Laurel V Williams
Shock mixed with horror gripped the community of Guapo on the outskirts of Point Fortin on Friday morning when residents woke up to the news that a 69-year-old woman, her son and her female friend died in a house fire.
So far, police investigators believe that the victims were murdered then the murderer set the two-storey house on fire in an attempt to conceal evidence.
Dead are Ceslyn “Linda” Farrell, her son Patrick Farrell, 48, and friend Seycelles Hannah, 41.
Reports are shortly after 8 am, residents of Petrotrin Quarters in Guapo saw the house on fire and contacted police and fire officers who responded. After they extinguished the flames, they found the bodies, burnt beyond recognition.
Apart from the house and household articles, a car was also destroyed.
As news broke, relatives, residents and even the family’s pet dog “Cuddles” gathered in the streets and waited for the removal of the bodies.
Farrell, an avid churchgoer, was a mother of six and a grandmother of 17. Hannah moved in with the Farrell family about three months ago owing to domestic woes. She previously lived at Point Fortin and was a mother of two.
Patrick also lived in Tobago but frequently visited his family in Guapo, police said.
As undertakers removed the bodies, relatives wept. One of Farrell’s granddaughters described her as a “praying woman.”
Patricia Abraham, who lives next door, said Farrell “rescued” and took Hannah to live with her some months ago.
Abraham said when she saw the fire, she immediately called out to Farrell.
“I did not hear any screaming. I looked at her back door and it was closed. We look out for each other. I say maybe she did not return home from yesterday because sometimes she goes by her daughter.”
Abraham said Farrell was a quiet person and spent most of her time “from church to home and home to church.”
Apostle Kenneth Ojirika, leader of the Dominion City at Main Road in Point Fortin said that on Thursday at about 8 pm, he dropped her home from the church.
He said earlier she had written exams at the Bible Foundation School. The bereaved religious leader said he knew her for about ten years and she also attended another church in Point Fortin.
Ojirika said: “She was a wonderful person. She was a faithful and committed woman. She also attended another church on mornings and came to Dominion City on evenings.”
Ojirika said he did not know Hannah personally and about two weeks ago he baptised her.
Point Fortin MP Edmund Dillon said he excused himself from Parliament on Friday when he received news of the deaths.
“It’s a very untimely loss. It’s sad news to find out three people died in a fire. I got the message while in Parliament. I felt it was very important for me to be here with the family at this time of their bereavement. I was born and grew up in this area,” Dillon said.
The MP said the area was called the BP housing area in his time. It was the headquarters assigned to British Petroleum staff.
Although police believe the victims may have been killed before the fire, an autopsy is scheduled for Monday at the Forensic Sciences Centre in St James to confirm the causes of death.
Dillon opted not to comment on speculation about the possibility of murder.
“Let’s wait and see what the evidence is first before we speculate. Until I have such information then I would make the appropriate comment.”
Councillor for Techier/Guapo, Lyndon Harris, said it was a tragic day for Guapo and neighbouring communities. Harris said he received a call from Point Fortin mayor, Kennedy Richards, and went on the scene.
“Fire service was already here, and T&TEC had disconnected the electricity. I spoke to relatives who are in a tragic state. It’s a tragic day for the community.”
Police from the La Brea and Guapo CIDs including Thompson and PC Seepersad interviewed several people.
Police from the Homicide Bureau Region III among them Supt Simon, Insps Figaro and Corrie, Sgt Ali, and other police searched for evidence and interviewed people.
A man 33-year-old man, a relative of Hannah, was later detained and remained in custody.
The cause of the fire remains unconfirmed.
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