Missing two turn up unharmed
-- manhunt continues for armed gang
Guyana Chronicle
April 12, 2002

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THE young woman and the city businessman who disappeared Tuesday evening, surfaced yesterday, unharmed, and Police are investigating their reported kidnap by a gang of four which later terrorised residents in the Prashad Nagar ward of the city.

Managing Director of Anral Investments Limited, Ramjeet Ramphal, 48, and Marcellene Basdeo, 23, both reportedly contacted their relatives by telephone late Wednesday evening to report that they were alive and well.

Yesterday, they were interviewed by the Criminal Investigation Department of the Police and will be assisting the Police in retracing the path of the kidnappers, an official said.

Ramphal declined to speak to the Chronicle after he was interviewed by officials and Basdeo could not be contacted.

According to reports, Ramphal and Basdeo left dance classes at the Georgetown School of Ballroom and Latin Dance at the Hotel Tower just after 21:00 hrs on Tuesday.

Sources said hotel staff saw Basdeo and Ramphal get into her burgundy Toyota car and pull off.

Reports are that it might have been shortly after they pulled off that they were stopped and overpowered by four armed men who got into the car.

The Chronicle understands that Ramphal told Police that they were driven around for some time before the car stopped and they were tied up, blindfolded and dumped into the trunk of the vehicle.

Ramphal reportedly told Police that they were then driven around for several hours, then lifted out of the trunk of the car and taken to a house where they were thrown onto the floor.

He said the house they were left in is on Kaieteur Road, Bel Air Park, Georgetown.

The two reportedly managed to free themselves and Ramphal, the Chronicle understands, called home at about 22:30 hrs (10:30 p.m.) to say he was alive and well.

Basdeo, of Leonora, West Coast Demerara, reportedly called home at about 00:20 hrs (12:20 a.m.) to say she was also well.

Police in a brief statement yesterday morning said the two had been accounted for.

Police said Ramphal's car, PGG 6982, was founded parked and secured in front of the Tower Hotel on Wednesday morning.

Basdeo's parents were thrown into anguish over her disappearance and the discovery of her "working clothes" hanging on a container behind Demerara Distillers Limited, at Water and Schumaker Streets Wednesday morning.

The Universal Travel Service, where she is employed as an accountant, is not far from where her blouse, skirt and "tights" were found.

She reportedly left work at around 17:05 hrs Tuesday for dance classes at the Hotel Tower and when she did not return home on time, relatives said they dialled her cell phone, but got a message that the phone was either turned off or out of range.

Relatives continued their frantic search in the city throughout the night Tuesday and said when they tried the cell phone again early Wednesday morning, someone answered, reporting that they had the phone, along with the missing girl's banking card.

The person told the relatives that if they wanted the phone, they would have to go to the junction of the Linden/Soesdyke highway. They said this was communicated to the Police.

Police were last night continuing the intense search for the bandits who abandoned a hijacked four-wheel drive vehicle and fled aback of Buxton, East Coast Demerara on Wednesday afternoon, following an armed confrontation with cops.

Before they hijacked the Pathfinder from Prashad Nagar Wednesday morning, the four men attempted to rob a Dadanawa Street, Campbellville family.

The armed men pounced on the female occupant of the house and her maid, and demanded of the occupant money and jewellery.

Screams from the woman alerted neighbours who exchanged gunfire with the bandits.

The two men who had held up the woman inside the yard aborted their mission and jumped over the fence and into Basdeo's car which had a false licence plate, witnesses said.

As the residents continued firing at the bandits, the men fired back, shattering glass windows and other parts of the houses.

A maid from one of the houses from where shots were coming suffered a minor gash to the side of her head from one of the bullets from the bandits.

In their bid to escape, Police said the car the bandits were in slammed into that of University of Guyana Professor Clive Thomas. However, the men managed to escape the hail of gunshots as they sped away.

Witnesses said that as the gang reached the American School in Prashad Nagar, they held a woman at gunpoint and ordered her and her two children out of the silver grey Pathfinder, PGG 8742, they were in.

The security guard on duty tried to get backup through radio communication, but the bandits grabbed hold of his set.

The bandits abandoned Basdeo's car and sped away in the vehicle they commandeered.

Up to press time, the Target Special Squad with support from other sections of the Force, Joint Services and agencies were combing the entire area in an effort to capture the fugitives.

Police said in a press release that "the lawmen were hampered somewhat by darkness, but relentlessly continued their operation" Wednesday night.

Police said a camp with three hammocks, two camouflage sets of clothing, foodstuff and other items "necessary for human existence" were discovered aback of La Bonne Intention (LBI) Housing Scheme and two men, one the brother of one of the five February 23 prison escapees, Andrew Douglas, were arrested and were being questioned.

"While all possible attention is being given to this entire area, all other areas where they are suspected of being are being searched", the Police statement said.

There were unconfirmed reports that the gang was seen in Mahaica yesterday afternoon.

Sources said the escapees are believed to have been involved in the reported kidnapping of the two and the robbery attacks in Prashad Nagar Wednesday morning.

The five escapees - Douglas, Mark Fraser, Dale Moore, Troy Dick and Shawn Brown have been linked to a series of criminal activities, including robbery under arms, car hijacking and murder.

Superintendent Leon Fraser, a top-anti-crime cop and senior member of the `Black Clothes' Police, was killed last week Tuesday as he and other members of the unit approached an abandoned vehicle hidden among bushes in the Yarowkabra area, on the Linden-Soesdyke highway. Police have linked members of the gang to the killing.

Fraser, shot in the head, was the second murder victim of the gang which also killed Prison Officer Troy Williams, 21, when it broke out of the Georgetown Prison. One of the five also shot Woman Prison Officer, Roxanne Whinfield, 36, in the head as they fled and she remains critically wounded in the Georgetown Hospital.

Police have asked members of the public to be on the lookout for any suspicious looking persons, and to report such information to the nearest police station.

The Police are also prepared to take calls on telephone numbers 226-8869, 226-1326, 225-3650, 226-0449, 226-1389, 226-7065, 227-1149 or 225-2700.