SPANISH TOWN, Jamaica — A mother and daughter were beheaded Wednesday by attackers who invaded their home in a gritty area outside Jamaica’s capital, near where a wanted 18-year-old gang member was found with his head chopped off earlier this week.
Police said the grisly slayings occurred on the outskirts of Spanish Town, a southern city where violent gangs are deeply entrenched and gunmen have been battling not only authorities but each other over extortion and drug rackets.
The decapitated bodies of Charmaine Rattray and her 19-year-old daughter, Joyette Lynch, were found on a bed inside their home, investigators said. Their heads were not found.
On Monday, 18-year-old Scott Thomas, a reputed member of the Clansman gang named by police as a suspect in several killings, was beheaded in his Spanish Town home by a group of men armed with guns and machetes. A relative was unharmed.
To avenge a death, Jamaican gangs sometimes will murder someone who merely lives in a neighborhood controlled by perceived enemies, and not specifically target a member of a rival gang.
Some residents in the crime-ridden area fled their homes after Wednesday’s slayings of the two women, fearing for their lives.
Authorities said the killings appeared to be related to a power struggle within the Clansman, which has been at war for years with the One Order gang.
Over the past year, the Jamaican government’s energetic offensive against Spanish Town gangs has created power vacuums within the gangs.
Chan Tesha Miller, the 31-year-old reputed leader of the Clansman, was convicted in April of robbery, assault and weapons possession and sentenced to 15 years in prison. His arrest set off protests in Spanish Town, where the gang has long had a powerful presence.
This week’s beheadings shocked even those used to violent crime.
Rosemarie Green, who founded the group Spanish Town Citizens Against Gun Violence when her brother was killed about seven years ago, said she was deeply disturbed by the decapitations.
“I’ve never heard of beheadings here before. It’s a weird thing. I’m very concerned about it,” Green said Wednesday from Spanish Town.