Crime of passion ends in suicide

The house where Claudia and Oswald lived in a tumultuous relationship that ended in violence. (Photo by Bill Mortley)

Traversing through select areas in Barre St Joseph, Ti Colon is not easy task on a day filled with torrential rains and uncooperative winds. This week following news that a man wanted by police for stabbing his girlfriend and dropping a brick on her mother’s head had apparently committed suicide, a STAR team set out to follow up.
Large portions of the road leading to the area where one of the victims, Claudia Anthony lived with the late Oswald Steven Tobierre appeared washed away and it was a slippery trip downhill, and an even trickier return climbing back to the top of the hill.
Before getting to Claudia directions had to be sought from neighbours, some volunteering information about the incident along the way. One woman said Tobierre had a contract working on a drain near her house and she’d seen him there on Monday morning, two days before he attacked Claudia and her mother Adrianna Thomas.
The elderly woman said Tobierre had been working, and talking to himself “like somebody that was going mad.” After seeing him drink nothing but water all day, she’d offered him something to eat. He declined, and they engaged in conversation for a short time. It was at that point she learnt Tobierre and her neighbour Claudia were in a relationship. The next day the woman says Tobierre returned to work. She offered him tea at one point and he refused again saying he couldn’t drink it because he had a lot on his mind.
“He told me Sharon (Claudia) put him out,” the neighbour said. “I told him if she put you out, go your way. That was the first time I ever really talk to him. I told him he should go and look for somewhere else to stay. He told me he loved her and they had no problems. He wanted me to call her and talk to her for him, ask her for another chance.”
Claudia and Oswald were together for just over a year and her close friend said “in the beginning it was a good relationship, but after a while things changed.”
The friend said Tobierre started doing things Claudia didn’t like, wound up getting fired from his job and things progressed steadily downhill. One of Claudia’s friends said he was controlling to the point that he had to be everywhere she went.
According to Claudia’s friend, Tobierre would steal money from her, search her drawers to find out things and that was when Claudia “started to have a funny feeling toward him.”
“He threatened her and told her if he knew she talked to anybody, he’d kill her and then kill himself,” her friend said. “He’d stand and watch her when she was at work. I told her sometimes he have a past you don’t know and you have to dig deeper for you to find out.”
The friend said Tobierre would search through Claudia’s phone to a point where he diverted all calls from her phone to his. She later found out what he’d done and went to the phone company where she was told whoever changed the setting had also put a code to keep it that way. Claudia was forced to buy another SIM card, and her close friend says that was the point her then live-in boyfriend started getting really furious.
“If her phone rang he had to answer it. She could not answer her phone,” she said. “I told her, but you’re a child in your own home!”
To make matters worse, Claudia’s friend said Tobierre had formed the conclusion Claudia was having an affair with a coworker. The coworker in question worked as a security guard, and in her defense, Claudia’s friend said the older man had just been someone Claudia could talk to about what she was going through.
“She was not having an affair,” she said matter-of-factly. “He believed it was an affair and called the man on the phone and started telling him things. She couldn’t tell him anything because it would cause more problems. Sometimes because of her job she’d have to go with a security guard to deposit money. Tobierre saw her doing that with her coworker one night and he was not pleased. She told him that was her work; she had to go with him. He told her he’d kill the man, kill her, then kill himself.”
On the Sunday before the incident, Claudia had to report to work for stocktaking. Tobierre felt she was lying to go see someone else and tried to strangle her in her sleep when she got home that night. The next day Claudia did not return to her home in Ti Colon, she spent the night with her mother in Bois Patat. For Claudia that was the last straw and she returned home with her mother with intentions to get him out of her house.
“She told me he’d asked her for one week,” Claudia’s friend said. “She told me after giving him the week, she would sleep by her mother. I asked her why you bring your mother to take him out? I said sometimes that week is to kill you because you know he threaten you already. I told her the best thing to do is get the police. She said “awa,” she didn’t think it would come to that.”
