Year in review: Missing women cases unsolved

Anna Evans, Kerran Baker vanished in 2011

The Cayman Islands lost two young women this year in missing persons investigations that have never been brought to a close.  

Anna Evans, 37, and Kerran Baker, 25, are both presumed to be dead at this stage by police. However, neither of their bodies have ever been found. The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service has made one arrest in connection with Ms Baker’s disappearance, but no charges have been filed against the men taken into custody. No resolution has ever been brought about in Ms Evans disappearance.  

 

Anna Evans 

The missing George Town landfill worker hasn’t been seen since noon on 27 January – nearly a year ago now – when she was spotted by a relative at her work place. She left her handbag behind, but no traces of her or her cell phone have been found in the more than two months since.  

Anna’s mother, two sisters, one brother, numerous other relatives and even more friends and colleagues have long since begun to expect she’s never coming home; but largely for the sake of her five children they don’t often say so.  

Alden McLaughlin, the George Town MLA who is a close friend of the family, perhaps puts it best: “I think even those who had the greatest hope; that hope has faded. We have to come to the realisation that we don’t know what happened to Anna, but we know something bad happened to Anna.”  

Yet the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service has never found any clear evidence of that; at least not so far.  

Police know Anna’s husband was assaulted just a few hours after her family members learned she did not show up at the end of her work shift at the landfill on 27 January. The assault, according to Chief Inspector Richard Barrow, happened because the individuals involved believed the man had something to do with her disappearance. He was hospitalised after the attack and has been questioned by police. He cannot even be named, because he has not been charged, arrested or even formally accused of anything.  

All Anna’s family has to go on is their belief that one or more of the several landfill workers present on 27 January must have seen something of what happened to her.  

“I don’t understand why somebody does not come forward,” said Noreen Dixon, Anna’s sister. “They just don’t want to talk.” 

Noreen was taking care of Anna’s five children, Christopher, Celina, Chelsea, Cody and Cruz, at her home in West Bay. The children are going to school, wondering often where mom is; trying to cope. They sent her cards on Valentine’s Day.  

“The kids are breaking down every once in a while,” Noreen says. “They’ll think back to when they last saw their mother…and cry off and on. A frowning expression is always on their faces.” 

 

Reward problem 

Another difficult thing for Anna’s family to deal with has been the lack of a public reward offering by authorities or Cayman Crime Stoppers.  

Former Crime Stoppers Chairman Eric Bush said this isn’t out of apathy or malice. The organisation just doesn’t offer rewards in cases where no crime has been alleged, according to its bylaws.  

“There have been questions from the press about why Anna isn’t getting a $150,000 reward [offered] like Estella Scott-Roberts did,” said Crime Stoppers board member Stuart Bostock, referring to the 2008 rape and murder of Scott-Roberts, a well-known community activist and corporate communications manager for what was then Cable & Wireless. “We need to answer those questions.”  

At a Crime Stoppers meeting with the press earlier this year, local radio host Gilbert McLean put words to what has long been speculated since Anna disappeared.  

“I don’t believe there’s anybody in their clear minds who believes that that woman has not been murdered,” McLean said. “At what point will it be taken as something that’s criminal?”  

“Crime Stoppers international does not recognise missing persons as a reward scenario,” Bostock says. “The police give us the direction on a particular incident and the board decides how much a reward is going to be offered.”  

So, in the past few weeks Anna’s family and at least one local company have taken matters into their own hands and independently offered their own incentives for information that could help find Anna.  

But that, in itself, has led to some more disappointment.  

Family members and friends of the missing landfill worker managed to raise just more than $2,000 at a March weekend gathering held on Public Beach. They have since managed to raise $5,000 from other sources.  

In the weeks following the event, dms Corporation independently put up a $50,000 reward for information leading to Anna’s whereabouts.  

Dms Organization chief Don Seymour said that money would be offered as a reward for either helping find Anna or for information that leads to an arrest in connection with her disappearance, if it does turn out to be a criminal case.  

