Haile Selassie student delivered cryptic message before death
Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer
"It must be me who is going to die," said 14-year-old Haile Selassie High School student Shariefa Saddler less than 14 hours before her battered body was hurled from a motor car, just about a mile away from her home on Lothiam Avenue, sending shockwaves through the Kingston 11 area.
Shariefa's cryptic comment was reportedly in response to a remark about the inevitability of death during a prayer meeting at her house on Joshua Edwards Avenue in Tower Hill, Olympic Gardens.
Shariefa's eldest sister, 22-year-old Kimona Saddler, and an adult cousin, Wendy, wondered whether those comments from Shariefa, described as quiet, were a premonition, an omen, or if the young student was being threatened but too afraid to speak.
Kimona remembered that on Wednesday morning when Shariefa left for school, she had to "turn back" because she had forgot her lunch money.
"Why didn't she stay home," lamented the grief-stricken young woman.
The chilling news was just too much for a community, well acquainted with more than its fair share of grief.
"No matter what, a little girl never dead this way in here," declared a young man.
"Me see it in the media, but if anyone told me that come ya so, me woulda tell them a lie," bemoaned Pamela Cunningham-Saddler, Shariefa's mother.
Five years ago, Cunningham-Saddler had to mourn the death of her husband, Rupert Saddler, and was left alone to tend to five children - all girls. Now, her second-to-last daughter has been brutally snatched away, leaving a grief-stricken mother and other family members asking for answers.
While condemning Shariefa's murder, the Ministry of Education yesterday encouraged parents to ensure that children walk in groups in their daily commute so they can see, assist and protect each other.
Shariefa had reportedly last been seen at a bus stop talking to a man.
The ministry said a trauma response team had been instructed to visit the school and offer grief counselling services and support to the students and teachers who had been affected by the incident.