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Last thread of hope


While investigations try to determine whether the badly decomposing remains of a female discovered in a shallow grave in Sandy Bay, Clarendon, yesterday are those of 44-year-old teacher Natalie Dawkins, Deputy Commissioner of Police Fitz Bailey says detectives are certain that 20-year-old Jeffery Bedward, who was shot dead last week by cops, was in Dawkins’ home the night she disappeared.

At the same time, Rosalie Logan, principal of Four Paths Primary and Junior High School, where Dawkins taught, said she and her staff are awaiting official confirmation of the identity of the remains from the police.

“We are nervous, we are grief-stricken right now. We don’t have any concrete evidence to say whether the remains that were found are that of Natalie, so we are still waiting,” Logan told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.

“Being on the site right now is very nerve-racking. I am weak in my knees while I wait on the police to do whatever they are doing, and so it is a sad day for us, a very sad day. We know that even though she has been missing for over a week we were still holding on to that last thread of hope,” Logan said.

The principal said the school community was unable to understand who would want to hurt their colleague because she was a very nice person.

Dawkins, who was also a part-time bailiff, was last seen at her home in that community on Tuesday, March 30 by a neighbour who said she had gone outdoors to turn off her car alarm sometime after 11:00 pm upon receiving a call telling her that it had been triggered.

Her handbag was found on the Spanish Town leg of Highway 2000 the morning after. Police investigations led to the recovery of her motor car last weekend following a shoot-out with Bedward and another man who fled.

Speaking on the heels of the discovery of the remains yesterday, DCP Bailey said “We are convinced, based on our investigations, that Jeffery Bedward, who was fatally shot by the police, was at Miss Dawkins’ residence within the same period when she went missing, and we are also confident that he was also in the area where the skeletal remains were discovered. We have secured significant amount of evidence both scientific and other types in support of our investigation, and some of the things I cannot disclose.”

He said that Bedward’s brother is among three people in police custody in relation to the teacher’s disappearance. Additionally, two television sets, which are believed to belong to Dawkins, were discovered during a search of Bedward’s house.

In the meantime, DCP Bailey, who commended the investigators and thanked the public, said the police are also pursuing several other lines of enquiries in the case, while pointing out that technology and science have assisted significantly in the investigations so far.

“We are looking at a number of theories, but none of them is conclusive, so we hope that by the time we conclude these investigations we will establish the motive. We are also looking at the theory that was she taken away because of her work as a bailiff,” Bailey said.

He said the body, which was discovered along with pieces of female clothing, was in a “very, very bad state of decomposition” and the skull was separated from the other parts of the body.

Jamaica Teachers’ Association President Jasford Gabriel, responding to yesterday’s news, said “This is one of the saddest days in the over 50-year history of the JTA”.

“We were hoping and praying as a nation, and especially across the teaching profession, that by some miraculous means Natalie would have been found alive and able to unite with her friends and colleagues and able to continue the tremendous work she has been doing for over 20 years, positively impacting the lives of thousands of our impressionable minds,” he said.

“Teaching is the most noble profession. When we can begin to turn on our teachers in a manner like this, we know, if we didn’t know before, that we need divine intervention,” Gabriel said.

In the meantime, a relative of Dawkins, who opted not to be named, said: “While we are in shock and grieving, we are grateful for the efforts and overwhelming support from the Jamaican public, the media and the security forces which have lead to finding our loved one. We urge the public to speak up for justice and the protection of our women. It is high time that we take being our brother’s and sister’s keeper as a matter of life and death.”

 

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