Murder victim Withrite to be laid to rest Friday

POSTED: 05/10/12 4:08 PM

St. Maarten/by Torana Bryan-Granston – The victim of the April 22 murder-suicide incident Cheryl Withrite, is expected to be laid to rest tomorrow at the Cul-de-Sac cemetery following a small funeral service at the Emerald Funeral Home from 09:00 am. On Wednesday family members of the murdered woman who died at the hand of paramour Cleon Bourne began arriving on the island. Bourne’s lone son, whom she raised as a child, also entered the country to pay his last respects to the “hardworking woman who called him her own.”  Along with family members, friends and colleagues of the former Burger King supervisor are busy seeking assistance to ensure that the woman who was described as “very quiet person” gets a proper sendoff.

Withrite, originally from Plantain Walk, Vreed-en-Hoop in Guyana and was a permanent resident of the island. She lived with Bourne for over a decade at their Illidge Road home. She seldom socialized, spending most of her time at work. With eighteen years of service to the fast food chain, Withrite worked her way up the ladder to be voted employee of the year on four consecutive occasions. She grew up with her aunt and at 52 years of age, the woman was childless. “We wanted to send her home (Guyana) but could not afford it,” one of the woman’s few family members said. Checks at her home to recover valuable items that could offset expenses also proved futile. “All her jewelry, clothes and valuables were gone. We don’t know who took them.”

Mark Daniels had been friends with the couple for the past 13 years. He said that contrary to media reports, those around the couple never had any indication that it was an abusive relationship, but in the week leading up to the incident, Withrite complained daily of Tall Boy (Bourne) stressing her out. She wasn’t comfortable but she was never saying if he kicked her or beat her.” Daniels was the one who led the police to make the gruesome discovery that fateful Sunday morning. He recounted the tragic incident.

“My spouse works as the manager of Burger King Bush Road but on the day in question she was off.  She received a call from one of the workers about 7:00 am who said that Cheryl did not show up to work or call. So we decided to go to the restaurant first, sort out the operations and then go to their home. Along the way we said when you see Cheryl aint show up to work Tall boy done her something serious.”

Daniels said that upon arriving at the slain woman’s place of work, one of employees was already in tears. “She kept saying I am afraid.” Earlier that morning she had called the woman’s cellular phone and was told by Bourne that she could not come to the phone, she would not be working today! “When he was called back Tall Boy just said Cheryl cannot come to work today, I’m sorry, I’m sorry and started to cry. We asked him if he wanted us to come at their home and he say yes,” Daniels recounted.

When the woman’s friends arrived at her home, the first person they met was the landlord who was in the yard.  “I asked him if he saw either the man or woman for this apartment. He said that they were in a fight and throwing plates around 5:30 am. He decided to make sounds with the bolt of the grill gate until they quiet down. After that he went back to his apartment.”

Daniels painfully reflected on how he knocked on the couple’s apartment door repeatedly calling them by name, but received no response. He finally decided to summon the police and on his way heading to the Philipsburg police station he encountered a police patrol in the vicinity of Sunny Foods supermarket. They agreed to accompany him back to the home. “They kept announcing that they would break open the door if no one answers but no one did. After we got a crow bar and began to rip the hinges, we heard a loud bang as if someone dropped through the window of the back of the apartment. I ran down the stairs, one of the police followed me and when I look over the fence, I confirmed that it was Tall Boy who jump through the window and fall to the ground on a cut-off tree stump.” Tall Boy’s side had been punctured and his intestines were protruding.

After the ambulance was called, the police continued to remove the apartment door where they found Withrite with several stab wounds to her body. The Saturday prior to the killing was supposed to have been the day when Bourne should have left for Guyana. “She bought a ticket for Tall boy to go to Guyana the Saturday, but he postponed the flight. But when she asked him why, Cheryl said that Tall Boy made an excuse saying that he got business to take care of.” Bourne promised to leave the following Wednesday saying that he needed to file his taxes.

Daniels revealed that there had been a growing sense of uneasiness around Withrite’s workplace. “Every day for that week he was in and out, checking at Burger King. She told us on Friday that she thought he was losing his mind because one of the workers observed him pointing his fingers towards the toilet door and shooting like pow-pow.” Bourne had been unemployed from the start of the year, although he was a permanent resident. Although he has a few family members on the island, no one has stepped forward to claim his body which remains at the morgue. He was originally from La Grange, West Bank Demerara.

In the meantime, Withrite’s friends will continue to plan for her final homegoing. A wake will be held tonight at the Caribe Lumber Ballpark near Cost-U-Less from 07:30 pm.  June 14, 2012 would have made her 53rd birthday.

Anyone wishing to assist with the funeral expenses can visit Burger King on Bush Road, where one of her former colleagues would provide more information.

“On the day of the murder, I saw a woman cleaning the apartment around 12:30 pm after I returned from making an official statement at the police station. She said the landlord told her to clean it because the police said it was okay to remove the blood and foul odor. Now everything is miraculously gone. We are all that Cheryl has left now. We need all the help we can get,” Daniels appealed.

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