Tue | Jun 18, 2019

Killer hubby was serial abuser - Years of beating end tragically in murder-suicide

Published:Thursday | April 11, 2019 | 12:33 AMAndre Wright
Members of the Waltham Park New Testament Church of God, Merline Howell (facing camera) and Racquel Dinham (right), console a 12-year-old schoolgirl, who witnessed the murder of her mother in Kingston yesterday.
Rouleene Clarke Gowans
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“Me just want to kiss mi mother.”

That was the pithy utterance from a 12-year-old girl as she stared listlessly while in the middle of Willow Drive, outside her Kingston 11 home, orphaned after witnessing her father gun down her mom on the sidewalk along Waltham Park Road yesterday morning.

Glassy-eyed and shell-shocked, she sat on the steps of an entrance room, seemingly replaying the gruesome incident moments earlier, about 7:30, when, despite her screams to her mom, Rouleene Clarke Gowans, to run for her life, Patrick Gowans shot her fatally at point-blank range before killing himself.

The preteen, who was scheduled to sit a test yesterday, said the Gowanses’ marriage had unravelled into a tempestuous tug of war filled with threats and beatings, a narrative corroborated by Clarke Gowans’ family. They describe the enraged father as a possessive and obsessive serial abuser who beat 42-year-old Clarke Gowans regularly.

The couple were both correctional officers.

The grisly end was ominously predicted a day earlier, according to Horace Copeland, Clarke Gowans’ half-brother.

“He said to me, ‘You know how long mi coulda kill you sister, but if mi kill you sister, a you mi a diss’,” Copeland quoted Gowans as saying on Tuesday.

Copeland said he subsequently warned Gowans that he would hunt him down if he harmed his sister.

“‘You can’t hide from me. If you have to kill somebody, kill yourself.’ That’s the conversation we had out here yesterday,” Copeland told The Gleaner yesterday.

Copeland and Melford Clarke, father to Rouleene, painted a graphic picture of years of torment and torture and their failed attempts to save the abused woman from the dysfunctional family home in Portmore, St Catherine. Clarke, 70, who has 15 other children, said the litany of abuse and threats had been reported to the Waterford and Cross Roads police stations.

“For years now, she and the man have problems, problems in the sense that him keep on beating her, draw him gun on her,” said Copeland, who sought to give comfort to grieving friends gathered at the family’s Willow Drive house yesterday.

Copeland said that he had long warned his sister to end the stormy marriage. In fact, he said that he was so incensed that his sister had secretly got married to Gowans, his schoolmate from Haile Selassie High, that he refused to speak with her for a few years.

“Them hide and go married. Mi did vex!” said Copeland. “I don’t go to their house. I don’t deal with her. ‘You a go make the man kill you? Lef’ the place!’” Copeland said, recounting the multiple warnings he gave Clarke Gowans.

As family and friends milled around, a grief-stricken Melford Clarke sat with infant grandchildren on his lap while breaking the news via phone call to relatives.

But in between conversations, he looked on blankly, saying to himself, “What have I done to deserve this?”

Clarke said pleas to his daughter, affectionately called ‘Donna’, to flee from her husband had fallen on deaf ears until she could take no more. The couple, who had been married for about 15 years, became estranged a few months ago, and she returned to her father’s home.

“Him beat her up over there all the while. It’s a man weh love to beat and carry in woman,” said Clarke. “Him come in with woman, and Donna couldn’t take it no more. So me say, ‘Come home. Leave him with everything there. Come home.’”

andre.wright@gleanerjm.com