She is not about to give up on her daughter. Not now, not ever, ever, ever. She’s been to hell and back, enduring personal disasters that no mother should ever have to encounter. But Alice is not cowed. The 45-year-old self-employed mother of three knows only too well what she now faces is the battle of her life. More precisely, a battle to save what’s left of her eldest daughter’s life—and that particularly depressing assignment has barely begun.
Alice has barely had a full night’s sleep since that tragic incident when, in the abused name of love, someone ripped open her 18-year-old daughter’s throat. Police soon arrested her suspected assailant. But that was only the beginning of Alice’s worst nightmare. Some five months later, mother and daughter find themselves making countless court appearances that seem to be going nowhere. It’s almost as if the system had been designed to frustrate them, to force them to abandon their search for justice, to consider themselves lucky to be alive.
“There’s no sympathy,” Alice told me during a recent interview at her Morne DuDon home. “My daughter was badly hurt. It was a miracle she survived. But there is no kind of sympathy. Not from Social Services, not from the family court. No one seems to care.”
Meanwhile her once physically flawless daughter appears, if only outwardly, to have grown accustomed to seeing daily in her mirror the scarred reflection of the horror she experienced on the way to a movie some five months ago—in the merry month of Christmas.
Alice recalled the particular December Saturday afternoon when life had abruptly changed for her and her family into an endless living nightmare. She had attended church that morning, as usual. But rather than returning in the evening as was her normal practice, she had decided on the occasion to spend the rest of her Sabbath at home. “My daughter did not go to church with me all the time,” she told me, her voice hoarse with regret. “You can’t force them. Besides, she was not actually living with me at the time.”
Four years earlier Social Services had taken away her daughter and placed her in her divorced father’s care. Almost in tears, Alice recalled the ordeal: “They said I was unfit. . I was too strict. It was church, school and home. She was a teenager, they said, and I needed to let her go out. But go out where?”
She paused, took a deep breath, exhaled: “I still have the report. I was labeled an unfit mother. I went to court several times over that. They said I had a bad demeanor. I said to the magistrate: ‘You take away from me a child I’ve raised on my own to age fourteen and you talk about my bad demeanor? You expect me to smile when I’m losing my child? You don’t expect me to put up a fight?’ ” She told the magistrate she was ready to go to Bordelais as the price to keep her daughter. “They ignored my pleas,” said Alice. “Later, I discovered the social worker on the case was my daughter’s father’s first cousin!”
Her daughter had been snatched away from her but still Alice refused to give up. She made constant trips to Social Services to complain that she was not being adequately cared for by her father. “I went there so many times they got tired of me,” she admitted. “I told them my daughter’s father had never paid her school fees. He did not pay for CXC. I had to pay for everything. But Social Services considered him a fit father. Why? Because he allowed her to go out. Finally he left the country while my daughter stayed with his mother. He is still living outside Saint Lucia. So who really cares? Who’s controlling? Who’s fit?”
Alice and her daughter’s father had stayed married for ten years. “A wasted ten years,” as she put it. “I did not want my daughter growing up in a negative environment? I wanted to protect her from that. But Social Services didn’t see it that way. All they knew was that I was not a fit mother because I was too strict!”
On the day her throat was cut in the name of love, Alice’s daughter, her eldest, was not in her care. Alice recalled getting a phone call that unforgettable Saturday. A young woman on the other end mentioned Alice’s daughter by name and wanted to confirm whether Alice was indeed her mother. “Yes,” Alice assured the caller, “why are you asking?”
“They just slashed her throat on the walkover going to the cinema!”
Alice thought she’d heard wrong, or that she was losing her mind. She said: “Excuse me. Are you a police officer or something? Where did you get that story? You’re just calling me plank like that!”
“Yes, it’s true!” said the unfamiliar voice. “And I can tell you who did it.”
Alice remembered that the caller had named a young man she knew only too well. “My daughter had brought him to meet me,” she explained, “I’d met him a number of times.”
Fighting desperately not to believe what she’d been told, Alice sought confirmation: “Are you sure about what you’re saying?”
The caller replied: “Yes, I am. She’s lying there on the ground!”
Alice thanked her and hung up. “At the time I could not think straight,” she told me. “I called my daughter’s younger sister and brother and told them someone had just called to say [name withheld] had slashed their sister’s throat. Her younger daughter said: “My God! He kill my sister? He kill my sister?” Her little brother was lying on the ground, hysterically kicking and screaming.
“Can you imagine how traumatic that was?” asked Alice. “I got a bellyache. I can’t describe how I felt, honestly. I still get flashbacks.”
