ST. CROIX — It will be hard to remove the pain from the hearts of Virgin Islanders who have struggled with the viciousness of the crime that erased an entire family from the face of the earth.
But the atrocity perpetrated against Lyana Serieux and her boys Jeremiah and Jordan Serieux, have brought the U.S. Virgin Islanders together in more ways than one. First, they banded together by forming search parties to find the victims. Then, they combined their faiths in prayer asking God to comfort the family, heal the territory and bring the criminals to justice.
And on Saturday afternoon, in what must be one of the fastest online, community-led fundraisers on St. Croix, Virgin Islanders near and far raised $9,745.86, all of which will go to the family of Ms. Serieux for funeral arrangements.
“We did it!!!! We have met and exceeded our goal!!! Thank you community! For coming together and letting Lyana Serieux and her 2 boys Jordan and Jeremiah Serieux be laid to rest,” wrote an ecstatic Maxine Hart Young, who, along with Malik Stridiron, organized the PayPal fundraiser. “On behalf of the Serieux Family Malik Stridiron and I would like to thank each and every one of you for coming together and helping us to be a beacon of light in a dark situation. We love ❤️ you”
The fundraiser began in earnest at about 9:45 p.m. on Friday with a Facebook Live broadcast by Mrs. Young. The goal of $9,500 was met and surpassed on Saturday afternoon, less than a day after it started.
Virgin Islanders at home and the diaspora expressed gladness that the goal had been met, and thanked Mrs. Young and Mr. Stridiron for their heavy involvement in not only the fundraising effort, but also the search.
“Thank you [Maxine] and Malik for leading this charge, May God favor shine upon you,” wrote Teshia Baily. “Thank you [for] being such a good leader in this matter. God has truly made you an Apostle. Your are [a] wonderful person and I’m am glad that I have you as my friend on Facebook. The community need more people like you. Thank you,” added Virginia Aubaine.
At time of writing, the post from Mrs. Young announcing that the goal had been met, had 874 likes and 246 shares. Her fundraising videos garnered over 40,000 views combined.
Funeral plans for Ms. Serieux and her boys have not been announced. Once they are, however, The Consortium will make those plans known to the public.
What is now one the most vicious crimes committed in modern Virgin Islands history, started on Friday, the last day Ms. Serieux along with her two sons were seen. Ms. Serieux’s family members had conducted their own search, but turned to police on Sunday after futile attempts. By Monday night at about 7:30 p.m., police discovered a 2011 Silver Toyota Yaris with license plate number CFR 304 — confirmed to be that of Ms. Serieux — burnt in Upper Love.
The following day at about 11:35 a.m., moments after a V.I.P.D. press briefing seeking the community’s assistance, the bodies of Ms. Serieux’s two minor sons — 10-year-old Jordan Serieux and 5-year-old Jeremiah Serieux — were discovered on the south shore near Ha’Penny Beach. The tragic nature of the discovery rocked the territory, with many expressing disbelief that such cruelty had occurred here.
The search continued for Ms. Serieux on Wednesday. On Wednesday evening, some residents gathered at Fort Christianvaern for prayer, and were joined by tens of thousands more from around the world. “I stand with you in prayer from Jerusalem,” said Hannah Jasmine McCoy. “Prayers from the Santos family from East Tennessee,” said Mario N. Wendy Santos. “Praying and standing in agreement in Indianapolis,” said Claire James.
V.I.P.D. Commissioner Delroy Richards vowed to bring those responsible to justice. “We are going to pursue the individual or individuals responsible, and we want them to know that. We are going to leave no stone unturned, and we’re going to be aggressively involved in trying to bring this to a closure,” he said.
The commissioner said that the force has been following every lead it gets — down to comments online — to try and piece together what really happened. “So far we have been unable to confirm a lot of them,” he said. He did, however, confirm that items of “evidentiary value” were discovered in the abandoned building.
The killing of Ms. Serieux and her two minor sons brought the territory’s homicide count to 37 for 2017. By August 29 last year, the territory had already seen 47 homicides in total, 40 of which were gun-related and another 7 were vehicular.