WHEN 13-year-old Shanoya Wray left home quietly on the night of July 15, her relatives — who quickly reported her missing — had no clue she would not return home alive.
Not once during the week in which they awaited her return did they think that she would have turned up dead and that her alleged killer would be Trinidadian teacher, Sanju Maharaj, who is currently before the court on a sex charge with her as the complainant.
“I thought she would come back home; I wasn’t thinking that [she would be dead] at all,” said Wray’s mother, Shana-Hay Hall, who was in tears as she spoke with the Jamaica Observer yesterday from her family home on Tavern Drive in Kingston.
The teen’s grandmother, Sylvia Campbell, who was also in tears, said, “Everyday we call Biffy (Shanoya), even though she nuh answer. [It seemed] the phone was locked off from the Monday, but we a say Biffy must answer.”
“ The morning after she gone we never did a tek it fi nothing, ’cause pickney go bout dem business and come back, so you expect har fi come back the Monday. You a look fi har a come in a the day or in the evening, but everytime dem call Biffy no answer,” Shanoya’s aunt Lisa-Gaye Hall.
But five days later the family’s hope quickly turned to heart-rending grief when relatives were asked to submit to DNA testing which confirmed that the skeletal remains that were found soaking in a bathtub with chemicals at premises on Walley Close, in Kingston, on July 20 belonged to the missing teenager.
Hall, who said she has been unable to eat or sleep properly since her daughter’s death, said the police were only able to recover few pieces of bone and a skull.
“The doctor say if it did stay one more day no bone wouldn’t leave, and no smell wouldn’t be there,” she said.
The police were alerted to the remains by a neighbour who was concerned about an unpleasant stench from next door after cleaning his home. The neighbour reportedly a used a ladder to climb up and peep through a window over into the premises and made the unfortunate discovery.
According to Hall, based on the state of the remains, she was informed that an autopsy could not be done. The police, she said, have since theorised that a caustic substance was used to burn the teen’s body.
She said that she was also told by the police that neighbours had allegedly seen a man burning female clothing and braids. Her daughter, she said, was wearing braids at the time she went missing
“We just can’t believe how the man burn up the child, ’cause even the bone weh left back dem say no substance no inna the bone, so if the neighbour never find it even the next 10 years we wouldn’t find her or know what happen to her, and dem would haffi just throw out the case,” said the child’s aunt, shaking her head.
A 19-year-old resident of Harbour View in Kingston, Lenardo Madden, believed to be a close friend of the Trinidadian and who was allegedly at the house when the police made the gruesome discovery was later charged along with Maharaj with murder, accessory after the fact, and misprison of felony.
The Trinidadian teacher was arrested and charged last year after Shanoya was found at his home a day after she did return home from school.
She said around October of last year her daughter, who was then a 12-year-old grade seven student at New Day All-Age School did not come home after school.
Maharaj, who was on teaching practice at the school at the time, was out on bail and had been scheduled to reappear in court this November on carnal abuse charge.
The teenager’s father, Starkey Wray, who later turned up at the home yesterday, could not hide his emotions.
“Me cyaan even tell you how I’m coping; it a mad me, it’s the worst thing ever happen to somebody I know.
“The man who kill her is really wicked; first me see a man wicked like that: how you can kill a child like that?”
Similar sentiments were expressed by Shanoya’s older sister, Correy-Ann Morgan, 15.
“It just nuh feel right just to know how she innocent and to know what she go through; maybe if a did something like sickness kill her we wouldn’t feel like we do now, ’cause we not even know how she died. We just imagine the pain that she went through before she die; it’s just hard.”
She described her sister as always pleasant.
“It’s like certain things in a life hard for me to do now. Me try me best not to think about it, but it is like something come in my head back and I can’t be happy to the fullest again,” Morgan said.
The family, meanwhile, is hoping they will get justice in the court.
The two accused are expected to appear in court tomorrow.