'Everyone is just blaming me', cries mother of slain schoolgirl Shantae Skyers
Danae Hyman, Online Reporter
It was expected to hear how the St Andrew West Rural community of Sterling Castle can better protect its children but Crystal Service, the mother of murdered schoolgirl Shantae Skyers, left a police organised forum last evening feeling angry.
"Everyone is just blaming me,” Service told The Gleaner after the town hall at the Sterling Castle New Testament Church of God.
Two Tuesdays ago, her eight-year-old daughter was found murdered in bushes in a section of Sterling Castle called Blue Hole.
Five days before the discovery, the Red Hill Primary School standout was reported missing.
"I am pretty angry at this point," Service said, tears streaming down her face.
"People have been saying some mean things on Facebook about me and now people coming to the meeting and accusing me because they are not making a statement or asking a question, they are outright accusing me without any facts."
Moments earlier, Service listened as a resident who also works at the Centre for the Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse (CISOCA) said the mother of the child should be held responsible for allowing her eight-year-old child to be on the road at 10 p.m.
Which parent would allow their child to walk alone through such a lonely path as Blue Hole, which is a known deserted pathway within the community? the CISOCA cop asked.
Residents rushed to correct the assertion, saying the child disappeared around 3 p.m on her way home from school but the missing person police report was made at 10 p.m.
According to Service, the forum did more harm than good.
It was attended by members of the constabulary and representatives of state agencies with responsibility for children.
Skyers' grandmother, Norma Hylton, agreed that there were some regrettable moments at the forum.
However, she is excited about the proposals to make the community safer.
The proposals include repairing the sole street light in the community, which often malfunctions, and providing a bus to transport Red Hills Primary students in the community.
"Some of the changes would have really been good when Shantae was here, even that bus from Red Hills Primary that they were talking about, Shantae needed that," Hylton said.
Community member Elecia Bethune had lamented that children were forced to walk home because of the lack of adequate transportation in the area, and the hefty charge hire taxis.
According to her, it costs $600 a day to take children to Red Hills and back.