Some Tobago residents believe that the police have charged the wrong man with the brutal chopping of British couple Peter and Murium Greene. They believe that Clint Alexis, who is due to appear before a Tobago magistrate tomorrow, is being used as a scapegoat to appease public outrage. And to show that they are serious about their beliefs, residents from the village of Argyle, where the suspect is from, are going to stage a protest tomorrow in support of Alexis.
The Greenes were attacked and severely chopped at their Bacolet home one week ago. The couple has since been transferred to Trinidad and remain hospitalized in stable but serious condition at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex, Mt Hope.
A high powered team of police officers including ASP Johnnie Abraham and Insp Stanley Ramdeen was flown to the sister island following the chopping and has been carrying out investigations.
The suspect is also alleged to have confessed to the February 19, 2009 murder of German national Claudia Maria Feldmeier.
Yesterday angry villagers who insisted that the suspect was “a common thief” and not “a murderer” said they intend to go all out for him.
They claimed that the man from Argyle is a petty criminal who has a history of mental illness and would not engage in such a heinous and serious offense. Further, they fear that if the police go ahead and charge their fellow villager the real killer could still be at large and would most certainly strike again.
Some residents seem to have what sounded as key and confidential information that could suggest some doubt about the Argyle man’s guilt. One resident said, “Imagine the police took him, the suspect, to the scene where the crime was committed, and he couldn’t even point out the Greene’s house.”
They also told Newsday that “on Tuesday when they (the police) executed a search warrant at his (the suspect) home they found a Chinese chopper with two markings on the handle.”
Another resident echoed, “Do you know that this is the same weapon investigators now claimed to have found behind a huge rock yesterday (Friday)?”
It is being alleged that the suspect had told police that after chopping his victims in the face, he threw away the weapon behind a rock.
Residents agreed that apart from knowing the suspect, some of the evidence against him, as they know it, is “shaky”. And “that is why we will protest on Monday – it is because of public pressure that he has been arrested. Everyone want to see blood and he is paying for it. The killer is still at large and is likely to strike again – when that happens what will you say? The bottom line is that the real killer is walking.”
Neighbors of Alexis are still trying to come to terms with the news.
“I never knew him to be a violent person. A petty thief, yes but not a murderer. He never troubled anybody here and even the younger fellas around here does take advantage of him,” his childhood friend, Selon Robley said.
Like several other residents, Robley tried to come to terms with what Alexis, also known as “Conan”, is accused of committing. Robley recalled meeting Alexis about 14 years ago and the two have been almost like brothers since then. He described him as “very cool and humble” but admitted that the relationship became strained after Alexis began smoking marijuana and committing petty crimes around the community.
He said that he spoke with Alexis shortly before he was detained for breaking and entering the Argyle community centre on Tuesday and saw no indication of what was to come.
“He was liming good with some of the guys from the village. He didn’t act suspicious like he had done anything. Normally when he stole something and he knew that the police was looking for him, he would be hiding or acting jumpy so I imagine that it would be no different or even worse for something as big as attempted murder or even murder. This is really hard to believe,” Robley said.
Robley said that he could not understand why Alexis would have gone to “quite Bacolet” to rob and attack tourists when, if he really wanted to, he could have gone to the nearby Argyle Waterfall which is one of the most popular tourist attractions on the island.
Another of his neighbours, who requested anonymity, said that Alexis had been acting a bit strange recently but he too was unable to equate attempted murderer to his profile. He also said that Alexis had been virtually “crawling” due to an injury he sustained to his right foot prior to the Bacolet incident.
Meanwhile, tourism officials in Tobago are confident that the charging of a suspect will restore confidence in the island’s tourism sector.
President of the Tobago Hotel and Tourism Association, Carol-Ann Birchwood-James, joined other operators yesterday in heaping praises on the police for their work.
“This is a step in the right direction and we hope that the police continue in this vein because it shows that we are not going to tolerate that sort of behavior here. It also shows that the police is capable of protecting our tourists as well as residents,” she said while calling for the quick capture of any others who may have been involved.
She said that the industry suffered no cancellations or fallouts since the incident, except for the updated United Kingdom and Australian travel advisories. Efforts to contact Tobago House of Assembly Chief Secretary, Orville London and Tourism Secretary, Oswald Williams and acting Police Commissioner James Philbert proved futile.