Grief and horror have gripped two families and a Princes Town community has been left in shock after a couple hanged themselves in the presence of their nine-year-old daughter on Saturday.
Unable to come to terms with the tragedy, the relatives of Steve Jugmohan, 40, said they had no indication that Jugmohan and his common-law-wife Sharlene Ramkissoon, 38, were under that degree of distress.
They believe that the couple may have been experiencing financial woes. Jugmohan and Ramkissoon recorded a video in front of their daughter in which they spoke about what they were going to do and asked their relatives to take care of their children.
Jugmohan also recorded a second video, but none of the videos showed their deaths, police said.
The couple had been in a relationship for about ten years and lived downstairs Jugmohan’s family’s home at La Paille Road.
The couple’s other child, a five-year-old boy, was born with a hole in his heart.
Fortunately, he was with Jugmohan’s relatives who live upstairs in the house.
Judgmohan’s other daughter, a 16-year-old girl from a previous relationship, also lived upstairs while Ramkissoon’s two other sons live with their father in the United States.
Trying to contain her emotions, Jugmohan’s older sister Sharon said around 11.50 am her niece came upstairs and told her that her parents had hanged themselves.
“She say aunty, aunty come mummy and daddy hang themselves I say what you saying girl. She say yes aunty come and see.”
Sharon said when she went downstairs she saw Ramkissoon on the ground in the bedroom and her brother hanging from the ceiling in the bathroom.
“I start to shake so I just run out back. I ran back to my mom and said, ‘It’s true, it’s true’.”
Sharon said she called the police and they told her not the touch anything.
She asked the officer to call the Emergency Health Services (EHS) ambulance because she wasn’t sure if her sister-in-law was dead.
When the ambulance arrived, she said they waited until the police came because they were not sure if it was a homicide. While she heard that there may be two videos, Sharon said she only saw one of them.
“The video just state that they were in problems and they ask for help and nobody helped them. (They ask) the two grandparents to take care of the children and whatever they have is for the children,” she said.
Ramkissoon said the couple never confided in anyone about their problems, but she realised something was wrong when he sold two of his vehicles.
“Recently he sold some of the vehicles and asked him what going on why it is he selling out the stuff and he just said that apparently the girl was in some problems and he had to help her but he never give details as to what it is. They use to keep to themselves,” she said.
Sharon added that Jugmohan did not have a steady job and her sister-in-law worked in a Play Whe booth.
She said her mother has a maxi which Jugmohan was supposed to be working, but he did more private jobs.
She is worried about the children, particularly her niece who has not really talked to them about what she saw or the incident.
However, she said Ag Police Commissioner McDonald Jacob visited them on Saturday and promised to arrange counselling for the children.
“She was in the video that they made so is something she not ready to talk but the Commissioner was here and he said he would send counselling for her and he will look into the matter to have something done for the children to help them with the situation,” she recalled. Sharon said words cannot describe how they are feeling. How could words describe that to actually walk in (on) your bother hanging…not something that words can describe,” she said.
While at the house, Ramkissoon’s mother and sister arrived, but they declined to comment.
Councillor Shawn Premchand said the community is in shock over the couple’s death as well as the murder of Vishal Ramjohn who lived not far away from the couple’s home.
Extending condolences to the families, he said, “The authorities really need to get involved, especially in this case where a child is involved. Maybe we could have through the Ministry of Social Development, we could have somebody who could come and assist, maybe with therapy or in whatever way they could,” said Premchand.
Attempts to reach Jacob on his cellphone were unsuccessful.