A six-day search for a missing Canadian woman ended in the early hours of Saturday morning when the chief suspect, Akim Frank of Jean Anglais turned himself in at the South St. George Police Station at Morne Rouge.
The Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF) was under public pressure to find Dr. Linnea Veinotte, a Faculty member of St. George’s University (SGU) who went missing on Sunday, December 6 while walking her dog in the Lance Aux Epines area.
Linnea’s partly decomposed body was found last Friday in a bushy area of Golf Course after Frank allegedly dumped it there.
The only clue that the police had to work on in the mysterious disappearance of the SGU staff member was that she and her dog were hit by a vehicle in an area known as Coral Crescent.
The vehicle allegedly sped away from the scene and police investigators, armed with a description started a massive hunt including visits to garage shops to look for a navy blue or dark grey Suzuki Vitara or Escudo with damage to the front right side.
THE NEW TODAY understands that a critical break for the lawmen came when two family members of the suspect provided vital information, which led to Akim becoming the prime suspect.
A source close to the investigation told this newspaper that the suspect might have confided to both his mother and a brother about his involvement in the disappearance of Linnea.
He said the lawmen, armed with this information, decided to swoop down on a small guesthouse in the south where Akim was employed to search for a vehicle that might have been used in the accident.
He spoke of the owner of the vehicle, an elderly business operator, co-operating fully with the police investigators.
According to the source, the police received information that the owner of the vehicle had given Akim use of the vehicle to attend the final of a major football competition last Saturday in Victoria Park in Grenville.
He spoke of the 26-year old murder suspect returning the vehicle in a damaged state and telling the owner that he had struck a tree while on his way back into St. George’s from St. Andrew’s.
He said the police felt they were on the verge of solving the mysterious disappearance of Linnea as they looked closely at the vehicle and realized that the damage on it were consistent with some of the other leads given to them.
There are reports that the police sought the assistance of the vehicle owner to contact Akim who immediately went into hiding as soon as he was told that the lawmen wanted to ask him a few questions.
RGPF soon put out a bulletin asking persons to be on the look out for the suspect who was deemed to be armed and dangerous.
The search ended about six hours later when Akim turned himself into the South St. George Police Station.
The Jean Anglais resident reportedly “confessed” to the lawmen that he was the driver of the vehicle that struck the woman and the dog in Lance Aux Epines.
According to well-placed sources, the 26-year old told police investigators that he went into the area to drop-off someone and was driving the vehicle with speed since he was late in bringing it back to the owner.
He reportedly said that after running into the woman and the dog, he stopped and decided to pick up Linnea who fell to the ground and carry her to the St. George’s General hospital for medical treatment.
The prime suspect informed the lawmen that he put the injured lady into the back of the vehicle and took the route leading into Grand Anse Valley to get into the city.
“He said that it was while driving the vehicle that he noticed that it started to wobble and when he stopped he realised that he had a flat tyre. He took the vehicle into an area along the road to change the tyre and when he saw a man and an animal he decided to drive off, he stopped somewhere else, changed the tyre and when he looked back at the woman, he said he find that she looked as if she was dead and he got even more scared and decided to drive the vehicle instead to Golf Course and put out the woman,” the source said.
When Akim appeared in court on Monday before Chief Magistrate, Tamara Gill in the St. George’s No.1 Magistrate’s Court, the murder accused sat with the most relaxed look on his face.
Occasionally, he was seen exchanging a few words with his attorney, Francis Williams.
Two other persons including his wife were seen inside the packed courtroom as the Chief Magistrate read out the charge of non-capital murder to him after which Akim was remanded to the Richmond Hill prison until his next court date on December 30.
In 2008, Akim Frank then an 18 year old Imani drop-out was given a prison sentence of nine months for the offence of burglary, and 6-months for the offense of causing harm, stealing and wounding to run concurrently.
In a media briefing Monday at Police Headquarters at Fort George, Acting Commissioner of Police Winston James thanked the media and community for assisting the lawmen with information that led to the location of the deceased and the arrest of the accused.
“It was very challenging because from the beginning, we did not have a clue as to what happened and I must take the opportunity here to thank the general public for supplying us with information which subsequently led to the arrest of the young man,” said the island’s chief cop.
He told reporters the post-mortem that was done indicated that Linnea died as a result of the accident.
“It is as a result of blunt force trauma to the chest and the lower part of the body,” he said.
The top cop announced that the police are now in the process of sending broken glass, which was found at the scene of the accident and hair samples for forensic testing.
The hair samples were allegedly taken from the vehicle that was apprehended by the lawmen.
According to the Acting Police Commissioner, as it stands right now there is no reason to incriminate anyone else for the crime committed “but the investigation is still open.”
This seemed to be a clear reference to the frequent allegations and calls made on the Social Media for police to pick up and question the husband of the deceased in connection with the incident.
There are rumours that there was a heated argument on Fort George between Matt Veinotte and a member of the Police high Command on the conduct of the investigation into the disappearance of his wife.
The husband reportedly made demands on the police to act more swiftly and call in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for assistance.
Sources told THE NEW TODAY that a member of the High Command responded diplomatically by telling the husband that the police were acting professionally because if they were not then he might have been taken in already for questioning based on information posted and carried on Social Media.
Linnea, a mother of two from New Brunswick in Canada, took up residency in Grenada in August to teach at SGU.