Tuesday | May 10, 2016 | 5:00 AMEdmond Campbell
Glenmore Hinds, deputy commissioner of police.

Glenmore Hinds, deputy commissioner of police, expressed confidence yesterday that the police will soon make a breakthrough in the killings of two United States (US) missionaries in St Mary just over a week ago.

At the same time, a senior member of the clergy in America has indicated that his organisation will not scale down its mission to Jamaica as a result of the gruesome incident.

Yesterday, Hinds told The Gleaner that a team of senior local police investigators and their US counterparts were analysing additional information they collected after revisiting the scene where the men, Randy Hentzel and Harold Nichols, were killed.

"Investigators, both local scene-of-crime and our US counterparts, revisited the scene on Saturday and are now analysing collected material, and we are also canvassing for witnesses," he said.

"We are analysing the information that we have collected and reviewing all we have had so far, but we are confident that we will make a breakthrough soon," Hinds sought to assure the nation.

He said the assistance being provided by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation was proving "quite useful", and noted that "it is always good to have other persons looking at what you do, sharing ideas and sharing methods [of investigation]".

John Key, president of the board of CSI Ministries in the United States, an affiliate of the medical mission of which the missionaries were part, said despite the loss of Nichols and Hentzel, his organisation would continue to encourage people, including missionaries in the US, to visit Jamaica to carry out faith-based activities.

"We are just encouraging people to still go to Jamaica, to not give up on coming to Jamaica, because we love the Jamaican people," he said.

Key told The Gleaner that the CSI would continue to send groups to Jamaica every month, pointing out that no scheduled visit has been cancelled, owing to the killing of the two missionaries.

Asked how religious leaders in the US have been reacting to the incident, Key said it has been difficult for them, and that the religious community had lost two good friends.

The CSI, a Christian organisation, visits Jamaica to build homes for the dispossessed, and repair orphanages, clinics, schools and churches.

The group also carries out work in Belize and the US.

At the same time, the Reverend Dr Gordon Evans, president of the Jamaica Council of Churches, said the council would be meeting very shortly to discuss the incident.

"We really would want to have a serious look at the issue to see what steps we need to take to assure our partners of some degree of safety," the clergyman stated.

"I believe that the incident has created quite a negative impact, not just on the religious side, but at the national level. The kind of exposure that we have had in relation to this incident in the international press is not good at all."

Forty-eight-year-old Hentzel and 53-year-old Nichols were found dead between April 30 and May 1.

No motive has been established for the killings.

edmond.campbell@gleanerjm.com