Local USVI News

Autopsy Still Pending for Former U.S. Swim Champ Found Unresponsive Last Week in St. John; International Media Places Scrutiny on Boyfriend

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With the results of an autopsy still reportedly pending in the death of Jamie Cail, a 42-year-old woman originally from New Hampshire who found unresponsive late February by her boyfriend in the home they shared, the family of another visitor killed in the territory is urging the community to report any information they may have in Cail’s death to the police.

The death of Ms. Cail, a former member of the U.S. National Swimming Team in the late 1990s, is garnering national and international headlines as the Virgin Islands Police Department remains tight-lipped about the progress of their investigation.In a public statement issued immediately after her death, the VIPD said that after being found and transported to a local medical facility, Cail “succumbed to her ailment,” without disclosing further details. VIPD Communications Director Glen Dratte told reporters from CNN that authorities were “anxiously awaiting” the autopsy results, noting that it was “crucial” to get things right as the investigation unfolds, and that there were “a lot of moving parts” that had to be managed correctly by police. 

That stated careful approach has not mollified Jean Cockayne, the mother of James Cockayne, a 21-year old man from Pennsylvania who was found stabbed to death in 2007 after reportedly having had an altercation with three local men. After several years and multiple trials, in 2012 Jahlil Ward pleaded to one count of voluntary manslaughter and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Two years prior, Anselmo Boston and Kamal Thomas had been convicted on assault and weapons charges in the matter, and each sentenced to eight years in prison. In the course of the prosecution of Ms. Cockayne’s death, convictions of Boston and Thomas in 2009 were thrown out because the presiding judge reportedly found that the family of the deceased had paid witnesses who subsequently testified during trial.

After Ms. Cail’s death, Ms. Cockayne told reporters that someone had contacted her, identifying Mr. Thomas as the swim champion’s boyfriend. Despite her family being at least partly responsible for the delays in Mr. Thomas’s eventual conviction, Ms. Cockayne nevertheless called the VIPD “inept”, saying that she had to hire a private detective to ensure that justice was done for her son, while suggesting that Ms. Cail’s family consider the same course of action. “If they want justice for their daughter, they’re going to need to fight for it.”

In a more recent incident, British national Sarm Heslop is still missing, two years after her disappearance following a dinner with boyfriend Ryan Bane at a popular St. John restaurant. In December, Ms. Heslop’s best friend said that the family wanted UK authorities to open an investigation of their own into her daughter’s disappearance, as they believe that the probe by local authorities here in the USVI has slowed practically to a halt, with the VIPD reluctant to share crucial information with the family.

“We’re no clearer as to what happened that night than at the start [of the VIPD investigation],” Kate Owen told the Sunday People. In Ms. Heslop’s case, the Consortium understands that despite the VIPD having a keen interest in speaking to Mr. Bane and examining his boat — the formerly-named Siren Song from which he says his girlfriend vanished — detectives were unable to establish sufficient probable cause to allow them to get warrants to search the boat, even after a former partner of Mr. Bane went public about his violent behavior during their relationship. In the face of Bane’s refusal to voluntarily provide access, local authorities were unable to prevent him from ultimately sailing out of their jurisdiction, making major upgrades to the vessel, and offering it for sale.

As with Mr. Bane, the VIPD have not, as of yet, named Ms. Cail’s boyfriend as a suspect in her death. Her family has yet to make a public statement about her passing.

This post was orig­i­nally pub­lished on this site

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