Connect with us

News

Commissioner of Police Responds to Media Reports on Marie Kuhnla Inquest

Published

on

#TurksandCaicos, June 15, 2022 – “At the outset, the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands were shocked and saddened that Mrs. Kuhnla, a wife, mother and attorney for vulnerable people came here for her holidays but did not return home. The Jury at her Inquest have returned a verdict of homicide by manual strangulation.  This Inquest spanned seven days of evidence and the Jury deliberated for more than seven hours, over two days and everyone involved in this case, Mrs. Kuhnla’s loved ones, and the general public owe them a great debt for their service and dedication to their task.

“Unfortunately, there has been much inaccuracy and untrue sensationalism reported in the media, particularly in other jurisdictions in regards to this inquest.  It would not have been appropriate for public officials, like His Excellency, Governor Nigel Dakin, the Honourable Attorney General, Rhondalee Braithwaite-Knowles QC and myself to comment on the many erroneous and misleading facts published in the international press while the matter was before HM Coroner Jolyon Hatmin and the Jury, who were tasked to return a verdict on how Mrs. Kuhnla passed.

In the Turks and Caicos Islands, as in the United Kingdom, commenting on proceedings that are before the Court is not permitted as it can prejudice those proceedings.  However, it is now fair to comment, as those proceedings are at an end and it is appropriate to do so.

“One inaccuracy repeatedly reported is that this inquest is a “review” of a previous finding.  That is simply not the case.  This is the first and only inquest into the death of Mrs. Kuhnla.  After the Ministry of Health Pathologist, Dr. Michael Robert Steckbauer determined that the cause of death was “manual strangulation” on the 25th of October 2018, a murder investigation was immediately launched by senior members of the R&TCIPF.  In the Turks and Caicos Islands, as in the United Kingdom, it is customary and best practice for an inquest to be held either at the conclusion of a murder investigation, or where an investigation has exhausted all the avenues of inquiry or any related criminal court proceedings have concluded.  Otherwise, any police investigation or a fair criminal trial is in danger of being compromised by a premature inquest, thereby potentially denying justice for the deceased and their loved ones.  In the wake of the gradual lifting of restrictions surrounding protective measures to combat the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, jury trials resumed in earnest in the Turks and Caicos Islands in March this year and this inquest was scheduled almost immediately thereafter.

“The Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force have always maintained an open mind as to the circumstances of the passing of Mrs. Kuhnla and given the views of the pathologist, a murder investigation was initiated and pursued with vigor.

Forensic analysis of evidence was sought and biological samples, were analyzed by an independent American forensic analysis laboratory.  Statements were taken from tens of potential witnesses, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation were used as a liaison and cross jurisdiction Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty provisions were utilized to assist in the investigation, two sets of interviews were conducted in the United States with potential witnesses and officers travelled to the US to communicate with the family of Mrs. Kuhnla.

“The Jury heard evidence that Mrs. Kuhnla arrived in the Turks and Caicos Islands on 10th of October, 2018 with her friends for a week-long holiday in a local resort.  Immediately, her friends were concerned that another guest had attached himself to her and was plying her with large amounts of alcohol.

Evidence suggests that this man was a nuisance, her friends did not like this man and one accused him of indecent assault as he had touched her posterior in the resort pool. The same friend gave evidence that she had never seen Mrs. Kuhnla intoxicated before this holiday and was surprised that she was uncharacteristically inebriated at times, this was corroborated by other guests.

“The Coroner and Jury further heard evidence that Mrs. Kuhnla was not usually a drinker as she suffered from a seizure disorder and other medical conditions.  Indeed, her toxicology analysis post mortem revealed that were prescription drugs in her blood prescribed for that seizure disorder, bi-polar disorder, depression and insomnia.  The Inquest heard evidence from her friends that she had suffered a number of falls during her holiday that they had once again attributed to her uncharacteristic drinking.  One of her friends remarked to the RTCIPF that she had bruising on her leg the last day she had seen her on the 14th of October, 2018.  Another guest who met Mrs. Kuhnla close on his arrival at 2:30 pm, again on the 14th of October, 2018 gave evidence that she was “very slurred in her speech ‘and it was “indiscernible” what she was trying to say.

