Mon | Apr 6, 2020

11-y-o boy found dead - Grief sweeps Temple Hall

Published:Saturday | February 1, 2020 | 12:19 AMDanae Hyman/Gleaner Writer
A resident holds a photo of Mark Leslie, the 11-year-old Mannings Hill Primary student who was found dead in Temple Hall.
Crime-scene investigators walk towards the area where the body of 11-year-old Mark Leslie was found in Temple Hall, St Andrew, on Friday.
1
2

Mystery surrounds the death of 11-year-old Mark Leslie, whose body was found yesterday along a stream in Temple Hall, St Andrew.

Investigating officers reported that while no bruises were found on the child’s body to suggest trauma, his body appears to have been placed at the location where he was found after he was already dead.

Mark was reported missing at 10:30 p.m. on Wednesday when he did not return home from school. According to family members, checks revealed that he neither showed up to school that day nor took his usual bus in the morning.

The search came to an end yesterday morning at approximately 11:20, according to Assistant Commissioner of Police Gary Griffiths, when the boy’s body was found on a stone along a stream nearby his home.

The investigator on the case also revealed that there was blood coming from the boy’s nose.

“We all come out and a search from Thursday all day and in the night because we were destined to search the area, because from him don’t go on the JUTC (Jamaica Urban Transit Company) bus, I know he is still in the area because him not taking anything else,” a family member who asked not to be named told The Gleaner.

According to the family member, Mark had a Smarter Card bus pass that he used on the JUTC bus daily to get to school and when the family got a print-out on the cards used the day, his name was not listed.

This prompted the frantic search for the youth by teachers, residents, family, and the police.

Another relative claimed that the area where the boy’s body was found had already been searched multiple times, which initially drew the police officers to theorise that the body might have been placed there late last night.

QUIET CHILD

The grade-six Mannings Hill Primary student was described by his neighbours and family as a quiet boy who was respectful and intelligent.

The family member disclosed to The Gleaner that Mark, who was preparing to take his Primary Exit Profile (PEP) examination, was a top student at his school who received academic awards annually.

Owing to his mother’s inability to care for him because she has a mental illness, Mark was adopted by an aunt when he was younger.

However, it was reported that he was supposed to move in with his older cousins in Portmore after completing his PEP exams.

“I’m not saying we are blaming the guardians, but they were paid to keep him and take care of him and we are hearing that they allowed him one to walk more than half a mile every morning in the dark, to catch his bus at 6 a.m.,” the family member said.

Meanwhile, Karl Booth, the father of one of Mark’s classmates, said that gloom has clouded his home since hearing the news of his disappearance.

“My daughter said he is a good person, well behaved, honest, quiet and he is a person that do his work, because he is one of the top persons in the school. I feel it a lot because I am really a family man. I have to be forcing my daughter to eat something,” he said.

A devastated Juliet Cuthbert-Flynn, member of parliament for St Andrew West Rural, also turned up at the scene where the boy was found.

“It is very depressing because it’s not just Mark Leslie. It’s the 8-year-old that was found dead last week. It’s the amount of children that go missing and are found murdered.

“What goes on in people’s mind to take a child and lure them and murder them like that?” the grief-stricken member of parliament said.

danae.hyman@gleanerjm.com