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Tributes, tears as Abigail laid to rest

Thursday, March 22, 2018
Ronston Chapman speaks about his wife Abigail Chapman and daughter Olivia during their funeral service at the La Brea Seventh Day Adventist Church, La Brea, yesterday. PICTURE KRISTIAN DE SILVA

As tributes and tears poured out at the funeral of murdered teacher Abigail Jones-Chapman and her daughter Olivia Chapman, those who lived near her were chastised for not offering a helping hand in their time of need.

Quoting the old African proverb "It takes a village to raise a child," Jones-Chapman's cousin Alana Jones questioned where was the village when they suffered verbal and financial abuse. Jones' eulogy at the La Brea Seventh Day Adventist Church might have mashed several corns among the hundreds who crammed inside and huddled outside the church building. However, it was a call for the community to unite and confront domestic abuse where and whenever it was found.

"Growing up in this community, I was told that it takes a village to raise a child, but somehow we forgot that as this said child is nurtured and moved into puberty, that the child still needs that village. Abigail needed that village. As a young mom, she struggled to make ends meet to provide for her children. She was married, but not adequately provided for but it was the village that still was not there."

Jones said that Jones-Chapman and her estrange husband Ronsworth Chapman were not immune to the challenges of most modern marriages despite her being a great cook, a loving mother and a devoted wife.

"Being married did not protect her. When emotional and financial abuse reared its ugly head in her Christian marriage, the village was dormant, too afraid to call domestic violence by its name. And when family members tried to intervene, we were labelled as aggressive and nosey," Jones said.

She said when Jones-Chapman left the safety of her marriage, no one asked why. Instead, they became the local Ian Alleyne where conspiracy and gossip ruled. She called on villagers to become agitated in raising awareness of domestic abuse and support those in need beyond the usual lip service.

Earlier, a teary-eyed Ronsworth told mourners that he hoped that the death of his wife and daughter would not be in vain. He believes that God has a plan for his younger children, Kacey and Amy as it was why the killer did not find them last week Tuesday. He said there was no time for animosity and acrimony as life was short.

Principal of Olivia's Point Fortin East Secondary School, Ainsley Gopaul, said the country lost a potential lawyer and human rights activist. Describing her a "little warrior princess," he said Olivia would always stand up for her class whenever issues arose. The school is expected to host a memorial next week in which they invited the Jones and Chapman's families.

Suspect remains silent

Yesterday, defence attorney Fareed Ali confirmed that he represents the 38-year-old Gonzales Village, Guapo mason, who is suspected of murdering Jones-Chapman, 41, Olivia, 14, their landlord Michael Scott, 69, and Olivia's friend Michaela Mason, 14, on March 13.

Police believe that the murders stemmed from a domestic dispute between Jones-Chapman and the suspect after she ended their year-long relationship. As a consequence, it was believed that the suspect went to the home at Khani Settlement, Sobo Village, La Brea where he killed everyone in the apartment.

Ali confirmed that the suspect remained in the custody of the Homicide Bureau of Investigations, Region Three.

He also dispelled rumours that his client confessed to the murders adding that the suspect has maintained his right to silence since his arrest on Sunday.

Ali said that much has been said about his client, both in the press and social media. He said it was unfortunate that the public, without information from a credible source, had concluded that his client was responsible. He said what was carried by the press (Not Trinidad Guardian) about comments by his client was nothing but rumour mongering and conjecture.



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