Berbice boy laid to rest; girlfriend of main accused attends funeral
By Devina Samaroo
Feelings of regret and sorrow filled the atmosphere as friends, families and even the girlfriend of main accused said their final goodbyes to 12 – year – old Leonard Archibald who was raped and murdered by a known child molester.
Archibald was described by family members and teachers as a boy with incredible potential; his uncles said he loved to ‘help out’ construction workers on various projects.
The body of the young man was found in the Berbice River, six days after he was reported missing.
Archibald, of Brother’s Village in Berbice, went missing after he left home to pick up two of his sisters from a birthday party in a nearby village.
Two men, including a villager who is a known child molester, have since confessed to the crime and are expected to be charged shortly.
They are Hillary Edwards – the man who raped the child and Nicholas Christopher – the man who assisted in dumping the boy’s unconscious body in the Berbice River.
Girlfriend of the main accused
The 21 – year-old girlfriend of the main accused, with whom she has a 4-year-old son, attended the funeral.
The young lady broke down in tears as she struggled to come to grips with the fact that the man she shared a relationship with for 6 years is going to be charged with rape and murder.
Her uncle, Royvan David told News Room that he had knowledge of Edwards being a molester but he never intervened to prevent his niece from dating the man.
Many other villagers admitted to hearing stories about Edwards molesting several children before but they all stayed silent – in many cases, for fear of stigmatization.
In one case, the family had reported the matter to the police but no action was ever taken against the perpetrator.
Blame and neglect
Regional Chairman David Armogan, who attended the funeral service, declared that villagers have to accept blame for the neglect which led to the child’s demise.
“Something has to be wrong with his [Edwards] brains and I think he needs to be examined. And I understand too that there are still others like that who might be walking around our streets. Maybe if we had taken the precaution based on what happened before, we might have avoided this little boy being here today,” Armogan stated.
He told mourners that “maybe we’re all at fault, not only the police but the neighbourhood and all other persons who should be responsible people in our community, we all need to take the blame for what has happened.”
A social worker also called on the community to become better protectors of children.
“We need to stop child abuse, break the cycle. If we as a community do not take serious firm action to prevent a reoccurrence of what has happened here, it will continue,” he warned.
Villagers were urged not to let young Archibald’s death be in vain and to refrain from being silent when it comes to matters of child abuse.