Before mercilessly pumping bullets into the bodies of four adults inside a house in Crawle, Bog Walk, St Catherine, early yesterday morning, the gunmen reportedly ensured that a six-month-old baby was carefully wrapped in a blanket and equipped with diapers and formula, before placing him outside in a stroller with four other children.
They then went inside the dwelling and shot to death Dorothy Higgins and her daughter Kerry-Ann Higgins McGrath, as well as their helper Dianne Johnson and her spouse Kevin.
Standing among a group of onlookers, a tearful Kerensia Morrison, the member of parliament for St Catherine North East in which the community is located, described the scene as a horror movie.
"We were told that five children were in the house and we were also told that the gunmen actually put the baby in the stroller, put feeding in the stroller, put diaper in the stroller and tell the rest of the children to get their clothes and to get out the house. This is the stuff that horror movies are made of," Morrison said.
Reports are that minutes after 2 a.m., residents heard explosions and notified the police. Upon the lawmen's arrival, the bodies of three females and a male was discovered with what appeared to be gunshot wounds. The Higgins have lived in the quiet farming district all of their lives while Johnson and her spouse are from Friendship, Portland. Their bodies were found on their bed while the Higgins were found in separate rooms in the house.
There were no tears from the residents but they all appeared despondent and in shock that their small, friendly district could be the scene of a ghastly crime. According to one resident, she has heard about similar news on the media but never imagined that Crawle would be painted with blood and swarmed with members of the security forces, funeral home buses and news teams.
"This is unheard of and shocking. We only have bad roads in these parts but people just work and go to dem farm. Everyone live good, people don't used to gunshot sound and that is probably why mi never hear it because is not a sound weh mi familiar with. We see it on the news all the time but we never expect say it would reach we doorstep. Dis shake up everybody and all of this bigger than Crawle and Riversdale," the woman said.
Enid Cooper, an elderly woman who has spent all her years in the area, said the Higgins are highly respected and members of the family keep to themselves. She stated both mother and daughter were former teachers and the elder Higgins was an active member of a nearby church.
"These are church-going people. Every funeral the mother go, she is we friend. She is a member of the Prophecy Church. She used to teach and her daughter was a teacher too. Is over 70 years I live over here and nothing like this never happen. It is a really sad day," Cooper said.
A relative said he was so shocked when he received the terrible news that his bowels betrayed him.
"Kerry-Ann run a company and she was my boss. Her children are my cousins. Kerry always on the go and she nuh really talk to people. A way a St Andrew mi live and is like mi drop in every pothole to reach here. Mi never believe when mi get the call and is when mi call Kerry phone and her son answer and say she dead, and mi a tell yuh the truth, mi doodoo up myself same time," he said.
Higgins-McGrath returned to the island just hours before she was killed. She, along with her family, were said to be in mourning following the passing of her spouse at the family's home on Friday. The Higgins operate a farm on their property and own dozens of cattle. Except for three licence plates from the vehicles in the yard, nothing else appeared to be missing. The two-storey house appears secure with high fences, metal gates, burglar bars and surveillance cameras. However, the killers still managed to gain entrance to the dwelling by breaching one of the back grilles.
Detectives are currently clueless as to what could motivate such a merciless attack. Head of the Corporate Communications Unit, Senior Superintendent of Police Stephanie Lindsay, said the police are working assiduously to nab those responsible for the murders.
"It is very early in the investigation and there are no leads and there is no clear indication as to what motivated this attack just yet. The police are working with what little information they are gathering and intelligence to find out what led to this attack. We are looking at the profile of the individuals and based on what we have gathered, they have lived in the community and they are described as being private and [have not had] not much interaction with many persons," Lindsay said.