Tue | Jun 28, 2022

BARBARIC! Cops hold person of interest in Cocoa Piece massacre

Published:Wednesday | June 22, 2022 | 12:15 AMAndre Williams/Staff Reporter
Gwendolyn Wright is comforted as she mourns the loss of her only daughter, 31-year-old Kemesha Wright, and her four children in Cocoa Piece, Clarendon, on Tuesday.
Gwendolyn Wright is comforted as she mourns the loss of her only daughter, 31-year-old Kemesha Wright, and her four children in Cocoa Piece, Clarendon, on Tuesday.
Police chief Antony Anderson comforts JDF Private Kishawn Henry Sr (back to camera) in Cocoa Piece.
Police chief Antony Anderson comforts JDF Private Kishawn Henry Sr (back to camera) in Cocoa Piece.
Commissioner of Police Major General Antony Anderson (left) and Deputy Commissioner Fitz Bailey (third left) look on intensely at the Clarendon crime scene where five persons were murdered.
Commissioner of Police Major General Antony Anderson (left) and Deputy Commissioner Fitz Bailey (third left) look on intensely at the Clarendon crime scene where five persons were murdered.
Jamaica Defence Force Private Kishawn Henry Sr, father of the slain 23-month-old infant, arrives on the crime scene in Cocoa Piece with his brother Adrian Henry.
Jamaica Defence Force Private Kishawn Henry Sr, father of the slain 23-month-old infant, arrives on the crime scene in Cocoa Piece with his brother Adrian Henry.
Cocoa Piece in New Road, Clarendon.
Cocoa Piece in New Road, Clarendon.
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The 55-year-old fisherman dad of Kemesha Wright, who was slain along with her four children in the rural district of Cocoa Piece on Tuesday, is still grappling with the gruesome Clarendon bloodbath days after his daughter wished him Happy Father’s Day on Sunday.

“Mi call her and she tell mi say, ‘Daddy, mi glad you call mi … Mi remember the brown-stew fish and the rice and peas. Nobody can’t cook like you,’” Peter Wright said of their last conversation.

Two days later, he and other relatives are paralysed with shock after the throats of 31-year-old Kemesha, an Edwin Allen High graduate, and her children were slashed and they were left for dead.

“You hear ‘bout these things all the while, but mi never know it a go deh a my doorway. It deh yah now, but a five gone,” he said philosophically, adding that he wanted to exact jungle justice against the killer who has left his family in grief.

Investigators theorise that all five – including Kimanda Smith, 15; Sharalee Smith, 12; Rafaela Smith, five; and 23-month-old Kishawn Henry Jr – were attacked while they slept.

Some residents of Cocoa Piece had long nursed a healthy distrust and dislike of Roshane Barnett, who has been named as a person of interest in the massacre.

Nicknamed ‘Jet’, the 23-year-old Barnett lived at the death house off New Road in the parish. He was detained in Trelawny late Tuesday evening.

Relatives and the police suspect that a domestic dispute sparked the massacre.

Residents told our news team the accused was seen sharpening a knife hours before and even reportedly uttered, “Mi must kill somebody.”

Gwendolyn McKnight, Wright’s mother, wept all day as family, friends, and government ministers took turns comforting her.

McKnight told The Gleaner that it was a phone call from her son-in-law that alerted her that something was wrong.

Kemesha was McKnight’s only daughter and the four were her only grandchildren.

“Mi can’t manage it, di boy weh we feed, him massacre mi only daughter and mi only grandchildren dem,” she said in rage.

The Gleaner was informed that it was Wright’s brother who first stumbled on the gruesome discovery as the bodies were found in different sections of the house.

Kemesha was found under a bed, seemingly trying, in vain, to evade her attacker.

Woodrow Campbell, uncle to the youngest child, told The Gleaner that the suspect slept in the settee Monday night.

“She sell her juice and him want have him own way, so she stop him and tell him nothing in here a nuh fi you. That’s nothing fi say him can’t come back inna the house or anything,” Campbell said on an overseas call with his aunt who tried to make sense of the onslaught.

Campbell said he last saw his nephew alive two weeks ago when he drove him in his lap and dropped him off at home after a short excursion.

Wright was described as a young woman with a magnetic personality who was sometimes too accepting and naive.

“Probably a that take her life, you know. Accommodating, she too accommodating,” Campbell said.

Hundreds of residents and curious onlookers surrounded the death house in the rural community on Tuesday. Some took to rooftops, eager to get a better vantage point as the five bodies were stretchered from the house to the morgue.

The air was heavy with declarations of vengeance and vigilante justice on Tuesday – a sentiment Senior Superintendent Glenford Miller, commander of the Clarendon Police Division, sought to discourage with appeals for calm and restraint.

“Dat deh boy deh fi chop and mince up! Him a wicked! Di people dem feed him and take him in,” a resident said on Tuesday.

Deputy Commissioner of Police Fitz Bailey confirmed that Barnett was involved in a stabbing incident with his father but that the matter was disposed of by the court after his dad opted not to pursue the matter.

Crime chief for Trelawny, Deputy Superintendent of Police Winston Milton, said that Barnett was not on the police’s radar in the parish.

The police combed the area and found the murder weapon, a knife, and bloodied clothes in nearby bushes.

An investigator told The Gleaner that the bloody clothes matched ones often worn by the accused.

Denise McCain, deputy superintendent, administrative officer, and psychologist for the Police Chaplaincy Services Branch, was on hand to give support to the law enforcers and their family.

The slain infant’s father, Kishawn Henry Sr, and uncle are service members, JDF and JCF, respectively.

“We also want to ensure that all the matters are handled today in a way that will help to stabilise them and not to cause any unnecessary anger or anguish,” McCain to The Gleaner.

Child Protection and Family Services Agency began meeting with relatives and students to provide psychosocial and financial assistance.

andre.williams@gleanerjm.com