Dead is 53-year-old Michelle Gayle-Brown of Retirement, St. James. She was found sometime in the evening on Monday, October 31 in her home with her head severed. Residents of the town were shell-shocked when the news of the gruesome incident reached their ears.
Police sources reported that she was attacked and decapitated by her adult mentally ill son. Though found late evening, it is suspected that the victim was killed earlier in the morning. After she did not show up for work that day, her worried Freeport co-workers involved police who did a spot check at her house, only to find her dead with her head missing. The severed body part was later recovered from under a bed in the house. Furthermore, the deceased’s upper body was also engraved with defensive wounds.
At the scene of the crime, the victim’s son, who still remains unnamed, surrendered to the police with his hands held in the air. He was handcuffed and taken and detained.
According to the Jamaica Observer, the residents of Retirement described Gayle-Brown to be “a pleasant, God-fearing woman,” while her son was mentally troubled.
Nolda Barnaby, a neighbour of Gayle-Brown stated, “we were very good friends. She was somebody you can depend on. My daughter nearly drop dung when mi tell her wah happen.” Grief-stricken and shaken by the horrendous crime, she recounted her last, fleeting, conversation with Gayle-Brown. Voice thick with regret and sorrow she uttered, “Sunday morning mi did haffi rush out fi go a work, and when mi reach mi call her because mi realise seh she did a call me. From that mi nuh hear from her again.”
Another neigbour also reported that on Sunday evening, he witnessed the son displaying strange behaviour. Describing the incident, he mentioned, “Yesterday I was doing some work outside in the back and I heard him making some strange noise over there. He was shouting loudly, which was out of the ordinary. He wasn’t even talking to anybody.”
Multiple other residents said their piece in relation to the murder. Someone said, “I am in shock as well because we had an interaction on Friday. She asked me to share something that I had with her. She was saying to me that as neighbours we need to interact more,” while another retold the story of how Gayle-Brown, a devout church goer, lent a hand to with another resident to clear flood waters from the roads with a trusty shovel.
A cousin of the deceased, Adrian Muirhead, remarked that the family is devastated by the news. Expressing that his relationship with Gayle-Brown was more like a sibling connection because they grew up together, Muirhead announced, “We had a very good relationship, we communicated every week. Bwoy, I can’t even fathom this. I don’t even know what to think. It is just shocking. Everybody in shock right now. We did not expect this.”
Detailing the events leading up to the discovery of her death, Muirhead stated that multiple attempts to reach her by phone ended in failure, then not long after, another family member and a neighbour from the community reached out to find out if he had heard from her. The family member who lived in upper St. James called back to relay the grim news after which Muirhead traveled to Retirement.