‘Give her money to travel home’


Devon Richards, father of missing teenager Mariah Richards looks at a photo of her on his phone at his home on First Branch Trace, Monkey Town, New Grant. – AYANNA KINSALE

Even if they just give her money to travel and find her way home, retired fireman Devon Richards wants the people holding his 13-year-old daughter Mariah Richards captive to let her go.

On Monday morning, Mariah left home at First Branch Trace, Monkey Town, to buy bread at a nearby shop, but never came back.

Even more unsettling were two phone calls which Richards and his wife received later that day.

When Newsday visited the family on Thursday, Richards told Newsday he was becoming increasingly worried about his daughter’s safety as the days went by.

Mariah Richards –

He pleaded, “All I could say to them (the people that she’s with) is that she’s a young child, 13 years, and she has her whole life ahead of her. I just asking them, if allyuh don’t want to drop her back home, give her some passage and she could find her way back home wherever she is. She’s a Trinidadian and she must know how to get back home. Give her some passage.

“If allyuh want to drop her on the highway and say she’s on the highway, we’re okay with that. Just don’t harm her.”

He said the entire family is on edge and only want to see Mariah walking back in.

“Everybody missing her, everybody right now in a total mess. It’s every day everybody calling, whole day everybody calling.

“She was a well-known child and in school, she was the life of the school. She just used to attract people to her.”

For Richards, nothing was unusual about Monday morning.

He woke up Mariah – a form two student at Barrackpore West Secondary School – to get ready for online classes, and then dropped his wife to work. Before leaving, he gave Mariah money to buy bread.

When he returned home shortly after 9am, he checked to ensure she was paying attention to her classes, but she was nowhere to be found.

He first asked Mariah’s grandmother, who was home at the time, about her whereabouts, but was told she did not return home after going to buy the bread.

She was wearing a red dress and black slippers.

“I went to look for her one time, because I recognised it was school hours. I went by the two parlours (nearby) where we would normally purchase the bread, but she wasn’t there.

“I thought maybe she went further out the road by the grocery to buy the bread, because they does want snacks and stuff sometimes, but she was nowhere there.”

A concerned Richards reported his daughter missing to Tableland Police Station after noon. He did not want to wait 24 hours (the time advised to report someone missing) because he felt something was strange.

Nearby security-camera footage shows Mariah leaving home around 8.46am and walking towards the First Branch and Second Branch Junction, where one shop is, around 8.48am.

But the footage shows she never reached the junction, and what happened to her is a mystery.

“My wife got two calls from the people who she’s with. What they told my wife the first time is that she’s in their presence and they made a mistake and pick up the wrong person. They told us they would have sent her back on Monday or Tuesday.

Devon Richards, father of missing teenager Mariah Richards speaks to the media as her cousin Machai Alexander looks on at their home on First Branch Trace, Monkey Town, New Grant. – AYANNA KINSALE

“When they called back the second time, my wife started to demand that they bring our daughter back home now.

“The guy on the phone said, ‘Don’t loud up the scene, it’s just a mistake we make.’ When my wife started carrying on, the phone cut off.”

When Newsday visited the family, Mariah’s mother was at work.

Richards said she couldn’t cope with sitting at home with no updates about her daughter, and felt it was best to work and keep herselfdistracted.

To date there has been no request for a ransom and since the last call, Richards has had no more updates about his daughter.

Mariah’s activities, including what she did online, were heavily monitored and Richards said the furthest she was allowed to go without supervision was the two nearby shops. If she needed to go to the grocery, which is slightly further away, she had to go with an older relative.

“We had a situation about two years ago where she was going to school and went to lime with some friends.

“Since after that situation, I took control of her movements. I’m retired, so I have the time. Ever since that, I made it a rule that she would not leave here without my consent. When I said she going somewhere, then she went.”

Mariah’s disappearance is being investigated by the Anti-Kidnapping Unit, but Richards said little update is being given about the investigation which is frustrating.

“Up to this time, from Monday to now, we have been doing all we can. We went all about and we’ve been searching.

“We see people putting her up on social media and yesterday (Wednesday) we see the police finally made a post. I find that post took kind of long, though, because we had all the information Monday.

“Nevertheless, we have been searching left, right and centre. Villagers, friends, sisters, brothers, family…everybody.”

Anyone with information on Mariah’s whereabouts is asked to contact the Tableland police at 656-3430, the police hotlines at 999, 555, or make a report via the police website or app.

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