Number 898 • Friday, January 13, 2012

CoP Says No Cover Up in Death of U.S. Citizen
By L.K. Hewlett
Rawlins Plantation Hotel owner Kevin Horstwood has been charged with Matthew Murphy's murder.
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Commissioner of Police CG Walwyn denies that there was any attempt on his part to cover up the recent murder of a US citizen in St. Kitts.

The Commissioner was at the time responding to public and media claims that he was attempting to hide the fact that an American had been murdered in St. Kitts when he asked media houses not to publish the victim’s nationality.

The body of Matthew Murphy was discovered in a cane field near Belmont Estate and Rawlins Plantation on December 30, 2011. The body bore stab wounds to the torso and police surmised that Murphy had been killed sometime between December 28-30. Murphy had been living in Dieppe Bay for at least 10 months and was employed at Rawlins Plantation Hotel, police informed. UK national Kevin Horstwood, the owner of the hotel, was subsequently arrested and charged with Murphy’s murder.

CoP Walwyn explained that when he had asked the media not to publish Murphy’s nationality, it had not yet been determined that the murder victim was an American.

“I asked them not to release that the victim was an American for several reasons. I was concerned for those parents overseas seeing these reports and knowing that their children were in St. Kitts and wondering if their child had been killed. Also until we could verify the identity and nationality of the victim, we did not want that put out there because at the time we did not have a passport or any identification to show which country the person was from,” he told The Observer. “There was no cover up.”

The Commissioner said the police had been in direct contact with the US Embassy in Barbados and they had advised police not to release such information until they were sure of the nationality.

“They themselves wanted to be sure it was an American before we said it was an American,” he said. “We had nothing to prove at that point.”

He said it was only later that day that he received a call from concerned parents asking if the victim was possibly their son. After receiving a photo via email, police were then able to make a positive identification of the victim and inform his family of his passing, the Commissioner said.

“That is when we released that it was an American who had been killed and notified the American Embassy,” he stated.

Commissioner Walwyn questioned the motives of some media houses’ eagerness to publish that an American had been murdered in St. Kitts. He said that recently a well-known local business woman had been attacked and robbed in Miami yet there were no media reports generated in that country to say a Kittitian had been the victim of a crime.

“It doesn’t matter where the person is from; it’s a victim. We need to stop nationalizing crime,” Commissioner Walwyn said.

Murphy’s relatives flew to St. Kitts to claim his body last week. The decedent’s brother, Frank Murphy wrote to this media house thanking the Commissioner and entire Police Force for the way they conducted the investigation into his brother’s death.

“On behalf of my family, brother, sisters and most especially our parents, I would like to publicly acknowledge the entire Royal Saint Christopher and Nevis Police Force for the support, kindness and dedication to duty exhibited during the investigation concerning the death of my brother Matthew Murphy at the Rawlins Plantation last week.

“Most important is to single out Commissioner CG Walwyn, Inspector Charles Smithen and their team for following the evidence where it led, finally culminating in the arrest of a prominent and well known person. While this has been a heartbreaking tragedy for my family, I want to express our hope that the people of Saint Kitts and Nevis use this as proof that the RSCNPF holds the law as sacred and believes the law protects the least among us as well as the privileged. The bravery and dedication of the RSCNPF needs to be recognized and celebrated,” the letter stated.

He implored the citizens of the Federation to support the “tireless work of these fine, dedicated professionals” and ask them to put their faith and trust in the Police Force as his family had.

“We believe you will be rewarded a thousand-fold with safer streets, a better quality of life and a bright future. What they have done on behalf of my brother Matthew and my family is a reflection of their dedication to the welfare of every citizen on Saint Kitts and Nevis.”