Zaila’s husband kept her away from her family for 15 years
By Isanella Patoir
Life for 37-year-old Zaila Sugrim was one of constant fear and physical abuse, and one that kept her away from her family for 15 years – preventing her from even knowing when her mother died and when she was laid to rest.
Zaila’s body was found Tuesday partially burnt and decomposed in a shallow grave on the western side of the Shell Gas Station at Crane, West Coast Demerara, which she previously managed with her ex-husband Ryan Sugrim.
Sugrim has since confessed to the Police that he killed her. First, he shot her to the head, then burnt her body and buried the remains.
Until last year August, Zaila had not seen or spoken to her family in 15 years. She finally moved out of her La Grange, West Bank Demerara home leaving two of her five children behind.
Her brother, Ahmad Hanif, said it was last year that he was contacted by Zaila who asked him to go fetch her.
He was in disbelief, so much so that he asked her to tell him her date of birth. He thought it was some weird trap. Understandable, because he had not heard from her in 15 years!
Once he collected her, her words were clear. She had enough; she had made up her mind never to live another day with her husband.
“Okay, no problem,” was her brother’s reply.
Zaila and Ryan met while they were students at the University of Guyana and soon after were married. How could Zaila know she was wedded to a monster?
Just a couple of days into the marriage, the abuse started. Zaila made a run for it, returning to the Mahaicony, East Coast Demerara home where her family lived at the time.
When Zaila’s father got involved, he was chopped to his head and hands by Sugrim.
The Police got involved but the case was soon dismissed. Fearing for her family’s safety, Zaila returned to live with Sugrim.
“Since [she] go back with he, we never ever get back in contact with me sister – bout 15 years.”
However, the brother said his mother would always try to contact her and even tried taking her to get help, but Zaila refused.
“She turn and say that she ain’t want problem with her family.”
Zaila’s mother was diagnosed with cancer and in her last days alive, she wanted to see Zaila. An elder brother visited the husband at the gas station but things went horribly wrong when he asked that Zaila go to the hospital to see her mother.
Hanif said the husband chased and ran his brother out the compound.
When her brother had left, reports were that Zaila was beaten, simply because her mother wanted to see her.
Eventually, her mother died, but Zaila was not able to attend the funeral.
In December 2018, Zaila was beaten and hospitalized.
Early in their relationship, Zaila was beaten and hospitalised but Sugrim told the family that “three African persons” robbed and beat her.
The story did not add up because Zaila still had her phone and bag with money.
He explained that it was only when the family were alone with Zaila that she told them the truth. He had beaten her and she begged for her life. It was only when she agreed to go along with the robbery story that he took her to the hospital.
“I make a report and I went to the hospital; the Police catch him the same time when he go to attack she…and they pass he through the court.”
But he was released.
Last Saturday was the last day anyone saw or heard from Zaila.
Her brother said about 10:30hrs that day, his sister left to go and celebrate her son’s birthday at Sugrim’s residence.
About 2:30 that afternoon, she met with another sister at Vreed-en-Hoop and told her she was waiting on Sugrim to pick her up.
No one knows where they went but Zaila would normally call the family about 5 or 6 in the afternoon if she was going to return home late. But there was no call. The family called multiple times but the phone was off.
Hanif said he eventually called Sugrim, who also said he did not see Zaila, and furthermore, he didn’t want Zaila at his premises.
After he did not hear from her throughout the course of the night, Hanif made a missing person report at the Diamond Police Station and even posted it on Facebook.
The brother said someone reached out to him on Facebook and said they saw Sugrim picking up Zaila at Vreed-en-Hoop around the Republic Bank area.
After this, Hanif took two police officers along with him to Sugrim’s house where he maintained that he did not know where his wife was.
The children said their father never left home on Saturday.
Hanif said he continued to call his sister’s phone but after more suspicions arose, he went back to the Sugrim’s residence with four police officers on Monday.
Sugrim reportedly refused to talk to the police officers; it wasn’t until more officers arrived that the husband started speaking. The officers searched the premises and did not find anything amiss.
The Police decided to check the car – they found bloodstains.
Sugrim was arrested and taken to the La Grange Police Station.
Neighbours in the Crane gas station area told the News Room that they recalled a huge fire inside the compound on Saturday night.
According to the neighbours, they informed Sugrim of the fire and he extinguished it himself before the fire service arrived.
Sugrim remains in police custody.