(JAMAICA OBSERVER) — Alton Whyte, father of 24-year-old Shantel Whyte, who was murdered on New Year’s Eve, says he probably wouldn’t be in Jamaica “alive and walking around” had it not been for his daughter.
The way Whyte tells it, he was stranded in the Caribbean island of St Martin in 2017, “crippled from the waist down” as a result of work-related injuries, when his daughter brought him home and nursed him back to health.
“She called me and said, ‘Daddy, come home, because if anything further should happen to you I won’t be there for you’,” recalled Whyte.
“She (Shantel) paid mi fare and everything to bring me back to Jamaica… show me all the love and all the care you could expect from a daughter to a father, medical and otherwise…,” Whyte, in the company of family, friends and neighbours, told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.
When the Observer crew visited Shantel’s home in populous but serenely quiet Wilbin Street, Grey Ground, located east of Mandeville, and with spectacular, postcard-like views of mountainous central Manchester, a fair-sized group had gathered to mourn with family on the first day of 2020.
Shantel died at minutes after 6:00 pm at a popular supermarket in Mandeville, where she had worked for six years. Police and independent reports say she was shot dead by a supervisor at the supermarket with whom she is believed to have had a romantic relationship.
A source with knowledge about the incident said the murder suspect summoned Shantel, who was dining in the lunchroom of the establishment. She reportedly refused the request to see him and the suspect is alleged to have entered the dining area, pulled his licensed firearm, shooting her repeatedly before leaving the scene.
Unconfirmed reports say the alleged killer, now in police custody, is married with children. He turned himself in to personnel at the Mandeville Police Station before daybreak on New Year’s Day, and the weapon believed to have been used in the incident was also handed over to the police.
At the home yesterday, relatives said they knew Shantel’s alleged killer as a “close friend”; they couldn’t speak to anything “more than that”.
They spoke in hushed tones of the young woman, a past student of Cross Keys High and Villa Road Primary, who gave of herself to others.
“Shantel was so pleasant, she was so humble; she was a kind person, willing and hard-working… And she is there for everyone, from the small, young, and everyone, she didn’t trouble no one, always there… always there for me…,” said mother Cyrena Russell.
Shantel’s oldest sister Stacy-Ann Russell described “a wonderful person, she was for everybody; she didn’t keep malice with nobody at all. You never ask her for anything and she don’t give it. For somebody to take her life, it is hard… why take her life? Is not like she go around and argue with anybody for you to say she is a troublemaker or anything like that. She is not. She is a quiet and humble person…”
And Gertrude Nembhard, identified yesterday as Shantel’s close friend and “mother in law”, broke down in tears as she spoke to the Observer.
“Shany was a very good person. We love Shany so much. I don’t know what go down, but it hurts…,” she said.
Shantel’s death follows hard on the heels of that of Georges Valley carpenter Roy Leon, who was slain allegedly by his son earlier this week.
Domestic violence in Manchester — traditionally among Jamaica’s least crime-affected parishes — has long been a major concern.
It led to the formation of the Manchester Dispute Resolution and Violence Prevention Association in 2012 — which community leaders have said has had a positive impact.
Yesterday, Superintendent of Police Gary Francis, who is in charge of the Manchester division, told the Observer in a telephone interview that apart from renewing his appeal for individuals who are experiencing difficulties in domestic situations to seek help, an expanded programme of intervention initiated by custos of the parish Garfield Green, is shortly to be rolled out to more comprehensively address the issue of domestic disputes.