Back to square one in search of Ria Sookdeo

Tuesday, September 27, 2016 - 04:30

The glimmer of hope the family of Ria Sookdeo felt when investigators arrested a police constable and his sister for the woman’s abduction was dashed yesterday after the suspects were released.

Sookdeo’s father, Frankie Rajkumar, said they felt some relief when police went to Rochard Road, Penal, on Sunday and arrested the suspects and impounded the black Nissan X-Trail SUV believed to be used in Sookdeo’s kidnapping. 

After learning of their release, Rajkumar said it felt like they were back to square one.

On Sunday, officers from the Anti-Kidnapping Squad went to the home of the suspended police officer around 8 am and found the SUV parked in the backyard. Both occupants of the house were questioned by the police and left with police officers.

According to reports, the woman, a senior employee of the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA), told investigators she was at work when the abduction occurred last Thursday. 

Her brother, a police constable, last attached to the Central Division Task Force, was released around 1 am yesterday. He is on suspension having been charged by the Professional Standards Bureau for tipping off a suspect that police were on their way to make an arrest. The matter is set for trial next year.

Southern Division police took several statements from Sookdeo’s Raghoo Village neighbours and Papourie Road residents near the area where she was abducted. 

CCTV footage from a nearby bar shows a black Nissan X-Trail SUV in the parking lot minutes before she was abducted. While there was no confirmation whether it was the same SUV used, police are still pursuing that lead.

According to reports, Sookdeo, 34, a hairstylist, dropped off her two children, aged nine and five, at the Picton Presbyterian Primary School around 8.30 am last Thursday. As she drove her red Nissan X-Trail to Picton Estate Drive to turn, a black Nissan X-Trail SUV pulled up behind, blocking her path. 

Two men, wearing tactical gear, forced her out of her SUV and into theirs and drove off. Police have since released a sketch of one of the suspects who wore a cap with the word police written on the front.

The SUV bore a false registration number, which actually belonged to a Ford Ranger pickup which was owned by the neighbour of the two people detained on Sunday. 

However, the neighbour told police he crashed last year and the pickup was never restored. It was also stolen two years ago and later returned to the owner. 

Police said they were also on the hunt for a well-known Moruga man, who has several charges against his name, to assist them in Sookdeo’s case.

While relatives suspect Sookdeo might be a victim of human trafficking and was being shipped to a South American country, investigators said she was an unlikely candidate. 

Investigators said human traffickers usually target children and young adults without children. They also said based on sensitive information they have, her abduction does not appear to be human trafficking.

Rajkumar said because they believed police made a breakthrough, they did not do any searches of their own on Sunday and yesterday. 

He said they were worn out by sleepless nights and poor appetite over the last four days.

Tip hotline

• Anyone with information can contact Insp Don Gajadhar, Sgt Natasha Morrison or Cpl Barry Bacchus at the San Fernando CID at 652-2564 or Crime Stoppers at 800-TIPS.

SOURCE: (Kevon Felmine)