Investigators are looking into the possibility that a desire for revenge led to this weekend’s disappearance and presumed death of Cable and Wireless Communications Manager Estella Scott-Roberts.
Royal Cayman Islands Police were still unable to state for certain whether it was Mrs. Scott-Roberts’ body found in a burned out SUV in the West Bay dykes Saturday morning simply because the remains were so badly damaged. A forensic pathologist from Miami was flown in to perform a post mortem exam, but results of that exam were not available at press time Monday.
RCIPS Chief Inspector Peter Kennett said detectives were considering the possibility that someone who had been released from prison, or a former inmate who might have a grudge against Mrs. Scott-Roberts may have taken her from a parking lot between Deckers restaurant and the Buckingham Square complex on West Bay Road late Friday.
Before joining Cable and Wireless in 2006, Mrs. Scott-Roberts served as director of the Cayman Islands Crisis Centre, a refuge and assistance centre for abused women. One of the things she did for the centre was provide court statements on behalf of assault, rape and domestic violence victims.
There were speculative stories circling the island over the weekend that someone who was released from prison Friday sought out Mrs. Scott-Roberts for retaliation. There were also reports that she had received threats in the past from certain individuals during her work at the crisis centre.
However, Mr. Kennett could not confirm those accounts.
‘It’s one of the lines of enquiry that’s being pursued,’ he said.
A pair of shoes believed to belong to Mrs. Scott-Roberts was found in the car park after her disappearance, indicating there had been a struggle.
The charred remains of a 2007 Ford Edge owned by Mrs. Scott-Roberts were located mid-morning Saturday on a dyke road near The Shores. Police are considering the case a murder investigation.
Mr. Kennett said the Ford SUV was believed to have been parked in the narrow lot between Deckers and the Buckingham Square complex on West Bay Road. The area is adjacent to the back parking lot of Deckers and is poorly lit.
Investigators were seeking to determine if closed-circuit TV cameras in the area had managed to capture any incidents between 11pm and midnight Friday. They were uncertain how the SUV got from the parking lot to the dykes.
Detectives said they could also not rule out the possibility that Mrs. Scott-Roberts’ disappearance was a ‘crime of opportunity,’ the possibility that a complete stranger snatched her from the parking lot.
Mrs. Scott-Roberts had been attending a birthday party thrown for her by some friends at Deckers before she disappeared. She turned 33 on 8 October.
One potential suspect investigators have ruled out is Mrs. Scott-Roberts’ husband Rayle Roberts.
‘He is in no way a suspect whatsoever,’ Mr. Kennett said.
Mr. Roberts met with officers Saturday afternoon at George Town Police Station. About 50 people waited outside the station to comfort him and to learn whatever they could about what happened to Mrs. Scott-Roberts.
If the body inside the burned out SUV is formally identified as Mrs. Scott-Roberts, she will become the second person to have been found dead this year inside a burning car in Cayman.
The first, 40-year-old Swiss banker Frederic Bise, had also gone to Deckers restaurant the night before his body was found in a car parked in the driveway of a West Bay home. However, Mr. Bise was seen alive at other locations in West Bay following his appearance at Deckers, according to witnesses.
‘(It’s) a bit of a coincidence perhaps,’ Mr. Kennett said. ‘Both deceased had gone to Deckers and both had ended up in a burning car, but there’s nothing other than that to link the two.’
Mr. Bise’s remains were not nearly as badly damaged as those found in Mrs. Scott-Roberts’ vehicle, and his vehicle was set alight in a driveway near a busy street.
Police arrested a 28-year-old man in connection with Mr. Bise’s death. However, no charges have ever been filed in the case.
RCIPS officers arrested a man on suspicion of ganja possession near the location where Mrs. Scott-Roberts’ vehicle was found. However, it was not believed that the man had anything to do with her disappearance.
No other arrests had been reported at press time in connection with Mrs. Scott’s disappearance and presumed death. She would be the seventh homicide victim in Cayman for 2008.
A community grieves
Attendees at the First Baptist Church Sunday heard their pastor speak of the brutal crime, which had occurred the day before, some whom had not even been aware of Mrs. Scott-Roberts’ disappearance.
It was the church Mrs. Scott-Roberts was accustomed to attend.
Stunned friends, family members, colleagues and political leaders gathered outside the George Town Police Station Saturday seeking answers to what many believed was a type of crime heretofore unseen in the Cayman Islands.
A support group was started on the Facebook website, where people left comments supporting Mrs. Scott-Roberts’ family and praising her contributions to Cayman.
The site was entitled ‘standing by our beloved Estella Scott in her fight against abuse.’
Plans were being made to hold this year’s Silent Witness March, an annual event held in support of domestic violence victims, in Mrs. Scott-Roberts’ honour. The event is scheduled to start at 12.30pm Saturday outside the government administration building in George Town.
A moment of silence was held in memory of Mrs. Scott-Roberts at Monday’s Legislative Assembly sitting. Weeping could be heard from inside the chamber as lawmakers bowed their heads.
‘This unimaginable crime is an assault on every man, woman and child in this community,’ Health Minister Anthony Eden said.
Compass reporter James Dimond contributed to this story.