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Jun 10, 1999

Three murders could be connected

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As the police forensics unit deliberate over the decision to exhume the remains of Sherilee Nicholas, the Special Unit of the Criminal Investigation Branch is working hard to solve the most baffling series of murders they have ever come across. Since October of 1998 two primary school girls were brutally murdered while a third remains missing but is feared dead. The discovery this weekend of the remains of a child, yet to be identified, and a schoolbag and a uniform belonging to Sherilee Nicholas whose body was found and buried in October have now created the concern that a mistake may have been made in the identification of Nicholas’s body. Or that there was some connection between the victims that caused them–or someone else–to switch their clothes and personal effects. To see if the three cases are related News Five decided to look at what we know so far.

Jacqueline Woods, Reporting

The students, thirteen year old Sherilee Nicholas, twelve year old Jackie Malic and nine year old Jay Blades all went to different schools, but they shared many things in common. All came from homes in which there was no father–Jackie Malic’s dad died a year before she did–and each disappeared when they should have been at school. Only Jay Blades had ever run away before, but all three had been reported missing from school at some point although no one seemed to know where they went or whom they were with. Jay Blades was the first to make headlines when she was reported missing on July 20th. She returned home safe and sound but disappeared again for four days from the 25th to the 29th of September. She told her classmates and teacher that she had been abducted, but no one believed her since it seems she was known to tell stories. Her teachers report however that in September she became very withdrawn and even sucked her thumb in class. By coincidence, September is also the time that 13 year old Sherilee Nicholas disappeared. She was reported missing on the 8th of that month. Exactly 30 days later on October 8th off a feeder road near mile 8 on the Western Highway the body of a young girl was found. She had been brutalized beyond belief, stabbed numerous times and sexually assaulted. Jay Blades had disappeared the very day before the gruesome discovery so police called in the mothers of both Jay and Sherilee to help with the identification. And this is where the case took a strange turn: although Sherilee’s mom June Gabourel was convinced from marks on the body that the corpse was her daughter, Jay’s mom Sharine Garbutt was relieved to find the body was not that of her child. But she makes the startling discovery that the dress on the corpse was the same green and black dress her daughter had been wearing the day she disappeared! The police accepted the identification as that of Sherilee and the body was buried as Sherilee. Weeks later, just before Mitch students from St. Luke Methodist claimed to have seen Jay Blades alive near Central American Boulevard. Nothing was heard about her again until March of this year when another report was made to police that she was staying at a house on Faber’s Road. This could not be verified. But while the search continued for Jay, March also brought another disappearance and another terrible discovery. On March 22nd, 12 year old Jackie Fern Malic, a student from St. Ignatius vanished. A man who had offered Jackie and her sister a ride that morning, 40-year-old Michael Williams was brought in for questioning. Two days later, on March 24th Jackie’s body was found off a feeder Road at mile 8, also on the Western Highway. Williams was charged with her murder several days later and remains in custody. No killings or disappearances of young women have been reported since. That is until June 6th when human bones were found, again off a feeder road on the Western Highway this time at mile 3 and a half. While the public may have jumped to the conclusion that this was missing Jay Blades, once again there was a confusing turn when Sherilee Nicholas’s school bag, uniform and other items were discovered at the scene. Although the condition of the skull and bones has made it impossible to positively identify them as the remains of Jay Blades and they are being sent to the FBI in the US for testing, the discovery of Sherilee’s things has led police to contemplate exhuming the body in Sherilee’s grave. Her mother June who thought all of her pain was behind her is distraught and doesn’t want an exhumation. She is convinced that the fisheye on the corpse’s foot, a clear patch on her knee and other markings proved the body she buried was her daughter’s. She asserts that there is a connection between the deaths and that the killer deliberately switched the girl’s belongings to mislead the police. Even more startling she says that the man arrested for Jackie Malic’s death knew Sherilee, had taken the family on automobile rides and on at least one occasion that she knows of, he offered Sherilee a ride alone.

Dr. Mario Estradabran says no date has been set for the exhumation and that they do not need the mother’s permission for the procedure. The remains found on June 6th are being prepared for shipment to the FBI in Washington DC. At this time it is not clear if Michael Williams will be brought in for questioning in connection with the new findings.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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