After spending four days in the hands of kidnappers, Natalie Pollonais spent yesterday resting, giving police statements and thanking God that she was finally safe with her family.
Her Palmiste home remained closed yesterday and a spokesperson who met the T&T Guardian said she was not ready to give an interview about her ordeal. He said her family would contact the media later on.
A priest visited the family and prayed with them while there were regular police patrols in the neighbourhood while the T&T Guardian was there.
Pollonais’ neighbour Jowelle De Souza said the kidnapping and subsequent rescue was a culmination of several crimes occurring in the Palmiste area over the past year. She said the crimes were so frequent that residents had hired private security at every block in the residential community.
“We are paying private security to check every block. You will see booths set up at Block Two, Block Three and Block Seven. The guard checks the residents to ensure that everyone is safe,” De Souza said.
She added that most of the residents of Palmiste knew that Pollonais would be returned safely after Police Commissioner Gary Griffith took on the role to deal with her kidnappers. De Souza said Griffith had come personally to residents’ homes to get CCTV footage of vehicles leaving and entering the community.
“I knew the way they swamped down on the boulevard looking at all the people who had footage that they were working with a strategy. The commissioner used good sense and had the training to keep the kidnapping confidential immediately after the call came in. He really worked hard on the matter and we all had a feeling that he would not fail in bringing her back home safely,” De Souza added.
She also said now was a good time for Griffith to review all cases.
“I am hoping that we could solve all the other kidnappings that occurred, such as the kidnapping of my good friend Carolyn Katwaroo, who is missing three years now. Now that the Commissioner has privileged access to investigations, dig deeper and let us solve these cases,” De Souza said.
Describing Pollonais as a strong woman, De Souza said she had no doubt that Pollonais would pull herself together and overcome the trauma that she suffered during her abduction.
A witness saw Pollonais being hassled by two uniformed police officers near the abandoned roundabout of the incomplete Debe Interchange hours before her husband Jason lodged a missing person’s report last Thursday. But there are no CCTV cameras in that location.
Her missing BMW 5380 car was recovered by police at Cypress Hills, Union Hall, San Fernando, seven hours later following an expansive sweep through the district with the police helicopter. Her phone was also traced. Around 7 pm on Monday, officers from several units intercepted an AD wagon and rescued Pollonais in what CoP Griffith described as a “calculated extraction.”
Investigators said two police constables are among three people now being interrogated at separate locations across the country in connection with the kidnapping. A corporal from the Highway Patrol Unit is also being quizzed although senior officers said yesterday he is not a suspect in the case.
September 6: Natalie Pollonias leaves the gym at C3 mall to visit a friend but never arrives. Husband files a missing person report. The family receives a ransom call for US$300,000.
September 7: A witness comes forward with information that he saw Pollonais being hassled by two men dressed in police uniform at 11.45 am on the day she disappeared. Police collect all CCTV footage from properties surrounding the family’s residence in Palmiste. CCTV footage at C3 mall yields credible leads.
September 8: Negotiations continue. Police work on sensitive information. Media is shut out from investigations.
September 9: Police intercept a white AD wagon along Churchill Roosevelt Highway in San Juan. Pollonais is rescued and a suspect is detained. Two police constables are later arrested. A police corporal from Highway Patrol is also identified but police later say he is not a suspect. Griffith says more arrests are coming.