By Michael Jordan
Twenty years is a long time on the run.
That run ended on Saturday (June 25, 2022) after a tip provided to the police led to the capture of Gautier Jerome Fernandes, also known as ‘Multi Fernandes,’ wanted for the January 25, 2002, murder of Roshanie Sooklall.
Crime Chief Wendell Blanhum revealed that at around 17.30 hrs on Saturday, a party of ranks from the Anna Regina Police Station visited an area called Sand Pit, Essequibo Coast, “and one Gautier Jerome fernandes, a 51 year old labourer, was arrested for the alleged murder of Roshanie Sooklall, which occurred in Diamond East Bank Demerara. He is presently in custody at the Anna Regina Police Station.”
Earlier, an anonymous source provided Big Smith News Watch with photographs of Fernandes, as well as his alleged location. An individual who knows the suspect positively identified him after viewing the photos.
The associate also identified a woman in one of the photographs as Fernandes’ partner, with whom he has been living. This reporter had repeatedly highlighted this case in his ‘Murder and Mystery’ column in the Kaieteur Newspaper previously.
Roshanie Sooklall, the victim, is said to have a tragic existence.
She and four siblings grew up in a back street in Herstelling, East Bank of Demerara (EBD).
By the time she was ten, both of her parents had died and at the age of 14, Roshanie and her siblings moved to a tiny shack in a squatting community at Diamond. At around the age of 17, Roshanie started a relationship with the suspect, who was from an area at Soesdyke known as Sand Road.
By the time she was 18, she had borne the young man a son, and had moved to Soesdyke to live with the man’s family. The couple would eventually have two more children.
Roshanie’s spouse worked on and off as a canecutter at the Diamond Sugar Estate.
On more than one occasion, Roshanie allegedly ran away from her abusive spouse, leaving her children behind to live with her brother in the Diamond Squatting Area. But her brother, Hardyal Damroo, would always urge her to return to her spouse and children.
For Roshanie, the final straw came when her reputed husband allegedly chopped her on the arm. She moved back to her brother’s Diamond Squatting Area home.
This time, she refused to return.
On Friday, January 25, 2002, Roshanie paid a visit to a female friend, Marcie Williams, who lived about 200 yards away in the same squatters’ community. The two women spent the entire night at Williams’ home.
However, at around midnight, Roshanie told her friend that she was leaving, despite suggestions by the friend that she remain until daybreak. Eventually, Marcie Williams decided to accompany Roshanie on her short journey home.
Williams was walking in front of Roshanie down a dirt track leading to their destination when she heard Roshanie scream. On looking around, Williams saw Roshanie struggling with her reputed husband, who, from reports, was armed with a knife.
As she watched in horror, the man threw Roshanie to the ground. Squatting on the helpless woman, Roshanie’s assailant then slashed her throat from ear to ear.
The man then turned his attention on Marcie Williams, who was still standing nearby. He told Marcie that she was next, since she had witnessed the act. Marcie Williams ran in the direction of her home, with the killer in pursuit. A swipe from the knife sliced her right thumb open. Luckily, her screams had alerted a female resident, and Williams managed to seek refuge in the woman’s residence.
The alleged killer then fled from the community.
Roshanie’s brother recalled that her neck was almost severed. It is alleged that after killing Roshanie Sooklall, the suspect fled to Soesdyke. He reportedly then collected the couple’s three children.