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Saturday 9th August ,2008

 

UNSOLVED MYSTERIES

Part 2 - The man who followed Akiel

 
 
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AKIEL CHAMBERS...life snuffed out.

BY FRANCIS JOSEPH

Last week, the Guardian published Part 1 of this story concerning the death of 11-year-old Akiel Chambers who was found floating in a pool at the home of Charles and Annelore James at Haleland Park, Maraval, on May 24, 1998. The first part dealt with Akiel being told not to bathe in the pool at a party for the James’ 11-year-old daughter, Carrie.

No one saw Akiel bathe in the pool, but when his body mysteriously surfaced the following day, Akiel was wearing a man’s swimming trunks.

Two post-mortems were conducted and a coroner’s inquest held, but we are no where close to finding the man who snuffed Akiel’s life out. Who was the man who sexually molested Akiel? Would we ever know. Last week, a parent came forward to tell her story.

The Mystery parent

A parent who was present at the party when Akiel Chambers disappeared and later turned up dead, has come forward, saying she no longer sleeps properly and hopes that the boy’s killer will be found.

She never wanted to get involved, even though she saw some strange things on that fateful evening at Haleland Park, Maraval.

The woman wants to remain anonymous, but ever since the Unsolved Mysteries series started, it inspired her to say something, against the wishes of her husband.

The woman’s story goes like this:

“I attended that party at the James’ house because my son was a friend of Carrie James. I had originally planned on leaving my son there, but I have this weird thing about pool parties. I had to go to the mall for something, but as if God was telling me something, I stayed at the house for the entire evening.

“I mingled with the other parents and I assisted Mrs James, the hostess. I did not know the boy who was called Akiel. It was after he died and his picture appeared in the newspapers, that I remembered him. How did I remember him?

“There was this boy, looking somewhat frustrated at not being able to bathe in the pool. I remember asking him why he was not bathing. He said he was given strict instructions from his aunt that he was not to bathe. You know how boys are? He was looking at the other children in the pool who were having a good time.

“I never knew his name, but he seemed shy and you had to literally beg him to eat and drink something near the pool. As I look back ten years, I remember this guest was showing particular interest in the boy. It was obvious to all that they were not related, but this man was behind this little boy. If the boy went inside to use the washroom, this man was following him. I thought nothing about it until everything started to unfold. If I had only known, I may have intervened, but there was nothing strange at the time.

“There was a time when the boy went inside and never came back out. I was there when his aunt returned for him and he was no where to be found. I was there when everyone was searching. I knew for a fact there was no one in the pool that night. How in heaven’s name the boy was found in the pool the next morning?

“Even the man who was following the boy was searching too. But you know something, no one searched inside the house, they searched around the house, next door, down the road, and even made calls to others who had left. Why didn’t anyone search upstairs the house, not even the police went upstairs when they came that night.”

One of the parents who was present at the party was Trevor Craigwell, who now lives in Connecticut, USA.

At the inquest hearing before Coroner Sherman Mc Nicolls, Craigwell cried, his voice cracked and he asked for a glass of water as he recounted the events surrounding the disappearance and death of Akiel. “It was very sad for my wife and I. It is very emotional for me to relive it. A child died in a pool when I was supervising. It is very emotional, I know how precious they are, I have four kids, it is a very difficult time,” Craigwell said as he wiped his eyes with a handkerchief. Craigwell insisted that he and Mrs Annelore James were not friends, although his statement to the police on May 23, 1998, stated otherwise. “That is a mistake, we are not friends,” Craigwell told the Coroner’s inquest.

Craigwell said he went to the James’ residence around 3.20 pm on May 23, 1998 to attend a birthday party for Carrie James. He went there with his three sons, Christopher 10, Anthony, seven, and Nathaniel, five. He said when he arrived at the James’ residence, he saw children bathing in the pool. “I took the responsibility of supervising the kids. There was no prior arrangement for the supervision of the kids. There were about 25 to 28 kids, while there were three parents.”

Craigwell said he sat on a chair at the side of the pool, which he described as dirty. He said he was unable to see the bottom of the pool.

He insisted there were no alcoholic beverages at the party. He said that around 5 pm, the children were called out of the pool to stick the cake. He remained outside as parents started arriving to collect their children. He said one parent, a woman, came and asked for Akiel. “I did not observe Akiel for the entire afternoon. There were about 28 kids in the pool. I agree there was not proper supervision. But priority began with my kids. The supervision wasn’t done properly because a child went missing.”

Craigwell said a search was carried out by the children and parents, for Akiel. Asked by the Coroner of his relationship with Patrick Young, another parent, Craigwell replied, “he was not a good friend. He was a customer in my store. He loved my ties, but I can’t remember how many he bought. I can’t say if he bought other items.” Craigwell said while the children were searching for Akiel, Mrs James called parents who had left to find out if Akiel left with them. Craigwell said he eventually left around 7.45 pm, leaving behind his home telephone number in the event that Akiel was found. The US-based witness said he received a call around midnight from the Maraval police who wanted to know if he knew anything about the missing boy. “As a concerned parent, it was hard for me to sleep that night. It was difficult.”

The following day, around 6.15 am, he returned to Haleland Park. “My wife told me to go and look in the bushes opposite the James’ residence. She told me to go and see if something had happened. I searched the bushes, there is a mountain area. After half an hour, I went to the market and then I went home. When I got home, my wife told me that Mrs James had called and said they found a body.”

Craigwell said he and his wife went to the James’ residence. On their arrival, Craigwell said he saw the police. He saw something red in the pool and then the police retrieved a body. “Mrs James was crying, she was totally traumatised. She kept saying “Akiel is in the pool, Akiel is in the pool.”

(Part 3 next week)

What happened since

  • On February 5, 2006, Annelore James, 59, lost her leg when she stopped to help an accident victim on the Solomon Hochoy Highway.
  • Trevor Craigwell, a businessman who accompanied his sons, Anthony and Christopher, to the 1998 pool party, migrated in 2003 to Connecticut, USA. Christopher currently faces a murder charge after allegedly pummeling his grandfather, Morris King Sr, 80, who went into a coma during what police call a “drug-induced rage” at King’s Putney area, Connecticut, home on February 6 this year.