A 13-year-old girl and her uncle were killed, while her father was critically wounded, during a brutal attack at their Rio Claro home yesterday.
While a motive is still under investigation, police confirmed that teenager Andrea Lallan and her father Eddy Lallan were recently threatened, after the teenager alleged she was raped by a couple.
Andrea’s uncle Sylvan, who was a paraplegic, recently moved back into his brother’s home at Old Mayaro Road, Libertyville.
Andrea’s father was shot in the neck area but managed to make his way by a nearby neighbour’s home. The neighbour took him to the health centre, where he was treated and transferred to the Sangre Grande Hospital.
Police believe the family was asleep when the killer/s stormed the house.
Neighbours told Guardian Media that around 2 am, they heard about nine gunshots but did not venture out of their homes.
When police got to the home, they found Andrea’s body on a bed in her bedroom and the uncle’s body on some cushions on the floor, where he slept. Andrea was a Standard Four student at St Therese RC School in Rio Claro.
In a brief interview, the neighbour who took Andrea’s father to the hospital recalled that he was on his bed when he heard someone calling his name.
“When I look, I see Eddy was bleeding from the upper body. He was asking for help, asking for water. He came for me to carry him in the health centre. I jumped in the car. While we going up the road, he said they shoot them (Eddy’s daughter and brother) too. He was gasping and bleeding plenty.”
While the murders rocked the quiet community, neighbours declined to comment on the incident. They said the Lallans kept to themselves.
One of the residents said he last saw Eddy and his daughter around 8 pm when the police brought them home in a police vehicle. She would have gone to the police station in relation to her sexual assault matter.
Guardian Media was told that Sylvan moved about in a wheelchair after a spinal injury following a fall about two years ago. Another resident claimed that he slept on the side of the road for a while, not far from his brother’s home. However, he said Sylvan moved in with his brother less than a week ago. Andrea’s father worked as a labourer but stopped working after an injury to his head. Relatives who turned up at the house yesterday declined to speak with reporters.
Sitting down in front of the house, Eddy’s sister cried and prayed for strength. When reporters attempted to speak with her, she muttered, “I can’t deal with this right now.” However, Rio Claro South councillor David Law, who knew the family, said he was shocked and saddened over the incident. He said the family was struggling, and Sylvan had recently asked for his assistance for a new wheelchair. He described Andrea as a bright young child filled with ambition.
Lamenting the numerous murders in the country, he said, “It is alarming. We have had a few murders in the region in the last few weeks. But this is home, I am close with the family and very emotional ... We would see the criminal elements are being more vicious and callous. There is no age, no gender. Some how, we need to get a handle of this.”
He said the police seem to be losing the battle with criminals.
Meanwhile, police said Andrea’s mother Christine Phillip, who lives in Mayaro, went to the Forensic Science Centre to identify the body yesterday.
Police retrieved eight 9mm spent shells and a projectile at the scene. Homicide investigators are investigating.
Following the murders, Mayaro MP Rushton Paray called on the authorities to end the surge of crimes in the country.
Condemning the cold-blooded murders, he said they illustrated the gloom and anguish hovering over the country.
Lamenting that the murders follow the recent quadruple murders of a Guanapo family, including a ten-year-old girl, and several other homicides, he said the traditionally quiet Rio Claro community had also recently lost businessman Kris Ramsaran who was shot 16 times in St Helena.
He added that it was horrifying that in the midst of such unchecked catastrophe, there was still no purposeful intervention from Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and his non-performing Minister of National Security Fitzgerald Hinds.
“Trinidad and Tobago is in the throes of unprecedented torment and pain and cries out for leadership to bring an end to the crime scourge and to provide comfort to affected communities and families. Dr (Keith) Rowley should know that his silence and coldness are not what is required during this period of historic national tragedy,” he said.
CoP hopes for early breakthrough
Police Commissioner Erla Harewood-Christopher has condemned the killings and appealed to the public to assist the police in their investigations.
In a statement yesterday, the CoP said while no clear motive was confirmed, the police do not believe it was an arbitrary home invasion. She added that the police are working on certain leads they expect will be very useful in solving the incident, and hope to make a breakthrough soon.
“We totally condemn this heinous, violent act perpetrated against another one of our very innocent children and call for an end to these senseless killings,” she said, extending condolences to the family.
She also appealed to any member of the public who may have information to contact the police through their various mediums.
Meanwhile, a TTPS statement yesterday revealed that a couple had appeared virtually in the Rio Claro Magistrates’ Court jointly charged with two counts of sexual penetration of a 13-year-old girl.
The report stated that a 23-year-old woman, a house cleaner, and a 49-year-old man, a contractor, appeared before Magistrate Ava Vandenberg-Bailey.
It is alleged that around 3.15 pm on September 15, the girl was asleep at the home of the man and his girlfriend when she was allegedly awakened by them and sexually assaulted. The woman, was granted $500,000 bail, while the man was denied bail. They were charged WPC Farrier, of the Rio Claro Criminal Investigations Department (CID). They are expected to reappear on October 27.
The report did not name the victim in compliance with laws which disbar the naming of victims of sexual crimes.