“The Coroner and Jury heard that her friends last saw Mrs. Kuhnla on the evening of the 14th of October, 2018 at around 7 pm.  On the 15th of October, by the afternoon, her friends became very concerned that they had not seen her since the night before.  They began to search the resort as they feared that she was unconscious on the property due to her seizure disorder and the fact that she had been, again unusually for her, drinking heavily.  The RT&CIPF were alerted and arrived at about 7 pm that evening due to those concerns, they examined her room and the room of the acquaintance so disliked by her friends, but nothing was out of place and they left.  She had been missing less than 24 hours at that time.  Early on the 16th of October, 2018, one of Mrs. Kuhnla’ s travel companions and a fellow guest discovered her body in the bush near the resort’s soccer pitch.

“As Dr. Steckbauer reported, she was found in bush with her face in a downward position, with debris in her mouth, upper airway, her clothing was askew, and the back of her blouse/beach wrap torn.  He conducted the autopsy on the 19th of October, but as he attested, he was unable to ascertain all of the elements that could be associated with manual strangulation as the body was more decomposed than would have provided for an optimum autopsy.  In his report dated the 28th of October, 2018, Dr. Steckbauer concluded that due to hemorrhaging of the strap muscles, dirt and debris in the mouth, bruises on the legs, abrasions of the legs and arms, a fractured rib, the manner in which she was found, her torn clothing and the crime scene photos, that Mrs. Kuhnla had died by manual strangulation.

“During the course of the inquest, he did concede that he did not have knowledge of her seizure disorder, the medications found in her toxicology, her uncharacteristic drinking and her falls earlier in the week when he came to that conclusion however, when questioned he asserted that now knowing these factors, none of them would change his finding.

“This statement cannot deal with all the inaccuracies and unsubstantiated comments made in relation to the sensationalist reporting of these proceedings, it could fill pages and pages. The people of the Turks and Caicos Islands do not deserve the slant quite bluntly stated in the reporting of this matter.  It has been alleged in the American media that the justice system of in these Islands would conspire with a tourist resort to cover up the alleged sexual assault and murder of an innocent woman to prevent adverse publicity.  This is as preposterous as it is insulting and offensive.

The motivation for such a contention may be considered in future proceedings and will not be commented on here, all that will be said for now is that this Coroner and Jury have demonstrated through their hard work, attention and consideration in hearing this Inquest and reaching their verdict, that prejudicial innuendo cannot replace facts.

“Mrs. Khulna’s death was investigated by an experienced detective, Assistant Superintendent Williams, a senior officer in CID in the RT&CIPF of some 27 years’ experience. The role of the investigator is a ‘search for the truth and this is achieved by maintaining an open mind as to the circumstances of a person’s death and how they came about their passing.  It was for this reason that ASP Williams offered potential alternatives as to how Mrs. Kuhnla met her death band these were explored during the Inquest for the jury to consider.   At the conclusion of the inquest, they decided that Mrs. Kuhnla was unlawfully killed and that judgement is accepted by the RTCIPF.

“Whilst no one has been charged in connection with the death of Mrs. Kuhnla, no investigation is ever closed and if any further lines of enquiry are identified, then they will be followed up vigorously.   As a matter of course, we will consider if any new information has come about as result of the inquest.

“The last three and half years must have been very difficult for the family of Mrs. Kuhnla and I am certain the last week during which time the Coronal inquest was held would have been hard to bare for the family and friends of Mrs. Kuhnla.

“As with any legal process, we must not forget the human side of this tragedy and I speak on behalf of the TCIG Government, the RTCIPF and the entire Turks and Caicos Islands when I pass on our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Mrs. Kuhnla.

