Friday, 06 January 2023 09:57

Family of slain US missionary coming to Jamaica hoping for justice

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After more than six years of delay, a United States family is hoping to get justice for their loved one who was among two US missionaries killed in St Mary.

"It's like ripping a wind that has ended - at least somewhat - wide open again," said Sarah Hentzel,  wife of then 48-year-old Randy Hentzel, who was viciously killed along with his colleague in 2016.

She was speaking with the American press this week.

The double murder grabbed international headlines and left several people, particularly those who benefited from the kindness of the Americans, devastated.

Following years of waiting for justice, the murder trial of the devoted volunteers is expected to start in the Home Circuit Court in downtown Kingston next week.

The accused men – Dwight Henry of Wentworth, and Andre Thomas of Port Maria, both in St Mary - are charged with the 2016 slaying of Hentzel and 53-year-old Harold Nichols.

Hentzel and Nichols of US outreach group TEAMS for Medical Missions, were found dead in bushes in Albion Mountain district, St Mary on Saturday, April 30, 2016 and Sunday, May 1, 2016, respectively.

Henry and Thomas were in their mid-20s at the time murder charges were laid against them.

Hentzel's widow spoke with KCCI Channel 8 News from her home in Iowa, United States on Wednesday, where she confirmed that she and other members of her family will be leaving for Jamaica on Saturday ahead of the trial next week.

Fundraising efforts are under way to assist the family with their travel expenses, the report said.

"Really we're going down there just to honour Randy and show them that we still remember, we still think it's important, and that we're still looking for justice," Sarah explained in the interview.

She lamented the extended delay to the start of the court proceedings in Jamaica, and the purported slow pace of the island's justice system.

According to Sarah, the accused men "originally confessed, and now they are saying their confessions were coerced, and (are) trying to get those thrown out."

Amid those developments, she described returning for the trial as like "ripping" a wound open again.

"We have to go relive it all (again)," said the grieving widow while expressing fears that the worst might happen, given the delay to the start of the trial.

"I am just relying on the fact that God is sovereign and justice will take place at some point," Sara indicated.

Hentzel was the father of five children, and reportedly formed a school for pastors.

The two missionaries were reportedly last seen alive when they left Tower Isle in St Mary on motorcycles at about 8am  on Saturday, April 30, 2016.

Residents later stumbled upon their bodies in bushes. Hentzel was found with his hands bound and face down, while Nichols’ body was found with his head bashed in.

Autopsies later concluded that Hentzel died of a gunshot wound, while Nichols had gunshot and chop wounds.

The case was transferred from the St Mary Circuit Court to the Home Circuit Court by Justice Sarah Thompson-James on April 3, 2017.

At the time, the men’s attorney argued during an application that the case should be transferred because of the high publicity of the case in the media and the likelihood of the men not having an opportunity for a fair trial in St Mary.