A 15-year-old girl was, on Monday, remanded into the custody of the Juvenile Holding Center for setting fire to the female dormitory at Mahdia Secondary School, which left 19 children dead.
The teen appeared via Zoom before Magistrate Sunil Scare at Diamond Magistrates’ Court and was not required to plead to the 19 counts of murder.
It is alleged that during the course or furtherance of arson committed on May 21, she murdered Tracil Thomas, Lisa Roberts, Delecia Edwards, Lorita Williams, Natalie Bellarmine, Arriana Edwards, Cleoma Simon, Subrina John, Martha Dandrade, Loreen Evans, Belnisa Evans, Mary Dandrade, Omerfia Edwin, Nickleen Robinson, Sherena Daniels, Eulander Carter, Andrea Roberts, Bibi Jeffrey and Adanye Jerome.
The teen will be held at a Sophia juvenile facility and the matter was adjourned until July 4, 2023.
The Guyana Chronicle had previously reported that the police disclosed that the teen was identified as a suspect after investigators were told that she set the fire after her cellular phone was taken away by the dorm mother and a teacher.
At the time of the fire, there were 57 female students in the dormitory, a one-flat concrete building measuring about 100 feet by 40 feet, with several windows, all grilled, and five doors.
According to the reports reaching this publication, fire/smoke was first spotted in the bathroom area. Unfortunately, it quickly engulfed the entire building, trapping many of the students and a five-year-old boy. Several of the students managed to escape with minor burns and injuries.
Those who were pulled from the burning building were rushed to the Mahdia District Hospital where five of them were pronounced dead. After the fire was extinguished, 14 burnt bodies were found.
Samples which were sent to the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York for DNA analyses, confirmed the identification of the dead children.
Last week, Government Pathologist Dr Nehaul Singh performed post-mortem examinations with dissections on six of the bodies: Nicholeen Robinson, Shorlin Bellarmine, Eulanda Carter, Subrina John, Martha D’ Andrade and Adonijah Jerome, at the Mahdia District Hospital’s mortuary and the cause of death for each of them was given as smoke inhalation and burns.
A total of 29 female students were injured and were promptly assessed and treated. Several were air-dashed to Georgetown for further medical attention.
On Saturday, a 13-year-old girl, who was one of the two listed as critically injured, was transported to New York for urgent specialised care. Several of the students were interviewed in the presence of a probation officer, and statements were taken.