Never-ending pain - Ananda Dean’s father still waiting for justice
Scrolling through Richard Dean’s social-media page, you will see posts and shares about missing children.
His profile picture is one of his five-year-old daughter, but one cannot scroll by without staring at the bright eyes and captivating smile of the little girl on his cover photo.
That photo is of his daughter Ananda Dean, whose life was snuffed out in September 2008.
Her death triggered the creation of the Ananda Alert system, designed to ensure the speedy and safe recovery of a child in the event that he/she cannot be located by a caregiver.
According to Dean, although it has been more than a decade since her passing, the pain remains unbearable.
“To know that Ananda was just taken away from me is a harsh feeling that I cannot explain. It is the constant support that I have around me that keeps me going. My heart skips a beat every time when I see another child goes missing, and I always pray he/she returns home, but that is not always the case,” he said.
He told THE STAR that he is imploring the Government to make the Ananda Alert system more efficient.
“I think more can be done as it relates to the missing children. Not everyone uses social media, so why not install a few billboards in certain hotspot areas? Have little workshops to get people more aware and get the message across about the system. More needs to be done so that persons can even be educated about what to look for or report anything that looks suspicious. Sometimes children are being kidnapped before our own eyes, but we don’t know,” he said.
Dean described Ananda as a perfect child who had a heart of gold.
“She was full of manners and very helpful. She was loving and was loved by everyone, and this is evident in how the entire community, including the school (Swallowfield All-Age), assisted with her search when she went missing. If she was alive today, she would be looking towards leaving university. I know she would have had some positive impact on society, but her killers took her life and changed our lives forever,” he said.
Eleven-year-old Ananda went missing on September 17, 2008. The youngster, who was living at her aunt’s home in Grants Pen, St Andrew, was last seen on a bus heading to Half-Way Tree after school.
Several of her schoolbooks were found days after she went missing, strewn along a pathway in Pembroke Hall.
“When I heard that her books were found, I became hopeful again that she would be found alive, and we searched down the entire Pembroke Hall. We were inside of people’s yard, and persons from that community were also assisting as they had learned about her disappearance over the news,” he said.
Dean left no stone unturned as he searched for his daughter. He said he acted on every clue and lead that he got via telephone calls.
However, unscrupulous persons used the opportunity to try to cash in on Ananda’s disappearance, requesting money for information that proved to be false.
Eleven days later, the entire nation was rocked when Ananda’s decomposing remains were found dumped in bushes in Cypress Hill, Belvedere, St Andrew.
The body was naked and headless. A skull was all that remained of the head.
Ananda’s case remains unsolved, but Dean remains hopeful that one day, her killer or killers will be brought to justice.
“There are hundreds of children that went missing after Ananda died, and a lot of them were found dead, but we hardly ever hear about anyone being convicted, and that is really sad,” he said. “As it relates to Ananda, I would like to see closure. While I have forgiven her killers to make it a bit easier on myself, I still would want to know why and who would kill my baby.”