Sunday, January 12, 2014

Jamaica: Murder Investigation of Canadian Expat, 53, Moving All Too Slowly

According to The Toronto Sun, the progress of the investigation into the blunt-force homicide of Canadian Shirley Lewis-McFarland, 53, has been moving far too slowly, an island-nation where the US Department of State has classified the country’s criminal threat as “Critical” for decades.

“Critical” threat is the highest level on the Department’s four-tier descending threat system of “Critical, High, Medium and Low.”

Additionally, when I accessed the online website of Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAIT) for Jamaica, only the following statement was revealed: “There is no nationwide advisory in effect for Jamaica. However, you should exercise a high degree of caution due to the high level of violent crime.” 

Even DFAIT’s brief warning on the risk level in Jamaica should be interpreted as a strong clue that the security risks in the country are extraordinary:

The body of Ms. Lewis-McFarland was found inside her rented home on December 30, just a month after she moved into a rental in St. Ann Parish.

COMMENT: Inasmuch as THE SUN has not revealed any photos of the rented home in which Ms. Lewis-McFarland lived, it is difficult to assess the home’s overall physical security against intruders. Additionally, Jamaican police reportedly have few leads or suspects.

Unfortunately, police have not revealed the results of any crime-scene evidence they may have collected, statements taken or even released a list of possible suspects that may or may not have been interviewed.

One very loose end in the investigation is Lewis-McFarland’s marriage to Jamaican national Carl McFarland, age unknown, in 2001:

Is Carl McFarland still alive?

If so, where is he and has he been interviewed by police?

Was the couple estranged or were they still living together?

Another bizarre development is that in a Facebook page

According to THE JAMAICA STAR, it is unknown as to whether any of Ms. Lewis-McFarland’s children had visited their Mom in their rented home after she moved to the tourist hub called Discovery Bay.

One peculiarity in Ms. Lewis-McFarland’s death is the fact that a photo of Lewis-McFarlane posted on a memorial Facebook page depicts her hair braided in beaded corn-rows. Half of the beads are the Rastafarian colors, the other half red and white.

Considering that Lewis-McFarland was from a white, upscale neighborhood in a Toronto suburb, when did she become a follower of the Rastafari “Way of Life,” an African-based spiritual ideology that arose in Jamaica in the 1930s?

Although Rastafari corn-rows may have no bearing on Ms. Lewis-McFarland's death, such information being pursued could rule in or out a viable lead.

Jamaican police apparently have reported that it is too early to identify a motive in the murder of Ms. Lewis-McFarlane found beaten and dead just one month after she moved to Discovery Bay, a tropical tourist hub on the island’s north shore.

Too early to identify a motive? Ms. Lewis-McFarland was murdered nearly two weeks ago, yet police have no motive, even after conducting a crime-scene search and having the results of the autopsy?

For a country that depends on tourism for its livelihood, it appears that finding Ms. Lewis-McFarland’s murderer is a low priority.

Properly collected, there should be more than sufficient physical evidence to conduct DNA analysis and determine the gender, racial ethnicity and other pertinent data on the victim’s assailant.

Authorities have said they have a male “person of interest” in custody. Yet, being a Commonwealth country, if the person has been arrested, who is he? Nevertheless, Jamaican police say the man is NOT a suspect.

The one police official who has been mentioned in media reports is St. Ann Superintendent of Police Yvonne Martin Daley, yet the superintendent has seemingly revealed no information to Lewis-McFarland’s adult children in terms of motive or suspects in the case.

At the moment, Lewis-McFarland was murdered thirteen days ago, yet Jamaican police have said very little other than the fact that Lewis-McFarland died of blunt-force trauma to her face and asphyxiation. The bones in her hands were also broken, suggesting possible torture prior to her death.

Lewis-McFarlane’s family, including her three adult children, have started an online fundraiser entitled, in an effort to raise $10,000 for a funeral and headstone back home in Canada. Once her body is flown back from Jamaica they plan to bury their mother in an Aurora plot between their late grandmother and uncle. Thus far, the family has collected $700.

Lewis-McFarlane had been traveling back and forth to Jamaica for nearly 14 years, before deciding to permanently settle down in Discovery Bay, a beachside town at the foot of Jamaica’s Dry Harbor mountain range.

For the interest of our readers, many long-term medical treatment and medical evacuation programs for expats living six months or longer in a country they were not born in can often include repatriation of human remains in the event they die while abroad. For information, please go to

As a matter of interest, and in keeping with my goal in providing our readers as much useful information as possible, given the extraordinary security risks in Jamaica, I strongly urge anyone living abroad in a country in which they are not native subscribe to international medical treatment and medical evacuation coverage (including medical repatriation of human remains) before leaving home, as one can never know what calamities they may confront.

If any of our readers are considering traveling to Jamaica, I recommend they do two things:

1. Stay at an “all-inclusive” resort; and

2. Go to the search box and type in, “Crime in Jamaica.”