Tuesday, 15 May 2012 02:30
By Alex Holder
Antigua St John's - More than a year after Pares School student Alisha Bastian disappeared, her mother, Denise Barnes, has not given up the search.
She has called for a reaffirmed commitment from law enforcement officials and the public to help find her daughter, last seen on February 15, 2011.
Bastian was 19 when she disappeared. Barnes told Caribarena.com she will not give up the search until her daughter tells her she is safe.
“I know she is old enough, but I am concerned," she said. "I am her mother. Since she left, I never heard from her…”
The Parham woman said her daughter met a deportee from the United States in September 2010, and subsequently became rebellious and distant. She suspects he was involved in the disappearance.
Barnes noted that after meeting this man, her daughter almost immediately quit school to spend time with him. The mother suspected he was in a local gang and up to no good. The two were reportedly found sleeping in empty lots and garages in the months before her disappearance.
“I would send her to school and she wouldn’t go," Barnes said. "Sometimes she would be in Bendals with the man sleeping under people’s house and in their garage.
"After school opened in September (2011) she never went back. She met him and maybe went to school once or twice and never went back.”
The mother recalled that in February 2011, the month she last saw her daughter, she was confronted with the news that the young woman was pregnant a fact she said she had long been aware of.
She said her daughter was supposedly forced by her boyfriend to ask for money to either get a doctor’s checkup or have an abortion, but Barnes refused to give her any.
“I could have looked at her and see she was pregnant,” the mother said.
She said her daughter and her boyfriend had said they would be heading to the city, and to guarantee their return, she asked for a Brownie bun, butter, and cheese.
The boyfriend returned with the requested snack four hours later, and quickly left again. She never saw her daughter again.
She said her daughter never took her passport, so the odds of her being out of Antigua are slim at best.
She added, “Sometimes I can’t sleep at night because I wonder where my daughter is. He (the boyfriend) took my daughter from my home. Her and me were never in any disagreements, quarreling or anything like that. I don't know what he did. It’s been over a year and I want my heart to be free.”
Barnes is extremely disappointed with the way the police have handled the situation.
She noted that it was not until she contacted Police Commissioner Vere Brown that an investigation began.
“The police are not helping me,” the mother said. “I told CID to go back to the (boyfriend’s) father and let him ask his son what he did with my daughter. If he knows he killed and buried her, tell me so I can get my heart cleared. If I saw her right now and she says she is not coming home then I will leave her to go free.”
As for Martin, she said, “He never lets me talk to her. He just says to call back at this time and that time. He has me like a fool. Sometimes I can’t sleep at night because I wonder where my daughter is. Her and me were never in any disagreements, quarreling, or anything like that. I don't know what he did. It’s been over a year and I want my heart to be free.”
Caribarena.com questioned residents in Parham near Barnes' home, and they recounted an episode in the summer of 2011, when authorities were called in to investigate the discovery of the decomposing body of a woman found in bushes not too far from Barnes’ home. The body was wrapped in sheets, and a positive identification was never made due to the level of decomposition.
However, police spokesman William Holder said based on archeologist reports, the body had been in that area for over a year and could not be Barnes' daughter. He said based on police information, the young woman is alive and well.
He said the police have all but closed the case, since the report of a missing person could not be corroborated.
“If there is a report of a missing person and police investigate and find out otherwise, they would close it because no evidence would be there to prove otherwise. Plus, she is not a minor, and she is at an age to make her own choices,” he said. He added that if the daughter does not want to go home, there is nothing the police can do about it, since she is of legal age.
The grieving mother now clings to her younger daughter, who was a patient at the Mount St John’s Medical Center after a recent accident.