By Makeida Antonio
The family of Vincia James, a New Winthorpes woman who went missing over four years ago, has claimed that they have been forced to relive their nightmare following a breakthrough in the case last week.
In an exclusive interview with Observer, her mother, Jeriann Haywood, shared her pain and displeasure with the manner in which the family learned of the shocking new
development after a fisherman found Vincia’s identification cards in a pond in the North Sound area last Thursday.
She said that the family is very upset that they were not the first to be informed.
“It all came back like the very first day. Knowing that we could have been the first person to contact instead of hearing it on the media. Hearing it from the police wouldn’t have made much of a difference but at least I could have heard it from them before hearing it on the airwaves.”
The grief-stricken mother wanted those in charge of handling the investigation to know that life without Vincia has not been the same since the last time she was seen in 2017 and if she does not come home alive, the family expects justice by the system.
“The only resolution I want is to see Vincia walk through my door. That would be the best resolution for me right now. We are keeping hopes up high but if not, I expect to see justice served because we have been suffering for the last four and a-half years. It hasn’t been easy. Every birthday, Christmas and family gathering and she’s not there is a heartbreak for us,” she expressed.
Haywood announced on Observer’s Snakepit programme Saturday night that she and her family had received threatening calls on Friday via two numbers that were placed on the missing person’s flyer so that Vincia’s relatives could be contacted if anyone had any information regarding her whereabouts.
“Yesterday morning, after 10 o’clock, my son got a missed call on his phone from a private number telling him ‘if my cousin goes back to jail the whole family will go missing’. My phone had the missed call, too, but I did not get the phone call I only saw it after a while because they called my phone first,” Jerriann recounted.
The mother of the missing woman disclosed that she made a report to the police about this threat, however, the police have not kept the family up to date with tracking the phone call.
Neither she or her family have been offered any special protection from the lawmen, she added. She also said that she does not understand why anyone would make such threats because she has been suffering in silence with sleepless nights since Vincia’s disappearance.
“They said that they are going to see if they can get the number and get back to us. That shouldn’t have to take so long. They should have gotten back to us by today [Saturday].”
Additionally, the family would like some communication as to whether or not the person suspected of being responsible for Vincia’s disappearance will be brought in by police for further questioning and when the authorities will continue search efforts for her remains which have been reportedly not found as yet.
Commissioner of Police Atlee Rodney spoke to Observer and gave some insight into the proper protocols that should have been taken regarding such a sensitive matter.
“We normally have a liaison person who would contact the family and any new development, any new aspect of the investigation, we are in contact with the family. With this incident, the information was out to the public even before the liaison officer could have the information to speak to [the family]. Even before some senior officers knew the information, there was already a post on social media,” according to Rodney.
The Police Commissioner has warned media houses across Antigua and Barbuda against competing to release information to the public without taking into consideration of how the news will impact the loved ones of those involved in gruesome incidents such as crime and car accidents.
He also advised members of the public against sharing graphic images when these unfortunate developments occur.
Meanwhile, Rodney said that the police will continue to practice diligence in delivering customer service to the citizens and residents of Antigua and Barbuda.
“I think the police force is very committed to giving better service. In everything that we do from administrative aspect to our operational aspect is to give better quality service and we need the public to continue working with us,” the police commissioner said.