“We have watched the family struggle for many weeks and appeal to the community at large, and we want to do what we can to help and assure them that they are valued and we what to help them during this difficult time,” Seymour says. “We hope for a good outcome; but in the event that a crime has been committed, then we want justice for the family.”  

 

Kerran Baker 

There was some hope earlier this year that police may have made a break in Kerran Baker’s disappearance.  

Royal Cayman Islands Police Service officers arrested a man at his Prospect-area home in connection with the July disappearance of the Jamaican nurse.  

The man, 35, was taken into custody on suspicion of murder, according to police. He was identified by sources familiar with the case as an ex-boyfriend who had previously been involved in domestic-related incidents with Ms Baker on several occasions at her home and work. He was later released on police bail.  

Some relatives and friends of the missing nurse practitioner had not even heard the news of the murder suspect’s arrest when contacted.  

“Are you serious?” asked Dr. Ruthlyn Pomares, Ms Baker’s former employer. “I’m glad we’re getting some closure to the case.”  

Others close to Ms Baker said police had made the arrest based on evidence they collected combined with the previous threat incidents against the 25-year-old woman.  

“I’m very happy,” said Inia Ricketts, Ms Baker’s best friend who was the one to report her missing on Sunday, 31 July, after finding Ms Baker’s purse and some unpacked groceries left at the home she rented on Arrow Dr. in Beach Bay.  

“She would not leave paper towels on the floor, she would not leave meat or milk out like that; she was a neat freak,” Ms Ricketts said, after being contacted shortly after Ms Baker’s disappearance. “I think she was taken from inside her home.”  

The man who was arrested had been interviewed previously by police.  

RCIPS Superintendent Marlon Bodden said in August that there had been reports – both at Ms Baker’s residence and at her work – of a ‘domestic context’. By that, he said he meant threats and minor disturbances.  

Ms Pomares also acknowledged that Ms Baker, who was studying to become a full-fledged registered nurse, had received some unwanted attentions from an older man who had tried to force contact with her at work. However, the medical doctor noted that, even with the occasional trouble, Kerran was an upbeat and positive person to have around.  

“She was very likeable for the patients and she was a wonderful worker,” Ms Pomares said. “Whatever she could do, she would do. She was very receptive to learning.”  

Ms Pomares said Thursday that about two months ago she had accepted the obvious and hired someone to replace Ms Baker at her office.  

“I would just like to know what really happened.”  

 

Case went quiet  

After receiving massive local and international media attention for the first month following Ms Baker’s disappearance, things had seemingly gone quiet. The RCIPS stopped holding daily press briefings and few further advisories had been issued regarding the case.  

Police did not include any further details regarding the arrest Thursday morning, other than to indicate the suspect remained in custody.  

According to police, the first missing persons report to come in concerning Ms Baker was at 7.18pm Sunday evening, 31 July.  

Much of the investigative effort focused on trying to create a timeline to trace where the 25-year-old nurse was in the days and hours before her disappearance.  

On Friday night, 29 July, Ms Baker was spotted at a George Town bar. There were reports of an altercation at that bar between her and another woman, but police did not confirm details of the incident.  

At around 1.30am on Saturday, 30 July, Ms Baker was spotted by police driving through a traffic roadblock in Red Bay.  

Later in the day on Saturday police said she was seen at several locations including: Governor’s Beach at West Bay Road, Cost-U-Less, Kirk Home Centre, the Industrial Park area and the Fosters Food Fair airport store.  

The last known sighting of Ms Baker was around 7pm on Saturday, 30 July as she was leaving the Foster’s store.  

Attempts to contact Ms Baker by some of her friends on Sunday, 31 July, were not successful. Sometime between 6.15pm and 6.30pm Sunday, Ms Ricketts went to Ms Baker’s home in Bodden Town and with the assistance of the landlord, entered her friend’s apartment.  

It was around 12.30pm Monday, 1 August, that Ms Baker’s white Honda Civic was found parked on the cemetery lawn near Pedro St. James Castle.  

Kerran Baker year end pic

RCIPS officers search the trunk of Kerran Baker’s car on 1 August, 2011.