An early morning of horrors began at around 3am Wednesday morning. Claudia and her mother hadn’t gone back to Bois Patat on Tuesday night. Adrianna woke up in the wee hours to ask Tobierre why the television was so loud, then she went back to bed. Some time later he came to ask her for a pillow, then dropped a brick on the older woman’s head. She rolled off the bed to a position between the bed and the wall. Thinking Claudia’s mother was unconscious, he moved to Claudia, attempting to cut her throat. Claudia’s two-year-old daughter was also in the house at the time and the mother of two refused to give up, fighting back and holding the knife away from her neck her fingers getting cut in the process. Adrianna got up, kicked their attacker in the groin, picked up the brick and threw it after him. The two women managed to escape from the house, Adrianna through the window and Claudia still under the
attack on her way out.
According to Claudia’s sister Doris Daniel who lived next door, by the time she made her way outside with a brick in hand ready to defend her family Tobierre was already fleeing from the scene and her sister and mother were covered in blood. Family members were called and they were both transported to hospital.
When asked whether she’d ever advised her friend to get out of the relationship, Claudia’s friend hesitated: “Yes, but she say she love him. It’s the controlling she didn’t like. He didn’t want her to talk to anybody. When she came by me he’d ask her, “What you doing there?” then tell her it was time for her to come (down) home. Before he cut her, he told her he was going to kill her. One day she was going to work, there was a fella walking behind them. When he drop her and go, the fella run and call her and ask her: “You friendly to that man?” She said “yeah,” then he told her, “Let me tell you something, that man looking a gun to kill you.”
“When she confronted him he said he told the fella he was going to kill her but he didn’t say about the gun. I wouldn’t sleep in a house with a man like that. You can kill me. You doing things behind my back and still telling me you didn’t say it. Maybe she didn’t believe he said it, you know sometimes when you’re in love, it gets the better part of you.”
Doris said she’d stopped him in the past to warn him about hitting her sister. She revealed Tobierre lost his job at the end of 2010, and from that time he’d started drinking and smoking heavily. Doris said Tobierre may have been drunk that day, and she remembers hearing her sister’s screams piercing through the early morning, just before her husband called the police.
“My sister and I have always been close, but when I started pushing myself she started turning against me,” she said. “I ended up arguing with him once trying to protect her. I could sense something wasn’t right. He entered the house too fast. Something was wrong, but she was in love . . . One day I told her she didn’t look happy. She told me it wasn’t because of him; it was something to do with her job. Anything you told her about him she’d say it wasn’t true.
“I spoke to her on Wednesday morning and she’s doing a little better,” Doris continued. “I was upset, shocked at the same time. My mother is much better. We had a family gathering on Sunday and my sister laughed once or twice and my mother told her that’s a nice sign. She was in so much pain.”
With directions and a “maybe she’ll talk to you when you get there” we made our way to meet Claudia in Bois Patat. When we got there Claudia’s 21-year-old son was understandably protective of his mother, informing us that she didn’t want to talk. Claudia came outside to meet with us briefly and when asked if she felt a sense of relief now that her ordeal was over she simply nodded. She didn’t wish to go into the details of the incident just yet and when asked how she’d gathered the strength to keep the knife away from her neck she responded: “That self, I don’t want to talk about that.”
Her son who was standing by her side the entire time said his mother cried every time she spoke about the incident. Her injuries were plain to see, her arm in a cast concealing stitched fingers, eyes bloodshot and scars from the knife wounds across her chest. Her son was taking time off work to nurse his mother back to health and he was still upset about the incident, but said he felt better now knowing his mother’s life was no longer at risk.
“You’re trying to soften her up,” he said when the STAR photographer let Claudia know she wasn’t alone in her situation, and that there were other women with similar experiences, some still caught in those types of relationships who her story could reach out to.
“Maybe some other time, but not right now,” she said.
Tobierre, a Fond Assau resident, committed suicide by slashing his throat with a knife at Desruisseaux, quarter of Micoud on Saturday, April 23, three days after  he had attacked Claudia and her mother.

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