There were a public outcry and a march calling for justice for the death of Republic Bank employee, Shannon Banfield.
Within ten days, police arrested and charged one man with Shannon’s murder. Swift justice, many would say.
But what happen to the hundreds of unsolved murders and no apparent justice for the relatives of these people. One such unsolved murder is that of Japanese pan player, Asami Nagakiya, a woman who came to Trinidad to enjoy our Carnival.
Despite police detaining and releasing one suspect, the case remains cold. The suspect, who is well-connected, remains free and is seen in the Woodbrook and Newtown areas regularly.
Will Asami’s family in Japan ever get justice?
Asami’s death remains a statistic at the Police Homicide Bureau, who seems more concerned at establishing a Cold Case Unit to deal with murders 20 years and over.
What about recent murders? What about the “hot” cases? The detection rate for murders is less than seven percent. The murder rate is fast approaching 450 for the year.
It is clear that the Homicide Bureau is understaffed and unable to cope with the number of murders. As investigators start to investigate one murder, another occurs and the previous case goes on the back burner, a source at the Homicide Bureau stated.
Otherwise, they would have arrested Asami’s killer who is well known to them. The suspect, a relative of a bandleader, is walking around knowing he won’t be hounded down and captured.
On Carnival Tuesday this year, February 9, Asami played mas for the first and last time. Dressed in a beaded yellow costume, Asami was last seen at the Silvers Stars mas camp on Tragarete Road, Port-of-Spain.
She left there around 7.30 pm in the company of a young man who wanted to escort her home. At that time, Asami and four other Japanese girls were staying in an apartment at Picton Court, Newtown.
Asami, 30, and the young man were seen walking north along Picton Street. She arrived at Picton Court but did not see her friends. Still dressed in her yellow bikini costume, Asami and the young man headed to the Queen’s Park Savannah with the intention of walking to St Ann’s. They made one stop at Pollo Tropical.
They then crossed the road and sat on a bench opposite Queen’s Royal College. One passerby remembered seeing the Japanese musician sitting on the bench. Another saw her and the young man arguing, but no one saw what happened next. That area around the Savannah was busy on Carnival Tuesday night. There were people buying coconut water, others taking a rest after playing mass. Two-way traffic was building up around the Savannah, as people started their journey home.
So nobody saw when Asami and her escort walked into the darkness of the Savannah. During that night Asami’s Japanese friends realized she did not return to her apartment. The next morning, according to sources, they went in search of Asami, checking all her associates as well as players in Silver Stars.
No one saw her and it was a big mystery for the Japanese friends. It was not until later on Ash Wednesday that the girls heard that a body was found in the Savannah. They enquired and their worst fears were realized.
Police said when her body has first discovered it appeared that she had died of natural causes, as there was one small abrasion on her chin. However, 24 hours later, the marks of violence surfaced and it was clear that the pannist was murdered.
Her autopsy confirmed the suspicions and concluded that she was manually strangled. Officers said around the woman’s neck and chest was several black and blue markings, suggesting she came to a violent end with little or no resistance, as she had no defensive wounds and beneath her nails, there was no evidence of tissue from her killer. The autopsy also confirmed that she was not sexually abused.
According to reports, Geoff Adams, of Tamana, was walking through the area when he noticed a homeless man screaming while pointing at a patch of the bush under a tree, mere metres away from Queen’s Royal College. When Adams checked he discovered Asami’s body and later went to the St Clair Police Station where he made a report.
POLICE EXAMINE ASAMI’S BODY