VICIOUS CYCLE: Alleged suicide victim’s toddler ward of the state

VICIOUS CYCLE: Alleged suicide victim’s toddler ward of the state
(FILE)

Police says due diligence was done on the case; charges brought against accused abuser

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The death of 25-year-old mother Carissa Culmer, who was once a ward of the state, has continued a vicious cycle as her own son remains in the custody of the state until further notice.

Minister of Social Services Obie Wilchcombe told Eyewitness News that the child is doing well, adding that those responsible for him have been providing lots of support.

“He is within the care of the state and will remain so until such time we have completed our due diligence on the members of the family who might be making a request for the child or even giving consideration to someone mentioned by the deceased [friend], so that process is continuing.”

Wilchcombe said there have been several inquiries for custody for the child from “members of the family”.

Asked about the child’s father who was reportedly on the scene after Culmer’s body was discovered, he noted, “Everything is an option, but we will have to do the due diligence in what we find to be the best approach to ensure his safety for now and the future”.

Founder of Family of All Murder Victims (FOAM) Khandi Gibson bemoaned the unfortunate loss of the young mother, who she had once taken into her own home. 

Gibson said one of the most unfortunate parts of the entire ordeal is how the young woman’s life in a children’s home could possibly repeat with her now two-year-old son.

Culmer was found hanging in a hotel room around 8pm on Thursday with her son found near her body. 

The young mother, an orphan who was previously unemployed and homeless, had found better footing in recent years but was being provided housing assistance by Social Services at the Landshark Cocoplum Resort on West Bay Street.

Police are still waiting for the final autopsy report to determine the cause of death.

The toddler was taken into the care of the state until an assessment of the toddler can be performed and next of kin verified.

Acting Commissioner of Police Clayton Fernander shot down claims that police failed the young woman who had called out for help from an abusive relationship multiple times.

He explained that police responded to two matters involving the woman, one which occurred last year when her significant other was charged, taken to court, and placed on probation for one year.

In the second matter, where she was assaulted again, the man was once again arrested and charged, but she decided to withdraw the matter in court, according to Fernander

“We as officers did our due diligence in doing our job and bringing that individual to court,” he said.

“We want to plead, once you come to the police and report a matter, we think the matter is serious and don’t wait for the last minute or second to report the matter.”

Fernander advised that the police will move forward to identify a unit to deal specifically with domestic violence and work closely with Social Services and the Bahamas Crisis Centre.

He noted that police are also continuing their domestic violence sensitivity training to be able to respond to incidents properly.

Get serious or Sit Down

Gibson’s organization has been helping abused women and women in need for a number of years after she was sought out by mothers who asked for her assistance.

She said she housed Culmer for several months in her own home during several months of her pregnancy. 

She said during that time Culmer didn’t seem to have a lot of help or assistance from family members.

“It’s sad that we lost her, it’s very sad,” Gibson said.

Last November, Culmer, whose Facebook handle is ‘Dolly Doll’ spoke of the alleged abuse she suffered from her boyfriend and the father of her son.

At the time, she said with tears in her eyes that she had finally decided she wanted better for herself and was tired of the abuse she allegedly suffered.

In an interview with Eyewitness News, Gibson insisted that “situations like Carissa should have never happened.”  

She listed multiple incidents of women who were killed in domestic violence situations, and asked many more would be lost before “mechanisms are put in place”. 

Gibson said she has applied for Crown Land from the government since 2017 to build a house for battered women but has not received any word on it to date. 

“There is nothing in place,” she said, as she underscored the challenges with fighting gender-based violence in the country.

She questioned how she would advise a woman to leave her significant others when there is no place to put her or her children who have to return to the same school.

She said governments should be able to put in place systems to house women with domestic violence and even to help women to be placed out of the country to safety until their “storm has passed”. 

She said every month she sends a report to the Department of Gender Affairs. 

Gibson urged members of the community to partner with FOAM to provide assistance for battered women in need. 

“We can’t wait on the government to come to our aid,” she added.

About Sloan Smith

Sloan Smith is a senior digital reporter at Eyewitness News, covering a diverse range of beats, from politics and crime to environment and human interest. In 2018, Sloan received a nomination for the “Leslie Higgs Feature Writer of The Year Award” from The Bahamas Press Club for her work with Eyewitness News.

1 comments

Sad to see a cycle continuing, my suggestion: 3 from the Police, 2 from the Crisis center, 2 Christian council, 2 from social Services.
You have your main core organizations in your country to spare head and investigate due diligence.

Please don’t take long to get it together, others are out there that are in need of Help.

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