The messages kept coming in. The concern and outrage was evident all over social media. St Lucians mourned and shared the pain with the family of the late Crystal St Omer whose life was tragically cut short.
St Omer was reported missing by her family after she failed to return home on Wednesday last week. Family members confirmed that 17-year-old Crystal St Omer left her home on the morning of August 22nd for the Castries Comprehensive Secondary School where she last attended. According to her sister, Doshia St Omer, she went to collect her CXC results and was also scheduled to make a few other stops at various places afterward. She was last seen, reportedly leaving the Civil Service Credit Cooperative on the corner of Chausee and Jeremie Street.
On Saturday, as the news quickly spread around the country, citizens expressed anger, sorrow and grief which in no way can compare to what the family has had to go through after learning from the authorities, the findings of a female body in the Cap Estate area.
After “a thorough forensic investigation” was carried out by the police, the body was then taken to the morgue at the Victoria Hospital where the family was invited by the police to identify the body.
On Sunday, scores of people trickled in at the St Omer’s residence to share messages of condolence and to provide comfort for a family shaken by the outcome they had most feared. The hugs never seemed to cease as more persons walked in and out of the home triggering tears of pain and grief. With an aching arthritic arm, Crystal’s mom did not for once hesitate in extending her arms to hug even this reporter. While attempting to ask “why, why did [I have to lose her daughter,]” the tears came rushing down her cheeks as she tried to remain strong.
Virnet St Omer-Fontenelle, cousin to Crystal, described her as “a young vibrant lady” who was very precocious. Crystal, she says, had many ambitious plans and dreams and was very excited when she learnt of her success at this year’s CXC examination.
She went on to share the thoughts of the family on the day Crystal disappeared. She said, contrary to what some people first assumed, Crystal St Omer would not have run away with a boyfriend nor was she the type of person who would stay out without even providing her mother with information on her whereabouts.
“So, because of that, as early as Wednesday evening when she went missing, the family knew immediately that something was wrong,” said St Omer-Fontenelle. “It is so unlike her to be callous and she is the last of seven siblings . . . They got along very, very well. Crystal had a loving family and a loving extended family. She never missed family gatherings. She would be the one to tell all her brothers and sisters that they should come and beg them to come to the gatherings. It really is a big loss and it is just the violence of the act. I sometimes wonder how much she suffered and she begged for her life.”
ACP Frances, at a press conference on Monday indicated that persons have been interrogated and are assisting with the investigation. Up until Monday afternoon, persons were left to speculate as BlackBerry messages quickly spread across the country providing unconfirmed reports as to how the body was found and who was being questioned. The ACP with responsibility for major crime refuted such claims and reported that the police have made no arrests in the matter.
“In the conduct of this investigation, a number of persons are assisting us with the enquiries. A number of persons have been interviewed and a number of persons have been interrogated. I can further indicate that owing to the overwhelming response that we have received from varying sources, what we are looking at again, is piecing it together.
“I am very confident that moving forward, I will not make a pronouncement indicating that in very short order we will see a conclusion of This matter but we are pursuing some very positive leads at this time,” said Frances while adding, “When the body was found, there were signs that would suggest that there were marks that were before death and possibly, after death. That body was found beneath a retaining wall which had a height of about twelve feet. So it appears that the body was thrown over the walls and the body was partially clothed.”
In response to whether the body showed signs of sexual assault, Frances said only the autopsy results would confirm such and when that information is received, it will be released to the public. She also indicated that personnel from the forensic lab have been summoned from the initial investigations to assist the police with a full report.
Meanwhile, the leadership and members of the United Workers Party (UWP) have offered their deepest sympathy and solidarity to the family of young Crystal St Omer. The party calls on all St Lucians who may have information leading to the apprehension of the person or persons who may be associated with this shameful crime to provide the necessary information and support to the police.
On Sunday, Prime Minister Kenny Anthony posted a message to his Facebook profile expressing his shock at the news of Crystal’s brutal murder:
“I share the revulsion, the sorrow of every Saint Lucian over the brutal murder of Crystal St Omer. On occasions like this, it is so difficult to offer the right words to ease the pain and grief that inevitably ensues.
“I extend to the St Omer family, especially Virnet, who is a close and beloved friend, my deep sorrow and my prayers. I wish I were close to offer you, Virnet, a hug of solace and comfort to help you to cope with the unimaginable grief that you are experiencing at this time. I can only hope that the brute who committed this wicked and heinous crime is caught and made to pay the price that justice offers,” said Dr Anthony.
Update: Police on Thursday this week charged a 19-year-old for causing the death of Crystal St Omer. He is expected to appear in court on Friday.