Thu | Jun 21, 2018

Child killers on the loose?

Published:Sunday | February 10, 2013 | 12:00 AM

Group calls for details on clear-up rate for child murder

Arthur Hall, Senior News Editor

The failure of the police to make a breakthrough in the killing of 14-year-old Shariefa Saddler more than one week ago has prompted one children's rights group to question if enough attention is being given to catch child killers.

Saddler was abducted, sexually assaulted and murdered before her body was dumped on the streets metres from her home in the Corporate Area community of Olympic Gardens.

Hear The Children's Cry, a non-government organisation dedicated to working on the problem of missing and abducted children, says the police must say how many of the cases involving the 1,600 children killed over the past 12 years have been settled.

"We are asking the minister of national security to quickly provide the country with the statistics about the number of cases that have been cleared up," said Betty-Ann Blaine, convenor of Hear The Children's Cry.

"That information is critical to allay fears that parents and children have about the possibility of repeat child murderers," added Blaine.

"Are there child killers walking scot-free in the society? Who are they and what do they look like? How can the society be safeguarded against those killers?"

She argued that the Ministry of National Security needed to provide the nation with additional information about children killers.

"Are studies being done of any of those persons incarcerated that can provide the public with information that can save future lives? What is the profile of a child killer?" What is the average age? Are these persons school dropouts? Were they victims of child abuse themselves? Do they suffer from mental illness?"

working to catch killers

Last week, efforts to get data from the police about the number of child killings cleared up in the past four years were unsuccessful.

But head of the Corporate Area's Major Investigation Taskforce (MIT), Superintendent Michael Phipps, says investigators work diligently and professionally to catch these killers.

"We (MIT) approach all gun murders in the same way with a professional and dedicated approach," Phipps told The Sunday Gleaner as he noted that there is no special police unit to go after child killers.

He pointed to the case of four-year-old Rushaun Burford who was killed in Allman Town, Central Kingston, just over one week ago as proof that investigators are on the ball.

"We anticipate a speedy breakthrough. We have the case file ready - as soon as we arrest the main suspect we will be able to move, and we are actively searching for him," added Phipps as he pointed to the alleged killer, identified as Marlon McMillian, otherwise called 'Shooty'.

"But we need the support of all Jamaicans. To kill a four-year-old boy in that manner is really heartless and we know that people know where the killer is. We need persons to share this information with us so that we can arrest him," Phipps said.

In the past four years, 221 children have been killed across the island with an average clear-up rate for all murders of 40 per cent.