News

Airports Authority aims for 24-hour airport and announces Scholarship programme

Published

on

Dana Malcolm 

Staff Writer

 

 

#TurksandCaicos, April 19, 2024 – In an attempt to move to 24-hour-a-day operations Turks and Caicos Islands Airports Authority (TCIAA) is steadily recruiting Air Traffic Controllers to work at the Providenciales/Howard Hamilton International Airport, according to Godfrey Smith, TCIAA CEO, reporting to the Appropriations Committee.

Speaking on April 8th Smith said a cabinet paper would be sent soon requesting six more Air Traffic Controllers to make round the clock operation at the Provo International possible and to open the airport in Grand Turk till 12 a.m.

Currently, 17 posts are filled and seven are vacant.

Smith was candid with his responses to recent industrial action from ATCs which led to resignations and firings.

“What we have to do is find systems to mitigate such actions and that has to start with filling these jobs, putting people in that want to work and doing right by people – and we always try to do right by our staff. Persons may not think that we are but we always do – we ain’t pick no fight,” he said in the meetings held at the NJS Francis building ahead of the National Budget Communication.

Smith indicated that recruitment was an issue across the board, ‘we need to find ways to recruit a little bit better’ he told the committee. Also in need of a push was capital spending or projects according to the CEO, who said the agency had ‘not been very good’ at meeting that mark but insisted they had recognized the issue and could do better.

A very important key performance indicator drawn up by the TCIAA is increasing passenger satisfaction at the Howard Hamilton International Airport. For the TCIAA part of this means a 30 percent increase in seating by Q2 of this year.

When queried on if they could even handle this increase the CEO said,

“The fact of the matter is we already have the capacity there. What we need is to make the service a bit better.”

Staff shortages have become such a frustrating issue that the TCIAA is instituting a scholarship program created by Authority Chairman, Selvyn Hawkins

“What the board wants to do is basically allocate $25,000 annually for a scholarship and they’ve approved it already.”

This process would cover tuition and all other costs for one student.

The student would return as a summer intern and other breaks to work at the TCIAA and upon graduation, assume a role at the company.

“We identify a particular skill we need, we go after it and we build capacity that is in a nutshell the nexus of the program,” Smith said.

The Turks and Caicos Islands Airports Authority (TCIAA) is allocated $49 million this financial year; over $20 million goes to salaries.

Continue Reading

News

Flow TCI offers Gigabyte Speeds to Customers

Published

on

Company delivers fastest speeds nationwide and boosts service reliability

 

PROVIDENCIALES, TURKS AND CAICOS, APRIL 19th, 2024 – More connections, faster speeds and greater support for customers. This is the promise from communications and entertainment provider, Flow TCI, as it embarks on an initiative to provide households with enhanced connections, greater overall reliability and now, for the first time, speeds up to one gigabit person second.

FLOW TCI Country Manager, Joanne Missick shared: “Our customers are at the heart of everything we do. We listen to our customers and want to exceed their demands, so we are focused on delivering unmatched value with customer centric products and services that are future proof. Flow subscribers on our Fibre Extreme package can now access up to one gigabyte speeds and subscribers on our Fibre Plus and Fibre Max package, as of April 1st, are also now benefitting from up to 5x more speeds.”

This is third speed boost for Flow customers in the last two years. This comes under the umbrella of the the Company’s recently launched “Working for You” campaign, where technicians are going into the neighborhoods across the island to conduct repairs, decommission copper cables, and increase the brand’s visibility in local communities.

“To date several neighborhoods have been served by technicians and the company will continue to go across the islands to ensure each neighborhood receives personal attention. We recognize that over the past few months some customers have experienced issues with the quality and delivery of our services. This is not what we stand for. Flow remains committed to providing technology and innovation that enables growth and positively impacts lives”, says, newly appointed Head of Technical Operations, Simeon Thomas.

