Aug 17, 1999
Madame Leon slain
Glenroy Sinclair, Staff Reporter
MADAME ROSE LEON, one of Jamaica's most colourful politicians, and a prominent cosmetic industrialist, was slain early yesterday morning in her St. Andrew home.
The killing sent shock waves throughout the society barely recovering from a series of high-profile murders in recent weeks.
Violent death came to Madame Leon, 87, in the bedroom of her sprawling Mount Atlas home along Frazers Avenue, Cooper's Hill. Her body was discovered lying on the floor near her bed with both her hands and feet bound with wire. Her mouth was stuffed with a piece of cloth. A release from the Police Commissioner's office said she was strangled to death.
The police say they suspect that the killers might have known their way around the house and were perhaps known to Madame Leon. They gained entry to the six-bedroom house by using rope to lower themselves through one of the five skylights, which led them to a passage near Madame Leon's bedroom. They apparently then prised open a grill leading to her bedroom.
According to police, the crime occurred between 1:00 a.m. and 3:00 a.m. Madame Leon's 66-year-old chauffeur/caretaker, who occupied another section of the house, reported hearing strange sounds outside shortly after 1:00 a.m.
He reported that things quietened down, but that he again heard strange sounds around 3:00 a.m.
"I heard the dogs barking and the car alarm went off. I looked outside and saw two men, I tried to call the police but they (the intruders) had cut the telephone line. If I had a cellular phone, probably the police would have caught them," said the driver.
The chauffeur said his movements were restricted as there is a grill separating his living quarters from Madame Leon's and that normally she is the one who keeps the keys. He said he raised another alarm about 7:00 a.m. and neighbours alerted the police who arrived on the scene about half an hour later.
The household helper, who had the weekend off, said at nights Madame Leon would lock up the house and did not allow anyone to let visitors in or out. The police are working on the theory that robbery was the motive as there are reports of a television set missing from the house, along with a green pick-up van which the intruders used to escape from the premises.
A woman who identified herself as Madame Leon's secretary, said she had collected $14,000 last Friday and given it to her employer. Policemen told The Gleaner yesterday that they found no evidence of the money while conducting investigations inside the bedroom.
Madame Leon served as a Minister of Health and Housing in the Jamaica Labour Party government of the 1950s before switching political allegiance in 1966 to the People's National Party. She subsequently served as Minister of Local Government in the Michael Manley administration between 1972 and 1976.
Throughout her years of public service, she continued her primary business as a manufacturer of cosmetics and operator of the Leon School of Beauty Culture.