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House torched, woman, daughter hurt

Published: 
Wednesday, December 6, 2017
Arson attack in St Helena
A fire officer speaks to Christopher Saunders at St Helena yesterday. Inset: Rosey Saunders-Morales.

A manhunt has been launched for a Dominican Republic national who torched a house after a chopping and beating a woman and her daughter in St Helena yesterday.

Police said the 35-year-old suspect attacked Rosey Saunders-Morales and Shamaryah Saunders, 14, with a cutlass, knives and a hammer following an argument over property.

In an interview yesterday, Elena Saunders said the suspect had repeatedly asked for control of two properties her mother had inherited in St Helena.

She said the suspect had threatened to end his own life in the past if he was not given control of the properties. Two months ago he sliced his left forearm, she said.

Shamaryah said she awoke yesterday and heard her mother arguing with the suspect before he attacked her with a cutlass. She said she grabbed a broom and began hitting the suspect in an effort to stop him.

Her twin sister, Shemaryah, ran out the house screaming for help.

Saunders-Morales was stabbed, chopped and beaten before being rescued by Shamaryah and taken to Arima hospital.

Residents told Guardian Media they saw the suspect, who sold coconuts at a nearby corner, smoking a cigarette and walking away from the burning home shortly after the incident.

Relatives said the suspect had his passport and other immigration documents when he fled. He was described as someone who could “survive in the bush” and had undergone a psychiatric evaluation after attempting suicide earlier this year.

“I just want the police to arrest him because he threatened to kill everyone in that house,” Elena said, adding that the family was afraid the suspect will return and attack them again.

According to police reports, the attack took place around 7 am. Police blocked off the road as fire officers extinguished the blaze.