Alice said she’d “never forget that voice on the phone and what she told me.” Often, the teen’s mother told the STAR, when she’s alone at home and her phone rings, “it’s like someone is calling me again and telling me the same story. It’s not easy to deal with.”
She recalled that not long after the dreadful phone call she had knelt down and prayed: “Lord, I am not ready for that. Give me anything else but not the dying part. I cannot deal with it. I will not be able to deal with it. Just keep her there for me please.”
There were more phone calls, different people telling her: “She’s still on the ground.” One caller informed her that “the ambulance isn’t there yet!” It was one call after the next, until Alice told her current husband: “This is serious, we have to go.”
En-route, Alice took another call, this time from someone letting her know the ambulance was on the way to the hospital with her daughter and that she should head there instead. On arrival she spoke with police officers who had been anticipating her.
“They asked if I was her mom,” she recalled. “I said yes and they gave me her purse. When I saw all the blood on it I said ‘Lord, it’s serious.’ I said to myself ‘this guy actually hurt my daughter?’ The officers said they needed to ask me some questions before they allowed me in to see my daughter. I said, ‘What questions can I answer now? I cannot answer any questions, I just want to see my child. I want to see if she’s okay because I don’t know what’s going on.’ ”
The officers spoke to the nurse and they let her in. She found her daughter lying in bed. “Her face lit up as soon as she saw me,” Alice recalled, behind a tiny smile, the only one during our interview. “The joy of it was when I reached and saw her looking at me and smiling. A towel covered her neck. I said: ‘Girl, you okay? It’s like this is not serious, because you’re smiling.’ She was smiling, but I believe my daughter was in shock. I asked her what happened. She started to tell me but I interrupted her. I told her don’t say anything now. I left the room to check on her grandmother, who was on the other side, because she was reacting much worse than me.”
In the hallway, a young man pointed her out to a couple who’d been waiting outside. They approached Alice and the female identified herself as the mother of the alleged slasher. “She asked if that was my daughter in there and I said yes. Then she said her son never intended to kill my daughter. I went blank. I said: ‘Ma’am, are you for real? Are you okay? Are you fine? It was not his intention to kill my daughter? He cut her throat. What did he have in mind?’ “
She was screaming and the boy’s father was crying and saying, “It’s so hard, it’s so hard.” Alice stood there taking it all in. Then she said: “What is all this? What about me?”
The young man’s father talked about how hard on him it was to see his son in handcuffs.
Meanwhile Alice was thinking: “What about my daughter? The handcuffs on your son are harder to handle than what he did to my daughter? She told the couple she didn’t wish to speak anymore. “From that moment these people turned into my enemies,” said Alice.
I asked her if she feared for her daughter’s life, since her alleged attacker is out on bail. Without the slightest hesitation she replied: “No way! When I got to the hospital that day I went to his room, before I went to look for my daughter. I told him: ‘I’m there. I’m around. That’s how far you reached?’
“He kept his head down. He didn’t say anything. I don’t hate that boy. I cannot. He’s still a teenager. He doesn’t really understand. I don’t think he knows what he did. He was just reacting emotionally. My problem is his mom. The way she makes it seem like nothing happened. They’ve hired two lawyers for that boy. That night at the hospital I told them their son had a problem. She said nothing was wrong with him. A state prosecutor will represent us in court.”
Her daughter’s stitches were removed on December 10, but Alice is of the opinion that hospital staff showed little regard for the sensitivity of the situation.
“Myself and her father were there with her. All of a sudden I’m seeing my daughter running towards us. She held on to me tightly, all in a panic, shouting: ‘Mommy look, the boy! Look, he’s coming!’ I said: “The boy is coming?” I immediately went to the doctor and asked what was going on. They told me they did not remember they had given them appointments on the same day. And at the same time!
“My daughter was trembling so much I had to take her into a little room,” Alice recalled. She summoned the hospital security and asked him to escort the boy and his mother out.
“I said they could come back with him after we’d left,” she expressed. “What kind of thing is that? Yes, my daughter has a restraining order, but what if she goes to the cinema again, or somewhere else, and bumps into him? What happens then? What’s 100 yards?”
An exasperated Alice added: “I’m telling you, the laws of the land encourage murder and crime. They breed criminals in St Lucia.”
Her daughter seems to have disconnected herself from the situation. During our interview she appeared exceptionally calm, carefree and positive. She wore her thick scar as a regular woman might wear a pearl necklace. I hesitate to say as though it were a badge of honour!
“I just don’t like the drama,” she told me. “Being in the news, going to court . . . I’m accustomed to seeing it on TV, and now I’m living with what happened. I understand how other people feel now but I just want this to be over. I don’t even know . . .”
