Say police weren’t there
Family members of 21-year-old Sabrina Schirn have confirmed it was her body found in East End Tuesday afternoon, near the rock quarry just west of High Rock Road.
A search party of five people; including Sabrina’s brothers, Kevin and John Michael, and her sister Kristina, located the partially decomposed remains around 1.20pm Tuesday.
‘I was able to identify her, no problem,’ Kevin said Wednesday morning. ‘Her body was decomposed but I could still recognise her face, her hair and the clothes she was wearing.’
Police have not said how Sabrina may have met her end, or when. She was last seen leaving work on Wednesday morning, 11 March in a co-worker’s car.
On Tuesday afternoon, the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service released a statement that read: ‘a member of the public who was assisting as part of the police search team due their local knowledge and familiarity with the area, discovered the body.’
But according to no fewer than six people involved in the search who were contacted by the Caymanian Compass, police had not spoken with members of the public who were searching the East End quarry area Tuesday.
In fact, those individuals all insisted that no police officers were even in the area for the entire day Tuesday.
‘We were searching on our own,’ said Randy Howard McLean, a family friend who was with the group that discovered Sabrina.
‘I was shocked, because I was under the impression that there was a search going on,’ Kevin said. ‘I was like, well, where are they?’
The five-person search party confirmed that the only other people they encountered Tuesday were a camera crew from the local television station.
Reporter Tammi Sulliman and Photo-journalist Leighton Pitterson indicated they saw no officers searching the area Tuesday. Compass photographer Jewel Levy also said she saw no police when she was in the area Tuesday morning.
Both Sabrina’s mother, Hope Schirn, and her boss at Blockbuster, Deborah McTaggart, said what happened Tuesday was the latest in a series of events over the past several days that have caused them major concern about the way RCIPS handled this missing person investigation.
Mrs. McTaggart said less than a week before Sabrina vanished, a man had come into Blockbuster and threatened the 21-year-old, allegedly holding a crowbar in his hand. After the man left, Mrs. McTaggart reported the incident to police, but said no officers arrived at the store. She said Sabrina later went to the police station to file a report, but Mrs. McTaggart said she was informed this week that no report on the incident could be found.
When Sabrina left work on Wednesday morning and didn’t show up to several scheduled appointments, Mrs. McTaggart became worried.
‘We kept calling and calling (Sabrina’s Blackberry) Wednesday night,’ she said. ‘This girl lived with a cell phone in her ear. If she’s not answering, something’s drastically wrong.’
On Thursday afternoon, when Sabrina didn’t show up for work, Mrs. McTaggart said she tried to report her employee missing. However, she said she was told by police that she couldn’t file a missing persons report because she wasn’t a family member.
Hope Schirn managed to file a report with police a couple of hours later on Thursday. But both women said officers gave the distinct impression that the matter wasn’t being taken seriously.
‘Police said ‘oh, it’s probably something to do with (an old boyfriend of Sabrina’s),’ Mrs. McTaggart said, referring to her attempt on Thursday to report Sabrina missing.
Mrs. Schirn said she was told on Friday that Sabrina’s case ‘wasn’t being treated as a missing person case’ because she had reportedly been sighted on Wednesday evening in North Side and that 48 hours had not passed.
A RCIPS detective did come to Mrs. Schirn’s home in South Sound early Friday morning to speak with her and collect a hairbrush for DNA sampling purposes.
‘She’s the only police officer who has been to my house to date,’ Mrs. Schirn said.
Family members began searching for Sabrina on Thursday night into Friday morning and continued those searches through the weekend. They began distributing missing person flyers around the community Friday.
By 5pm Friday, RCIPS had issued a missing person alert with Sabrina’s photo on it to the local press.
Mrs. Schirn also stated she met with the police inspector in charge of the case on Saturday afternoon and was shocked by the tone the interview took.
‘He held up one of the posters we were distributing all over the island and he said ‘this could do more harm than good; let the police do their work,” Mrs. Schirn recalled, adding that the inspector informed her police had ‘positive proof’ Sabrina was seen on Thursday.
‘He said ‘she’s eluding the police,” Mrs. Schirn said. ‘And he asked ‘why is she hiding?”
Mrs. Schirn also said the inspector indicated that Sabrina would face arrest once she was found.
The Honda Toreno Sabrina took from Blockbuster on Wednesday morning was located near the East End rock quarry along a dirt track late Monday afternoon. Police officers, family members, friends and interested bystanders descended on the area and searches continued until after dark. Nothing else was found.
Sabrina’s body was discovered less than 24 hours later about a mile away from where the car was found.
Kevin said he contacted the police to notify them that the search group had found the body. He also called his mother and grandmother to tell them Sabrina was dead.
‘We kept my sister (Kristina) from seeing the body,’ he said. ‘My mom’s taking it really hard. I had to make all the calls and let everyone know, so yeah, it’s hard.’
Mrs. Schirn said she felt there was ‘a strong connection’ between the man who allegedly threatened her daughter in the Blockbuster store and what happened to Sabrina.
‘These people know something,’ she said.
Mrs. McTaggart believes the alleged ‘sightings’ of Sabrina after she went missing were bogus, initiated by someone who didn’t want her to be found.
‘Police said they’d heard that she’d been spotted…and I said ‘no, she hasn’t.’ I told them Friday ‘if you don’t go quickly, she’s going to wind up dead,” Mrs. McTaggart said. ‘They got angry with me, because I was calling the police station too much. My husband said I was making them feel like they weren’t doing their job.’