Tue | Oct 22, 2019

‘It’s too late now’ - Family mourns matriarch’s death allegedly at hands of common-law husband

Published:Thursday | August 22, 2019 | 12:14 AMGareth Davis Sr/Gleaner Writer
The Buff Bay, Portland, house in which Maureen Johnson lived, which was set on fire after she was stabbed to death on Tuesday night.
The Buff Bay, Portland, house in which Maureen Johnson lived, which was set on fire after she was stabbed to death on Tuesday night.

Buff Bay, Portland:

A Portland family has been left heartbroken as what they said was a nearly two-decades-long abusive relationship ended in tragedy Tuesday night, leaving the matriarch dead, her common-law husband on the run, and other members of the family homeless.

Twenty-nine-year-old Germaine Campbell was a picture of grief yesterday, fighting back tears as he struggled to come to terms with the events that led to the death of his mother, 50-year-old Maureen Johnson, allegedly during a domestic dispute with her 52-year-old common-law husband at their Buff Bay home.

“I just can’t believe that he killed her,” said a forlorn Campbell.

“They have had several quarrels and other forms of disputes in the past, but last night’s act was shocking. My mother and stepfather have always been fighting ... ,” he added. “I knew they had issues. I expected something ugly to happen, but the last thing that I expected him to do was to kill my mother and burn down the house.”

Campbell said that on several previous occasions when the couple were having disputes, he had to intervene, even while he was a teenager. He said he was chopped during one attempt to intervene to settle one dispute.

Neighbours also said they had intervened numerous times to settle disputes between the couple over the years.

A dispute early Tuesday morning signalled that it would have been a trying day, and Johnson’s 22-year-old and 25-year-old daughters stepped in to calm tempers.

According to the police, Johnson was in the process of packing a bag to leave the home when she was reportedly attacked by her common-law husband and stabbed in the neck and upper body.

According to Campbell, she was about to go to the police station to make a report about threats she had been receiving.

couldn't save her

After she was stabbed, the house was set ablaze.

Campbell said he was alerted by a niece and rushed to his mother’s house to find her lying on the verandah, covered in blood, with fire raging from just about every section of the house.

“My sisters and I tried desperately to drag her away, but the fire was too much. I got burned on my back, and I had to just stand afar and watch while inhaling the odour from the burning flesh of my mother. I haven’t slept since last night, and to me, it is like a nightmare that will not go away any time soon,” he said yesterday.

everything lost

The murder and destruction of the home has left Johnson’s two daughters and four grandchildren homeless, with concerns about how they will recover for the start of the new school year as everything was lost in the blaze.

“Every single item of clothing, furniture, electrical appliance, money, school uniform, and other valuables were lost in the fire ... . She was really the breadwinner as she provides for them. It is going to be difficult getting our life back to what it was before,” he added.

“It is really going to be a long time before I accept this. If only she had listened to me and walk away from this abuse. It’s too late now. She’s gone,” Campbell said, pointing out that he had urged his mother to turn her back on the relationship several times

A preliminary report from firefighters who responded to the blaze suggests that Johnson was not killed in the fire. Nor did she die as a result of smoke inhalation.

The police have confirmed that she was stabbed twice and that there might be other wounds to the body, which was burned beyond recognition.

Johnson’s common-law husband, a security guard, is being sought by the police.

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