Ask just any older American where they were and what they were doing when they first heard John F. Kennedy had been assassinated, and they’ll be able to tell you.
Certain historic events, which people almost immediately recognise as momentous because of their inherent shock, are like that. Some of those occurrences mark the end of era; some mark the beginning of a new one.
Here in the Cayman Islands, the date 11 October 2008 will be one such event for those who truly call this place home.
At the time of this writing, Estella Scott-Roberts is missing and possibly the victim of one of the most shocking crimes ever to take place in the Cayman Islands.
Estella disappeared sometime late Friday night.
On Saturday, after she was reported missing to the police, her burnt vehicle was found with a body inside in the area of the dyke roads in West Bay. Although police were unable to identify the body, family and friends – and indeed the whole Cayman community – can only fear the worst.
What happened to Estella is not known. But a ghastly scenario is in the minds of all.
There have been killings in the Cayman Islands before. But not like this; and not to someone as well-known, talented and courageous as Estella.
Her work in establishing the Women’s Resource Centre, a safe-haven for victims of domestic abuse, impacted the lives of scores of women here.
Yes, there have been murders in the Cayman Islands over the years. And although all of those murders left mourners, the community has been able to take some solace – even if limited – in the fact that nearly all of Cayman’s relatively few murders have been associated with the drug trade, domestic disputes or robberies.
What seems to have happened to Estella is far more sinister.
It can be argued the Cayman Islands lost the last vestige of its innocence in those unruly months after Hurricane Ivan, when execution-style murders took place in broad daylight in George Town and an attempted daylight murder occurred inside of George Town Hospital.
What we discovered on Saturday morning, however, has blackened our community with a blow that will likely alter the path of this country forever. When we mourn for Estella, we should simultaneously mourn for our community.
The dozens of people who stood outside of George Town Police Station Saturday, like the countless others who heard the shocking news over the course of 10/11, all probably knew this was about more than just the death of one very special person. It was about an event so disturbing, so monstrous, so consequential, that it can only mark the beginning of a new era here.
It’s an era we’re not sure anyone wants to see.