Photos of bodies circulated online, mother tells jury

The mother of Nichelle Anna-Kay Thomas, whose body was found in a Bodden Town house two years ago with multiple chop wounds, told a coroner’s jury this week that photographs of her daughter’s body were circulated on the Internet.

The scene of February 2014's murder-suicide in Bodden Town. Photo: Brent Fuller
The scene of February 2014’s murder-suicide in Bodden Town. Photo: Brent Fuller

Photos of the body of Ms. Thomas’s boyfriend, Devon Roy Campbell, found hanging from a tree nearby, were also on social media, Ms. Thomas’s mother, Carol Lola French, said.

The bodies were discovered on Sunday morning, Feb. 9, 2014, at the home of Ms. Thomas’s employer in Bodden Town.

In a statement read Monday by Queen’s Coroner Eileen Nervik, Ms. French, who lives in Jamaica, said she learned of her 21-year-old daughter’s death when a family member received a phone text that she had been killed in Grand Cayman.

People started saying Ms. Thomas had been killed and the man hanged himself. “I was hearing she had been chopped to pieces … people started telling me about pictures on Facebook … I was hearing about pictures before I got official notice from the police,” she said.

She said someone showed her a picture, thinking it would help her, but it was the most painful experience she ever had. “I just started screaming. I couldn’t believe my baby was dead.”

She added, “I keep happy pictures of her around the house, but that picture [the one she was shown] is one I will never forget.”

Ms. French said she heard that people were selling the picture for $200. “She was a strong, pretty girl and now people only know her for what Tony [Mr. Campbell] did,” she said. She also saw a picture of Mr. Campbell’s body in a tree.

Images on the Internet last forever, she pointed out, adding that someday she would have to explain to the couple’s baby what happened to her mother and father. “I don’t want her to think badly of her parents,” she said.

She said she wanted compensation from the person who took the pictures and compensation for the baby: “The images will scar her future.”

She told the jury she first met Mr. Campbell, who was 39 when he died, when her daughter brought him home to tell her she was pregnant. She said she asked him to let her daughter get on with her life. “Tony was a big man and Pouchie [Ms. Thomas’s nickname] had not left her childhood,” she said.

After the baby was born in 2011, she kept the baby for a while and Mr. Campbell sent her money for the baby’s care. She asked Mr. Campbell to send Ms. Thomas home because she was still a child and needed to get on with her life.

Threats to kill

Ms. Thomas’s sister, Carole Green, in her statement told the court that Mr. Campbell had threatened to kill her sister if she left him and then kill himself.

Ms. Green said her sister was 17 and still in high school in Jamaica when she met Mr. Campbell, who was the brother of a school friend. When Ms. Thomas turned 18, she left the family home and rented an apartment and bought furniture with money she got from Mr. Campbell.

Ms. Green said the family was very upset and then even more upset when they learned that Mr. Campbell was married to a woman they knew.

Mr. Campbell worked in Cayman and Ms. Thomas visited him there. She went back and forth several times. She got permits to work in Cayman. Ms. Green said they spoke frequently by phone and her sister told her that Mr. Campbell would not let her go anywhere without him. Ms. Green said he was beating Ms. Thomas and abusing her all the time.

When Ms. Thomas was in Jamaica, Mr. Campbell would phone from Cayman to check up on her. He told Ms. Green that if Ms. Thomas left him, he will kill her and then kill himself.

Ms. Thomas borrowed money to go home to Jamaica in June 2013 but returned to Cayman in September. “I could not believe she would allow Tony to talk her into going back,” Ms. Green said.

By February 2014, Ms. Thomas was planning to return to Jamaica. She did not have any money because Mr. Campbell had borrowed it. An uncle sent her $150 and she told her sister she was working on the Sunday she died to make the rest of the cost of the plane ticket.