Fri | Sep 22, 2017

Living on the edge of tension – family of missing photographer wants closure

Published:Saturday | November 7, 2015 | 11:00 AMPaul H. Williams
File Niketa Thomas
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On Monday, October 5, Niketa Thomas, his cousin Dwight Brown and another relative were at Thomas' home in the Molynes Road area. Brown, who was visiting the island, requested a lift from Thomas to Half-Way Tree. He said he was going to rent a car from some people he knew.

All three men left for Half-Way Tree about 4:30 p.m. The other male relative alighted at a spot along the way, while Thomas and Dwight continued towards Half-Way Tree. That was the last time Thomas and Dwight were seen by any relative.

A female friend of Thomas, who was a popular social photographer, said the last time she communicated with Thomas was about 5:13 p.m. and Thomas told her that he and Dwight were waiting for some people for about 20 minutes.

Tuesday, October 6, came around, and it was during the night that acquaintances started to make enquiries about his whereabouts.

When his mother and other relatives went to his home on Wednesday, the 7th, they were told other people had been asking for him. His front door was ajar, but the grille was locked.

Today is exactly one month since Thomas' family visited his home, and learnt that he is in fact missing. He celebrates his 38th birthday on the 12th of this month, making his disappearance even more poignant.

His car was found days after his disappearance in Cassia Glade, where a group of people, led by family members went to sensitise residents and to search for him.

A $500,000 reward, raised by the family, was offered through Crime Stop, but that outreach, too, proved futile.

Now, the close-knit family of 10 siblings, many nieces, nephews, cousins, in-laws, cousins, etc, are existing in great tension. It has been one month of emotional pain and uncertainty, fear for the worst news, false reports, much social-media speculation, and mischief making over the disappearance of their loved one who they say is a soft-spoken, kind, loving person, who was consumed by his work.

They are at their wits' end, as they can't imagine why someone as well-known as Thomas seemed to have disappeared without a trace, and why there is no urgency from the police to find both men.

Everton Thomas, an older brother, said nothing like this has ever happened in the family, and is frustrated with the nonchalance of the police. He said the family is pushing the police to do more.

They cannot understand why the police didn't go to Thomas' home after he was reported missing, why the place where the car was found was not treated as a crime scene, and why the police have not visited Thomas' home when it was broken into twice since he went missing.

Natalie, a sister, who flew in from Canada, said she has not had a proper night's sleep since October 8. She and others have been staying up at night, on the edge, waiting for good news. The disappearance is affecting everyone in different ways she told Family and Religion.

She recalled a younger brother bawling over the phone two weeks ago, overwhelmed by the turn of events and speculations. Thomas' 14-year-old son, she said, is in an emotional turmoil, opting not to attend school some days. She also said the family members do not feel like they are in control of the situation as there is no iota of hope.

But it is the matriarch of the family, Keleta Thomas, also called Miss Essie, who seems to be affected most. Her 9th child is missing and she said, "Nothing no harder than this," as tears welled up in her eyes, eyes dying to get a good night's sleep.

"I am distraught ... 30 days of pain, tears. Sometimes I can't eat. Every 5 o'clock in the morning mi used to call Nick. And every 5 o'clock mi a listen fi Nick call mi. Mi call Nick day before yesterday morning, expecting him to answer, an mi get voicemail. 'Ah say Nick ah need you, where are you, come home to mi, ah need yuh' ... Mi want mi son whether him dead or alive ... mi need closure," Keleta Thomas said.

familyandreligion@gleanerjm.com