Less than two months after being released from the Richmond Hill prison, 27-year old Dave Martin “Giant” “Shuttle” Benjamin is back in custody after being charged with the weekend murder of an American woman vacationing in Grenada with her husband.
Jessica Colker was allegedly hacked to death with the use of a cutlass by the ex convict who was recently released from prison after serving five years for rape.
Benjamin who is from Coals Gap in St. David’s made a brief appearance Wednesday morning before Magistrate Nevlyn John in the Grenville Magistrate’s Court.
The accused, who hid his face from the media, is due to appear at the St. David’s Magistrate’s Court today (Friday January 29).
The incident took place on Sunday morning at La Sagesse Beach when Colker along with her husband, 62-year-old Brian Melito, were on a leisure walk along a remote part of the beach, one day after arriving in Grenada.
The couple flew in from Atlanta, Georgia to spend their vacation at the small La Sagesse Nature Centre resort.
THE NEW TODAY was reliably informed that the Americans were attacked by someone who concealed his identity with the use of a mask.
He reportedly told the husband “to beat it” while pointing the cutlass in a rather menacing manner at him.
The husband ran for help and the body of the 39-year old Anesthesiologist was found nearly an hour later in the nearby mangrove.
An autopsy done on Colker’s body concluded that she died as a result of extensive skull fracture and asphyxia.
Benjamin who is a landscaper by profession, became the chief suspect when a number of persons in the area told police investigators that they had seen him in the area moments before the incident.
A British national staying at the resort also informed the police that earlier in the day he had been engaged in a conversation with a man who had a cutlass in hand and fitted the description of the alleged assailant.
The suspect, accompanied by his father, walked into the St. David’s police station on Monday morning after words had circulated that he was a person of interest in connection with the murder.
According to police insiders, Benjamin did not co-operate with the police and denied any involvement in the killing.
One official told this newspaper that a breakthrough came when it was decided to put him on parade before the British man who had spoken to him on the La Sagesse beach.
A positive identification was made, followed by the decision to charge Benjamin with capital murder.
THE NEW TODAY understands that the grand father of the accused had spent a lengthy time at the Richmond Hill prison after he was convicted along with several others with murder.
The murder-suspect was not represented by Counsel when he appeared in court.
The U.S. Embassy in Grenada released a statement on the incident which reads: “The U.S. Embassy confirms the death of American citizen, Jessica Lewis Colker, of Georgia who was vacationing in Grenada when she died. The embassy is working closely with officials investigating Ms. Colker’s death.
Inquiries related to the ongoing investigation should be directed to the Royal Grenada Police Force”.
Colker was a physician’s assistant in anesthesiology at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.
“Jessica was a valued member of our children’s team,” said a statement from the hospital.
“We are deeply saddened by this horrific news. Our thoughts and prayers go out to her family during this very difficult time”, it added.
Hospital sources who spoke with a US media outfit said they were shocked by her brutal murder, but said they wanted to make sure she was remembered not for how she died, but how she lived.
“She was an amazing person,” said one source close to the staff. “She was a sweetheart who never had a bad word to say about anybody.”
The slaying of the American woman comes six weeks after the partially decomposed body of Canadian Linnea Veinotte was found at Golf Course, St. George’s days after she was reported to be missing after going for a walk.
The two incidents have caught world attention, putting a spotlight on the country.
Fox News issued a report on the latest incident and referred to a statement from a spokesperson at the U.S State Department before the latest attack which said, “we rank Grenada as a Caribbean Island to keep an eye on, in terms of crime and security.”
The State Department warned travellers to be aware of their surroundings in Grenada, especially after dark.
Prime Minister and Minister of National Security, Dr. Keith Mitchell used a recent sitting of the Lower House of Parliament to assure the nation and the world that Grenada is still a safe place.
He said Grenada is known to be “one of the most peaceful and safest countries in the hemisphere.”
The hierarchy of the Royal Grenada Police Force addressed the murder of the American Woman during a press conference held Wednesday.