Lead Editor, Investigative Desk
Police have uncovered a potential clue in the kidnapping of 23-year-old Andrea Bharatt that may bring them closer to finding her while two organisations have offered cash incentives for information leading to the release of the Arima Magistrate’s Court clerk.
Crime Stoppers has offered a $50,000 reward while Mode Alive’s Gary Aboud has pledged $25,000.
Senior police sources told Guardian Media that the clue was uncovered at another location in Sangre Grande about 20-minutes’ drive from Nonpariel Road, Fishing Pond, where police had searched on Monday with army officers.
The exhaustive six-hour search on Monday of the forested area turned up empty-handed.
Yesterday morning they also began their search at the same location together with several hunting groups who were given permission by Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith to assist the police with their search in that area.
The hunters who met at Sangre Grande Police Station later met up with the officers at Nonpariel Road.
Some of the hunters told Guardian Media that they were happy to lend police a helping hand in their search. They came from several parts of Trinidad to join in the search.
After searching the Nonpariel Road area, police, together with the hunters, headed to an area north of that location after receiving some electronic information.
The discovery of the clue was made by investigators shortly after 1 pm at this particular location.
Guardian Media understands that the clue was found by the lawmen after a six-minute trek into a forested area.
The location was temporarily secured and police gathered what they needed at the site.
Due to the sensitivity of the information, Guardian Media gave senior police sources the assurance that they would not go into any specifics, to ensure that their investigation is not compromised.
“We appreciate that,” one senior officer told Guardian Media.
Sources said they were hoping to uncover further clues that could assist them in finally finding Bharatt.
Investigators say they intend to return to the location tomorrow to do further searches for other potential clues that can lead them in the direction of Bharatt.
And while the police will continue their searches, Crime Stoppers yesterday issued a $50,000 reward for any information that could assist in finding Bharatt. They encouraged anyone with information to call Crime Stoppers anonymously at 800-TIPS(8477) or submit a tip online at www.crimestopperstt.com.
Crime Stoppers gave the assurance that any information provided would be anonymous and the collection of any reward is also anonymous.
Mode Alive’s Gary Aboud made the offer via his Facebook page.
“Andrea Bharatt is 21-years-old (sic) and she is in danger, her family is in distress…we don’t know them, but she is one of ours and you, if you are listening and you have knowledge please report it. Anything remotely suspicious that you see, please report it,” he said.
He added: “If it leads to her recovery, we will pay you $25,000. We’re not going anywhere. Please share this video. Let’s get back Andrea Bharatt. Then we’ll have more reason to celebrate than all of Carnival could have given us. Please get back Andrea Bharatt.”
Bharatt was taken on Friday after she went into a Nissan Versa motorcar that was a supposed taxi with a female co-worker. Her co-worker dropped off in Cleaver Heights, Arima. Bharatt’s home was ten minutes away, but she never made it home.
One of the alleged kidnappers had told her father on Friday night —when her father spoke with her kidnapper a second time after her father had appeared aggressive the first time on the phone with him—“for getting on so I will send your daughter’s ears for you.”
The man had also asked for a sum of money. However, there was no further communication from Bharatt’s kidnappers.
Over the weekend police detained five suspects for questioning into her disappearance.
One of the suspects, Guardian Media was reliably informed, was well known to the police, and the 37-year-old Sangre Grande man described as the mastermind behind the kidnapping is a “sexual offender, firearm offender, drug offender, robbery offender, larceny offender, and a kidnapper.”
Another of the suspects in custody is the 24-year-old son of a police officer and has been the only one to date to secure the services of a lawyer.