Members of the Seventh-day Adventist church in Bodden Town gathered Monday night to try and make sense of the tragic killing of a 6-year-old girl, just as police were trying to piece together what led to Bethany Butler’s death.
The death has hit the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service hard because the child’s father Lenford Butler is a sergeant on the local force.
“Our condolences go out to the family members of this young child and in particular her father,” said RCIPS Chief Inspector Malcolm Kay.
Pastor Shian O’Connor, who presided over the service, also spent a part of Monday with Mr. Butler following news of his daughter’s death.
“This is a real tragedy; it is not foreseeable,” Mr. O’Connor said. “We’ve heard of these things happening [outside Cayman] and in watching the television, but when it strikes home, it’s terrible.
“It’s an extremely difficult time. It affects all of us. It sends shock waves through the Cayman Islands and beyond.”
Mr. Butler, who attended college in St. Vincent and who served for a while on the Turks and Caicos Islands police force, could not be reached for comment Monday. However, he had posted a picture on his Facebook page of Bethany accepting an award at Savannah Primary School. Friends and family passed along condolences.
Pastor O’Connor said the more than 100 church members who attended Monday night’s service made pledges to “rally around [Sgt. Butler] and give to him in all means.” He said the officer is also receiving support from the RCIPS Family Support Unit.
“We will be there also for the family members of his wife,” Pastor O’Connor said.
Bethany was found Monday inside a vehicle that had apparently been abandoned along a dirt track near Barefoot Beach in Grand Cayman’s East End district. RCIPS Chief Superintendent Kurt Walton said police have opened a murder inquiry into the girl’s death and arrested a 37-year-old woman found near the scene of the crime Monday morning.
The woman who was arrested, identified as Tamara Butler, is the wife of Sgt. Butler and Bethany’s mother. She had not been charged with any crimes as of press time Tuesday, but she remained in police custody.
Local police also searched the couple’s home in the Savannah-Newlands area Monday. They did not specify whether they believed the child was killed there.
According to an RCIPS statement about the incident: “At approximately 4:59 a.m. Monday…a police patrol came across a parked SUV on the road side along the Queens Highway, East End. Upon further investigation the Police Officers discovered the body of a 6 year old girl inside the vehicle.
“A subsequent search of the area utilizing the RCIPS helicopter and other ground units found a 37-year-old female resident of Newlands not far from the parked vehicle. She was subsequently connected to the vehicle and was arrested on suspicion of murder and remains in police custody while the investigation continues.”
“We would be very interested in speaking to anyone who may have been on the Queens Highway in the early hours of Monday morning and who may have seen a light-colored SUV parked anywhere along the roadside,” Chief Inspector Kay said Tuesday.
Mrs. Butler’s family lives in the Turks and Caicos Islands, where her mother Claudette Munroe-Clare is former private school principal and her stepfather, William Clare, is the former chief secretary of the islands civil service.
Attempts to contact the Clare family at their bookstore on Providenciales Island were unsuccessful, but an employee noted that they intended to travel to Grand Cayman to be with their daughter.
It was reported in the Turks and Caicos Islands media that Mrs. Butler had been residing in the islands and had relatively recently left to return to Grand Cayman.