Almost 72 hours after 23-year-old Andrea Bharatt was kidnapped, officers of the Anti-Kidnapping Squad (AKS) and the Special Operations Response Team (SORT) are yet to find her.
Four men were detained by officers attached to SORT and the AKS for questioning into the kidnapping of Andrea.
The manhunt, spearheaded by Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith, led SORT officers under Inspector Mark Hernandez and the AKS to two separate homes in East Trinidad.
Senior sources said one man was held at a home in Petit Bourg, while three men were later held at another home in Malabar.
“Personal belongings of the young lady were recovered at both homes,” said a senior police source, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
However, the source said there was no sign of Andrea and they were still pursuing “certain clues.”
“The investigation is still at a very early stage, but we are hoping for the best outcome,” the source told Guardian Media.
The men ages 20-30 were held just after 11 am following information received by police.
Guardian Media was told the suspects have been uncooperative with police.
The police also visited a housing settlement near North Eastern College in Sangre Grande in search of Andrea up to late yesterday but came up empty-handed.
The news of the arrests brought a ray of hope for Andrea’s father Randolph Bharatt.
Andrea, 23, a clerk at the Arima Magistrate’s Court entered a taxi in King Street Arima with a fellow employee on Friday.
A few minutes later Bharatt’s friend was dropped off in Cleaver Heights, Arima.
Andrea never made it home.
A man who answered Andrea’s cellphone hours after her disappearance told Bharatt he wanted money for her daughter’s safe return.
Following the incident, investigators were able to secure CCTV footage of the car in the Cleaver Heights area in an attempt to identify the driver described as an African male, dark complexion and slim built with a second male occupant also in the car who was also of African descent, dark complexion and medium built.
Speaking at his Arima Old Road, Arima home yesterday, her father Randolph Bharatt said he was still in disbelief as to what had happened.
Unable to sleep and eat, Bharatt said he is hoping for the best.
He said when he did not see Andrea come home from work by 4.30 he got worried and an uneasy feeling gripped him.
As the minutes turned into hours, Bharatt said he knew something was not right.
“When I checked the time I sat down for two hours doing nothing…just waiting. I realised something wrong.”
Bharatt called his daughter’s phone but got no response.
Within minutes he dialled again.
“And that is where the drama started,” an emotional Bharatt said.
A man answered the phone around 7.24 pm.
“I does talk rough…everybody does tell me I does talk rough. Not everybody does understand me but I doh mean nothing by it. That is how I is. I asked the guy what you doing with my daughter’s phone and that man started to carry on and he used some obscene (language),” Bharatt recalled.
Bharrat said his conversation with the man lasted a few seconds.
He said the man told him “you is not a killer. You don’t know who you are dealing with. I get frighten and I hang up the phone.”
Bharatt said seven minutes later he called his daughter’s phone again.
“When the guy answered he said he want money. He say you don’t know who you talking to. You is not a baddist…you is not a killer.”
Bharatt said the kidnapper did not like how he spoke to him, promising to send “a piece of my daughter’s ear to me.”
Again, Bharatt hung up the phone.
That was the last time he spoke to daughter’s kidnappers.
“I ain’t get no call and I ain’t hear nothing again.”
Bharatt said he retired as an auto electrician and began fixing household appliances which maintains him.
He said he is not a rich person.
He said drivers who ply different routes would pull up on the Arima Old Road taxi stand and run a few trips over a few days and disappear.
“It was one of those taxis my daughter took.”
Fresh tears flowed from his eyes when asked to describe his daughter.
“Andrea is the most quietest egg you could find. No complaint, no quarrel, no nothing. She is a gem of a girl.”
He said he cannot say who might be involved in the kidnapping.
He shudders to think what his daughter has gone through and continues to face while being captive.
“That girl is an egg. I don’t know what to say.”
He pleaded with the kidnapper “do not harm my daughter. Please release her. Let her come home safe. I begging…She is the only thing in my life.”
Bharatt’s said wife Sandy succumbed to a rare skin disorder in 2012.
Andrea also suffers from a skin disorder just like her mom.
“My daughter is a sickly child…she has a bad skin condition. She cannot eat everything. She cannot drink milk. Nothing don’t agree with her skin. She has a skin disease.”
For years, Bharatt said Andrea has been visiting dermatologists but nothing has been working.
“For the past 13 years she has been sick. All my money is in doctor bills.”
He said he spent $250,000 by various skin specialists locally and abroad to save his wife’s life but she did not last.
“The doctors sucked me dry. Not a cent saved.”
Seeing after Andrea’s health, Bharatt said is like reliving this nightmare all over again.
“It is not cheap to go by doctors…specialists. Every time you go is $800 twice for the month. The specialists in this country don’t know what to do. Is only blood test after blood test and nothing. They have no cure for she disease. Is only God I depending on to cure that child. All yuh please send my child home,” Bharatt said bursting into tears.
Bharatt said Andrea needs medication to help control her skin condition.
He showered praises to the police for going all in their search.
“The police doing their working. They have things which they are not revealing. But I good with that. They doing things.”
Clutching her chest, Sally Sooman said the only word to describe Andrea was “angelic. She is truly an angel.”
Sooman, Andrea’s cousin said some Old Road taxi drivers have been assisting the police with information and giving the family words of encouragement and support.
“The drivers printed flyers of Andrea’s disappearance which they stuck up in Arima hoping that someone would come forward and say something. We are keeping our fingers crossed.”