By LEANDRA ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE family of deceased Dorian victim Astrid Stratton is calling on the government to release her body, after they claim to have been told by an official this week the missing woman’s remains had been found.
Liann Key-Kaighin, speaking to The Tribune yesterday, said the family received the news Monday morning after a representative from the Central Detective Unit called, saying her aunt’s body, which had been missing since Dorian, had been “miraculously” found.
After receiving this information, Ms Key-Kaighin said she and the representative agreed to meet on Monday to finalise details on the matter.
But what was supposed to be a productive meeting that would allow the family to finally have access to Ms Stratton’s body turned out to be the complete opposite, the Abaco native said.
“(After) I gave her directions to my house, maybe 15 minutes later, she rolls up in an unmarked vehicle and a person gets out – no uniform, no badge, no second officer – and comes up to the door,” she said.
“She’s got a book with a sheet on top and shoves it into my face with a pen and just says ‘here just sign this for us and we’ll be all set.’ I’m like ‘no, no, slow down. I’d like to read the paper please because I don’t sign things that I haven’t read.’
“So, I take the paper, look at it and it says at the top, it’s a release form for bodies to be released to the family for burial… and then there’s a box to the left that says, where she’s pointing to me to sign and it says above that – ‘I have positively identified the person.’
“…I said ‘Miss I can’t sign this form because I haven’t seen my aunt’s body and I haven’t seen any DNA reports. I haven’t seen any pictures,’ so I said ‘Come back to me with a picture or something so I could sign this form’.”
Ms Key-Kaighin said she was told by the CDU representative that she would receive a picture within an hour the same day.
“I ain’t got the text, I ain’t got the picture. I’ve been back and forth all day (Monday) and then (the officer) told me on a call she was not authorised to send me the picture and that (someone) had to authorise her to release a picture to me,” she said.
However, when The Tribune contacted police press liaison, ASP Audley Peters, he said the information was not true.
“I’ve communicated with CDU who has carriage of this matter, the information you received is not factual,” he said.
However, Ms Key-Kaighin claimed she was told by officials her aunt’s body was found.
The situation, she said, has left the family frustrated as to why officials are not being forthcoming and cannot just release her aunt’s remains to them.
Ms Key-Kaighin and her family have been searching for answers concerning the whereabouts of her aunt’s body since last year.
Ms Stratton lost her life to Hurricane Dorian along with three others who sought shelter in her home during the passage of the storm.
“It’s been a daily heartache,” Ms Key- Kaighin told The Tribune last week. “… My mother, in her mind, she’s resigned that there will be no body to bury and, in her mind, she actually hoped she floated away in the sea and for her, it’s better to know that she’s not in the state that she’s in in that container.”
But, now officials have seemingly finally found her remains, Ms Key-Kaighin said the family just wants her body to be released to them so they can carry out a proper burial and move on with their lives.
A service of remembrance for unidentified Dorian victims is expected to be held in Abaco on Friday, the Disaster Reconstruction Authority said in a statement on Monday.
However, Ms Key-Kaighin said residents on the island feel the ceremony is being “rushed”.
“They don’t even have the plots prepared and ain’t no 49 caskets on Abaco. It’s ridiculous. It’s the craziest thing I’ve ever heard and how are we going to have it with the COVID distancing (guidelines),” she said.
“They’re supposed to be giving me my aunty back.”