Thomas adds, “We have been closely monitoring and reviewing every aspect of our network and there is room for improvement across each of the islands. Where we find shortcomings, we are taking concrete actions and assigning our technicians to rapidly make all necessary adjustments and improvements for our customers”.

Flow has made significant investments in expanding and modernizing its infrastructure and delivering a more robust and reliable network paving the way for the country’s digital transformation.

For more information on speed increases visit https://www2.discoverflow.co/turks-and-caicos/price-adjustment-speed-increase on our website.

Thank you for your usual assistance in sharing our stories.

Continue Reading

Government

Harold Charles, Appointed Member to the HOA, goes out with a Bang 

Published

on

Dana Malcolm 

Staff Writer 

 

 

#TurksandCaicos, April 19, 2024 – In an explosive, self-proclaimed, final budget speech to the people of the Turks and Caicos, Harold Charles, Governors Appointed Member is expressing frustration that many Turks and Caicos Islanders are locked out of top jobs in the country and unable to build wealth.

”I’ve been in this country for 50 years and I’ve noticed all those big developments that come in— the majority of [managers]are foreign people. After 50 years, when are we going to have Belongers manage those businesses?” Charles asked.  “I’m upset, I’m frustrated [this is] their home.  They have nowhere else to go—- If we don’t empower our Turks and Caicos Islanders we will never get out of living paycheck to paycheck.”

Charles echoed what thousands of locals have been saying for years about the failure of successive governments to get the economic success in the country on a level that residents can participate in it.  The member maintained that not only were many locals working for scraps overseas and at home, but that it was the prerogative of the government to create avenues for them to move upward.

”I know the government’s heart is in the right place but somehow we’re not getting it together.  I’m talking (about) both PDM and PNPs. It must change.  There are many islanders overseas taking crummy jobs when all this opportunity is in the Turks and Caicos Islands.”

Calling on the government to enforce laws which allow islanders to get a foothold in lucrative industries, Charles maintained that TCIG could not let investors come and do as they liked.

”We have all these big companies making millions.  They brag about how much they’re making, yet how much do they contribute to the development of our people?”

Charles encouraged the government to mandate that locals were hired in the large developments, taking place across the country.

Capital projects and their execution was another issue that the member highlighted

”Over the past three years in office, we seem to be dragging our feet when it comes to the execution of projects,” he said, “the last budget reflected bitter-sweet sentiment.”

The government managed to spend $29 million of a $57 million capital project budget in 2023/24 financial year.

“Mr. Speaker prior, we promised the people infrastructural investment, improved roads, ease with doing business with TCIG, more scholarships, increased home care, a $900,000 special needs school.”

The Appointed member was also frustrated with the amount of money being allocated to crucial areas including the absence of allocations for a special needs school.

”We were promised that no Turks and Caicos Islander would be left behind while I appreciate the government’s commitment to ensuring this. I am concerned that the relatively low level of funding allocated to education and infrastructure may hinder the effectiveness of effort,” The member stressed.

Closing his speech, Charles maintained that it was “crucial that the sectors receive additional support in order to provide citizens with the necessary resources and opportunities for their development.“

Mr. Speaker it is imperative that we allocate our resources adequately and streamline processes to enhance the ease of doing business with the Turks and Caicos Government. We must priortise increasing service delivery capacity in critical departments such as the customer service department, the register of records, the department of motor vehicles and the list goes on,” express Charles.

Charles reminded that there is a growing demand on the services TCIG provides, especially as the country enjoys unprecedented, year on year, exponential economic growth.

Charles alongside Jameka Williams (Government Appointed Member) Willin Belliard (Governor’s Appointed Member number one) and Alvin Garland (Opposition Appointed Member) will very likely be the last set of appointed members in the House of Assembly of the Turks and Caicos as it transitions to a wholly elected parliament.

Harold Charles indicated it was unlikely he would join any leadership race describing the 2024-2025 Budget contribution as likely his final.

Continue Reading

FIND US ON FACEBOOK

TRENDING