A 39-year-old man remains behind bars under arrest today, on suspicion of murdering Chavelle Dillon-Burgess, who has yet to be found several weeks after police and volunteers started searching for her – weeks after her disappearance.
In what looks set to be a precedent setting investigation that could lead to a murder trial with no body as evidence, Police Commissioner Stephen Corbishley made the announcement on what he termed “significant progress”.
Speaking at a news conference on Saturday, the Commissioner also stated that it was not necessary for police to find a missing person to investigate a case of murder.
But he said: “It was not the news that I want to announce to the media because our focus throughout this investigation has been to find Chavelle safe and well and bring her back to her family.
“Sadly though, the investigation has indicated that the high likelihood that Chavelle has come to the most gravest of harm and last night (Friday) we took the decision to arrest the male on suspicion of her murder.”
The Commissioner noted that the police have spoken with Chavelle’s family.
A Family Liasion Officer is working with them “each and every day on what we could only imagine of the upset and the stress they are facing”, he said.
“But let me be clear, we are still searching for Chavelle. The person in custody we believe has knowledge of that and that’s why we’re taking the next step,” he said.
I’m extremely appreciative to the information that’s been provided by our community because we have all worked together to try and find out what’s taking place.
And beyond the family I know that there will be many, many people that are extremely upset to this news and the announcement today.
The investigation is still at an early stage – we need to establish facts..
He also noted that he spoke with the Minister of National Security, Wayne Caines on Saturday morning,who is “extremely concerned” about this matter.
“We both agree there are things that we need to look at beyond just this investigation and whilst it’s too early to talk about it at this stage – I’m referring to aspects of domestic abuse and how we work collectively across partners and as a community to deal with such matters and to make sure that people that are vulnerable, people that are at risk of domestic abuse have opportunities to get help and to protect them because some of those victims often don’t realise the danger that they are in.
“But that’s a matter for the future, where we are now is in the midst of an investigation to find Chavelle and obviously, as I have expressed, there is sadness about what believe has happened to her.
Detective Sergeant Jason Smith said: “It is with a heavy heart that the Bermuda Police Service declare that the disappearance of Ms Chavelle Dillon-Burgess is being treated as a suspected case of murder.”
The lead suspect was arrested overnight overnight on Friday and was taken into custody on suspicion of murder of the young mother of his 18-month-old baby boy, who had “probably come to the gravest of harm”.
“The public will know that since she was reported missing we have been searching for, and investigating the circumstances of her disappearance.
“We remain committed to finding Chavelle, and we urge the public to look for anything suspicious while out on their daily movements. Our search for her continues in a methodical manner and we will continue looking for her.
“We are working with forensic specialists and partner agencies to find justice in this matter.
“The Serious Crime Unit asks anyone with information on what happened to Chavelle Burgess to please make contact if you have not already done so.
“The BPS is greatly appreciative of all the help given to us and the family of Ms. Burgess in trying to find her so far. Please do not give up in your efforts.”
Ms Dillon-Burgess was officially reported as missing by her mother on April 30, but she has not been seen by family or friends since April 11, about two weeks before her 27th birthday.
Meanwhile, police are working with forensic specialists and partner agencies both locally and abroad.
“We’re receiving excellent support from police forces overseas that have investigated such matters where the victim has not been located.
“Domestic abuse is everybody’s business,” he added.
“And it concerns me sometimes that perhaps we’re not as assertive or direct in addressing the way in which some relationships take place, and about protecting people.
“Sometimes when events such as this take place, it’s an opportunity to learn more than it’s an opportunity to blame.”
While noting that he could not discuss what, if any, connection existed between Ms Dillon-Burgess and the man arrested, he said it was still too early to say if formal charges are likely to be laid.
He also stated that he believes there are people in this community who know what happened to her.
“Maybe not directly, but they certainly know more than the police know,” said Mr Corbishley, who also stated that fear had stopped some people from coming forward.
He urged them to contact police.
“I’m not asking on behalf of the BPS, I’m asking on behalf of Chavelle’s family.”
Volunteers were out searching for Chavelle again this weekend at various locations around the island.
Anyone with information that may assist is urged to contact Senior Investigating Officer with the Serious Crime Unit, Detective Sergeant Jason Smith on 717-0864, or the police call centre on 211, or Crime Stoppers on 800-8477.”
- Top Feature Photo Courtesy of TNN