Utilda Joseph

Walking, cooking, household chores or even gardening are activities that posed no trouble for pensioner Utilda Joseph fondly called Aunty Tilda. She would have turned 97 years old today, closer to the big 100, something she was looking forward to.

But, that was not to be. Last month, she was attacked and strangled at her Quarry Village, Siparia home.

The only things stolen from her home were her bank book and identification card.

In an interview yesterday, her great-nephew Joseph “Carver” Thompson said her absence in their life has left a sombre emptiness.

Recalling that he would have spent her last four consecutive birthday’s with her, either at his home or hers, he remembered how every year she would say that she did not want to celebrate her birthday.

“But, that did not stop me from doing it. Last year we had a little get together home by her. She had a cake. She was just happy to be alive. She was looking forward to making 100 plus because she was physically healthy apart from a hearing impediment.”

Had she not been murdered, he believes would have joined the centenarian community.

Thompson said today he would be at his home flooded with memories of his greataunt and drinking Vodka.

“She would take a drink of Vodka on her birthday. So I will be taking a shot of Vodka for her. I’ll have two glasses one for me and one for her. It’s just I will be drinking the two.”

While no one has been charged, he said the police had shown photographs of three suspects to the villagers.

Recently, he said one of Joseph’s neighbours found a man sleeping in their house and the perpetrator ran off. He wasn’t sure if that person was ever considered someone of interest in his great aunt’s murder. Joseph had one child, a son, who died from cancer four years ago at the age of 74. She lived alone in a wooden house in an underdeveloped area at Hillview Lane. The house had no electricity. She would have had to walk through a track to get to and from her home. She was last seen alive by a neighbour who left her home around 3 pm on May 16.

Her body was discovered on Saturday afternoon when neighbour Dianne Paul got worried after she did not see her in her usual spot in the hammock under her house. Police said Joseph’s wrist was tied tightly with a piece of cloth while her other hand was under the area of her back. Her mouth had bloodstains. Police believe that her killer removed three louvre panes and crawled into her house. Considered a motherly figure in the community, her murder has left a void in the village.

“She was a very helpful caring person. Everyone in the village where she lived loved her. She mind almost all the children in the area. Those parents who had to go work and had no one to see their children they would drop their kids by her. She was kind, always giving. Most importantly, my great aunt was very independent and strong for her age.” Last July, Joseph was honoured by the Community Development Ministry for being the oldest person in the community. Alluding to the recent murder of cultural icon Torrance Mohammed, Thompson said he was saddened by the frequent attacks on senior citizens in the country.

“What happen is a lot of people are losing respect for senior citizens and those are the ones who have paved the way for us. Instead of helping an elderly person cross the street they attacking them and grabbing their bag.”

Calling on those who carry out these heinous acts to stop, he said, “I want to make an appeal to respect elderly, respect our senior citizens. We are all going to get old one day and we don’t know what situation we will be in.”

An autopsy at the Forensic Science Centre revealed that she manually strangled.

Her funeral took place on April 24 at the Universe RC Church in Quarry Village.