Sunday Express Editorial

JADE PETERS, the missing 12-year-old featured yesterday in our series “SKS—Someone Knows Something”, underscores the need for greater police urgency in investigating missing persons reports as well as improvements in crime detection.

On Boxing Day 2014, Jade left her home at Dow Village, California, around 10 p.m., saying she was going to buy a phone card. No one reported seeing her walking to the shop, leaving her family to believe she may have been picked up by a car. What is intriguing about this case is the family’s insistence that they know who took their daughter, and that within days of her disappearance the suspected perpetrator actually came to their home, fired shots injuring a teenager, and threatened them about going to the police.

Jade’s father, Wayne Peters, believes her kidnapping was linked to a court matter brought against the alleged suspect for assaulting Jade’s older sister. Interviewed for yesterday’s story, the parents’ pain was raw and their bitterness over the police’s handling of Jade’s disappearance more pronounced than ever with the loss of hope. While they are high in praise of some members of the Anti-Kidnapping Squad which initially responded to the report, they are disappointed at what they consider early policing failures.

The family’s worry now is that the mystery of their daughter’s disappearance will never be solved and that it will die a natural death as a cold case. In a last-ditch attempt to resuscitate the investigation, the family said they tried to contact Police Commissioner Gary Griffith, but were unsuccessful. Perhaps Commissioner Griffith has now read yesterday’s Express update on the Jade Peters case which occurred more than three and a half years before he took office. While he would have the benefit of the several reports filed by the police on their investigations, we encourage him to reach out to this family to hear their perspective on the investigation, and to assure them a cold case is not a dead case.

Indeed, five months after his appointment in August 2018, Commissioner Griffith announced his intention to strengthen the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service’s Cold Case Unit (CCU). Speaking to the media ahead of a trip to the UK in January 2019, he said he planned to seek expert input from his counterparts in the UK and the US to help strengthen the TTPS’ technological capacity for solving old cases using DNA and forensic testing, among other things. He expected that the CCU would be fully established and functional with equipment and trained personnel by mid-2019.

While we do not know the specifics of the upgrade that has occurred at the CCU, we note that in July Commissioner Griffith announced a 100-per cent increase in solved murder cases, with persons being charged in 41 cases. He attributed the increase to investigative and technological improvements. Reference was also made to the involvement of the CCU, which would suggest it is active. Hopefully, it can continue to prove its worth by solving the mystery of what happened to Jade Peters and the many other persons who have disappeared without a trace.

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