Five years after she was doused with acid by a man whom she once had a relationship with, Rachael Chadee still lives in fear.
Her alleged attacker was charged with attempted murder but was granted $100,000 bail in 2016, seven months after the attack.
In an interview on Wednesday, Chadee recalled the events of the morning of February 22, 2016, that left her with permanent physical scars.
“It was about 5 am, he (name withheld) broke in my home through the kitchen window and he attacked me with acid. He tried to get me to drink it. I had to fight him off in order to survive but he still managed to throw it on me,” Chadee said.
Her quiet voice and calm demeanour belie the extent of her trauma but the scars that cover her back, her leg and her face speak for themselves.
After the attack, Chadee spent six weeks at the San Fernando General Hospital fighting for her life.
When she was discharged from the hospital, she was placed in a police safe house, as the man was still on the run.
In May 2016, police stormed a house in Palmyra Village, Princes Town, and reportedly found the man hiding between a mattress and a bed frame. He was arrested and his brother-in-law, a 55-year-old handyman and his wife, were also arrested. The couple was charged with harbouring the man, who is the brother of that woman. That arrest too0k place at a house in Palmyra.
In September 2016, the suspect was granted $100,000 bail and ordered to stay away from Chadee as a condition of that bail.
In December 2019, he failed to attend court and a warrant was issued for his arrest. He has been on the run from police since then.
In December 2020, Chadee said she received a chilling phone call from the man’s relatives, who admitted they had been harbouring him for over a year.
“They said he had a falling out with them and before he left, he told them he was going to my house to kill me and burn it down,” Chadee said.
Police later issued a press release, calling on the public to come forward with any information on the suspect’s whereabouts.
Chadee said it was unfair for her and her children to constantly be on the run. She said her three daughters deserve a chance at a normal life.
“I’m asking for some kind of justice, the way they have billboards for missing people, they could have it for wanted people.
I am asking for family and friends of these people, to not think about themselves alone, look at what they are doing to people.
This fight for freedom is for my children, I have three girls and I don’t want them to be living that way, seeing that we have to run for safety, I want them to feel safe.”
She said lawmakers need to enforce stricter parameters for bail for those charged with attempted murder.
And as the five-year anniversary of her gruesome attack draws near, Chadee is haunted by the similarities between the past and the present.
“During this same period police were looking for him and seeing it closer to the date, it’s coming to the 22nd, its nothing but a nightmare for me to relive all the thoughts and feelings and the thought that he is still out there. It is nothing different, it is like all the trauma all over, it has not healed, it does not go away,” she said.
She has fortified her home with burglar proofing, replaced the dogs the man allegedly killed before he broke into her home to attack her and is hyper-vigilant about her surroundings but the fear that he may make good on his threats to ‘finish’ her still cloud her thoughts.
“I live every day in fear for my life, every day, it is not a normal life where an individual can come out and be free and have fun, it may seem so, but I know he is on my back and I am living in fear. My girls don’t have a normal life as well, I am overprotective of them, we have to live as though we are walking on eggshells.”
In December 2020, the TTPS issued a release calling for information on his whereabouts.
The release stated that his last known addresses were Penal and San Fernando.
Police said anyone who may be familiar with the case and knows the suspect’s whereabouts can contact the San Fernando Police Station at 652–2858, 652-1771, 652-3206 or 652-9367, or 999, 555, or make a report via the TTPS App.