She says she holds no hatred for her alleged attacker. And shockingly: “In a way I don’t blame him, I blame his parents. I feel like he’s still a child at mind. He was raised in whatever type of environment and everyone is now saying they were there for him, they’re his friend. But when I was with him for how many months, and talking to him, I knew he had problems. If they were his friends before me, why didn’t they notice? Some even blame me: they say I caused this or that . . . People have their own reasons for what they say.”
She told me she and her ex-boyfriend met “like every other teenager.” Through “a friend of his who told me he liked me.” She smiled. “He added me on MSN Messenger, and we started talking.”
I wondered: “You were attracted to him from the onset?” “Well, yeah,” she giggled. “We talked and it just went on from there. We were together for about one year; from 2011.”
Was there a point when things turned sour? She doesn’t think so. She says he remained the same person throughout their relationship, with minor red flags here and there.
“There was a certain point when I didn’t tell him something. Then when I did he got upset, and from there he was more angry. But he was pretty much the same throughout,” she said.
Her mother disagreed: “One time he came home and said he wanted to spend the day with my daughter, to help her study. That time I monitored him. When he left I told my daughter the boy was a no-no. You read people, you observe people. I make it my duty to observe things and people.”
She continued: “He came home a second time, one morning. He was sitting with my daughter and I was in the kitchen doing something. I came to him and said: ‘You know, you never smile. That’s one of the first things I noticed about you. Why is that?’ He said that was just the way his face was. I said ‘No, something is wrong with you. Maybe you don’t want to tell me, but I’m a parent and it’s not normal for a young person to be serious like that. You’re not a good guy.’ ”
Alice recalled instances when the young man would pick her daughter up to go out and the first thing he’d do was take her phone.
“I don’t know what he was looking for,”she said. “He’d be fussing. He didn’t know I was monitoring him. One day I said to my daughter: ‘Just so you look for a father? Your father isn’t good enough for you?’ I said: ‘You know, that’s one of the reasons I left your father? He was very controlling. Why are you continuing the cycle?’
I told her I did not want that and needed her to leave the young man. She said:
‘Mommy, that’s how the boy is, that’s how he is. Why you worrying?’ I said: ‘No way. You need to leave that boy and if you don’t then you cannot stay here.’ She was living with me at the time.
“We got conversations between them that she did not erase from her phone and you would not believe the choice words he was using to her. I read one conversation and immediately messaged him. I said: ‘I will not sit back and allow you to destroy my daughter. You have to leave her. By hook or by crook, you must leave her, and if she doesn’t want to do it on her own I will do it. But you must take your way and leave her, let her take her way. She does not need you to take care of her, she’s my child, that’s my job. That’s my responsibility. You don’t respect her. You’re insulting her, disrespecting her. You’re an abuser. You have a problem.’ He was not pleased with what I said so he blocked me on Facebook. I didn’t care. I just knew I was out for him to leave. If you’re trying to destroy my daughter, you cannot be my friend.”
Shortly after that the young woman decided to end the relationship. She told her mother what she had done. But then, according Alice, the young man came to her daughter for help.
“He told her he wanted to go for counselling,” Alice recalled. “I said to my daughter: ‘Why you? You’re not his mother. His mother is supposed to go with him to do that.’ My daughter said: ‘No, he wants me to go with him.’ I told her that was a catch to keep her hanging around. I said she should be at her school books, not taking any guy to look for help.
“She said: ‘Mommy, I will go with him, but I’m not going to make back with him.’ I trust her, so I gave her the benefit of the doubt. She told me she went to Social Services and they sent her to the Crisis Center. They should have asked my daughter where was the boy’s mother. Social Services refuses to do its business. They just sit there, allowing good families to be destroyed, leaving too many children sitting on the street who are in need of help.” After the counselling effort fell flat the two young people continued to drift apart. The young girl was determined to stand her ground.
“We broke up because he kept on doing stuff,” she told me, “and I would threaten to break off the relationship. Each time he said he would change. He never did. Finally I got fed up and left. We broke up in October 2011. I wasn’t over it at that point, but I’m the kind of person, I would never let you know that. He kept on saying he’d change, and I kept on pushing him away. Then once or twice I would talk to him, told him I’d give him a chance, but he’d just say something again to upset me. I would decide to give him another chance, then sit and think, ‘what am I really doing?’ I would make him leave me alone. He felt I was confusing him: one time I’m giving him a chance, another time I’m flying him. I guess eventually he accepted that I was really moving on . . .”
Then came that fateful Saturday, December 1 afternoon. A huge Twilight fan, the young woman had decided to go to the cinema—alone. She vividly recalls her moment of indescribable horror: “As soon as I reached the top of the walkover, he clamped his hand over my mouth and slit my throat!”