Fri | Dec 3, 2021

‘SHE WAS CONTROLLED’

Brother said he begged slain woman to leave church

Published:Wednesday | October 20, 2021 | 12:10 AMHopeton Bucknor/Gleaner Writer
Thirty-nine-year-old Taneka Gardner, who was killed during a religious ritual at a Montego Bay Church on Sunday.
Meakof Jarrett, the elder brother of Taneka Gardner.
Bishop Dr Kevin O. Smith.
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WESTERN BUREAU: Meakof Jarrett, the elder brother of 39-year-old Taneka Gardner, the woman whose throat was slashed during a sacrificial ritual at the Pathways International Kingdom Restoration Ministries in Paradise, Montego Bay, St James, on...

WESTERN BUREAU:

Meakof Jarrett, the elder brother of 39-year-old Taneka Gardner, the woman whose throat was slashed during a sacrificial ritual at the Pathways International Kingdom Restoration Ministries in Paradise, Montego Bay, St James, on Sunday, said he warned his sister that he was having misgivings about Bishop Kevin O. Smith.

When The Gleaner visited Gardner's family home in Kensington, St James, yesterday, her brother and other family members were still in shock, still trying to process the brutal manner in which she was killed.

Jarrett told The Gleaner that he attended the Pathway International Church on more than one occasion, at the invitation of his sister. However, he said that he was not impressed by how Smith led the services so he stopped attending and also urged his sister to cut ties with the church.

“My sister is very humble, very hard-working, and she believes in God, but since she has been attending that church, it look like she get controlled by the pastor,” charged Jarrett. “She has been attending that church from a long time, even after she leave up here and go live in Flankers.”

According to Jarrett, on his first visit to the church, he felt something was not right when he saw large sums of money being tossed on the ground in a manner that was lacking in reverence.

“Mi seh, 'No. Is like all the members a pay some dues or something',” said Jarrett. “After them drop all a dem money, I see a lady come and tek up everything. I was shocked because mi see some man all a drop them entire wallet … . That time the pastor him just sit down like ... him a some king or God.

“Mi all hear dem have fi a call the man 'His Excellency', so mi a seh sinting nuh real, so mi stop go up deh. Dem even a try invite mi and mi wife back up deh, but no sah, mi neva go back because something nuh real,” added Jarrett.

He said that other things that did not sit well with him, including the fact that Smith sometimes spoke with different accents and dressed like characters seen in African movies.

“Even when you go a di church, if you even want go a bathroom, you have fi ask permission. It is like everybody inna prison, and him a de king fi the prison.”

Gardner was one of three persons who died at the church on Sunday, with at least two having their throats slashed by a male church member. A third person reportedly died as the police stormed the location to bring an end to the bloody affair.

Jarrett said one of his aunts had joined Gardener at the church and they would get angry at him whenever he told them about his discomfort with the manner in which services were being conducted.

“I don't know how true it is, but me hear seh mi aunty witness the man cut her throat so mi want know how she feel right yah now. Mi sure seh she can't face wi after this.”

Jarrett also told The Gleaner that some time ago, one of his uncles got sick and was encouraged to visit Smith for prayer. However, when he went there, he was told he had to make an appointment and that he would have to pay for the service.

According to Jarrett, his sister's death is haunting him and he is finding it difficult to sleep.

He also said that he has not told his mother, who is very ill, about his sister's demise, out of fear that it could make her condition worse.

Jarrett is happy that Smith is in custody and he wants to see him face harsh justice for his sister's death, which he is holding him accountable for.

“Dem man deh a devil,” he said of persons associated with the church. “Him nuh fi out a door … . Dem fi stay a prison and don't come out. Dem kinda people deh can't deh pon the society.”

Up to late yesterday, no charges had been laid for the deaths, although a number of persons, including the church leader, remained in police custody.

hopeton.bucknor@gleanerjm.com