Monday, April 29, 2013

What's in the news in Belize? Triple Murder

This weekend we heard reports of a young mother drowning three of her four children. Today there was confirmation of the story and details were released by the police.

Here is the story as reported by Patrick E. Jones on Facebook:  
TRIPLE MURDER: Police today released details of the tragedy that unfolded on Saturday afternoon in which 3 young children drowned, allegedly at the hands of their mother, identified as Felicia Chen, 22. The victims of the drowning are:Triana Teul, 4; Thomas Teul, 3 and Trinaya Teul, 1. According to the police report, Felilcia Chen went to Belizean Beach on Saturday morning with her four children. Police say that when Chen arrived she “took all her four children and walked with then into the sea until all three were drowned.” The eldest child, Trina Teul, 6, reportedly ran out of the sea and alerted someone on the highway of the incident. Police say the bodies of the deceased children were identified by their grandmother and taken to the KHMH where autopsies will be carried out. Police have since detained the mother of the children, Fellicia Chen, pending the outcome of the investigation.
As I was doing research about this young mother I found another story on Facebook that tells some of her tragic history:

Felicia: student, mother, accused of Filicide
by Jose Sanchez (Notes) on Monday, April 29, 2013 at 2:00pm
When I taught in a classroom, there was this vibrant third forms group 3B2. I had recently migrated from the public school system to a private one. 3B2 students had a good mix of energy from all parts of Belize City, there were students also from P.G. It was easy to notice when one is falling behind because there were so many of them who held promise and an excess of energy. Some students were talking about attending UWI, others were talking about careers. It was a different tune to listen to, as the stories at public high school that I heard were more of this sort “Sir, we can go there?” In response to asking them to view an exhibit at the Image Factory. Or “Sir, police raid my house last night and we had to go to station because they found weed my brother hustle with. Nonetheless, early on that year I had second period Lit. with 3B2. The class would be empty as the girls moved on to third period in the bio./chem. labs. So while I went over some work in the empty classroom, that is when Felicia walked in maybe on two occasions. The school had a system, so after clearing with the office she stopped by her homeroom to take her bags. I asked her about her tardiness. She could only say that she got late taking the bus. But I noticed her repeated absences and I asked her homeroom teacher. But apparently she was being taken in by this school as a ‘comeback kid’ after pregnancy elsewhere. The education system did not give up on her, and this particular institution which has been famed in literature for being harsh on pregnant teens, was giving her a chance. Pregnant teens don’t march for graduation, but they can get their diploma. They may take an exam, but not with their class. I repeat, this part of the system did not give up on her. I also asked her classmates, the ones who had that excessive energy to look into her but they said instantly that she kept to herself. She did not complete the term. The next time I saw Felicia it was on  the January 5, 2009 on News5.

Eighteen year old Felicia Chen, pregnant, and her one year old baby Trina Teul, were hit by a bus. The bus ran over Chen’s left leg and the toddler was bruised and under the bus.

Felicia Chen, Accident Victim

“I was going shopping because I was eight months pregnant so I had to buy the rest of stuff because I don’t know when I would have the baby... I just put my one year old on top of the sidewalk and as I was about to put my foot on the sidewalk I just felt something hit me hard right here. And the next thing I know I just looked and I saw my one year old underneath the bus. And she was, she was just vomiting everything up and then I tried to stop the bus but the bus didn’t want to stop and so my foot went underneath the tire and I was holding the tire and I was holding the tire and I told them to stop because I did not want them to ride over my baby.”

“The only thing I worry about is my baby girl because she is the one that is really traumatized in all this. I feel very sorry for her because she was born premature already, she is a sickly baby and now all of this that went on, I don’t know if she’ll ever get better after this. I just want to tell everybody whoever saw it what happen, please contact my mom or please go to the police station and make a report please because for one I won’t have my life back and worst my daughter because she is in complete shock right now.

I was surprised to see that she was on child number two. Eighteen and two children. She should be like the rest of her former classmates, having fun somewhere dancing, being foolish in love, studying at sixth form...maybe just finishing high school.

But now she’s at the police station being questioned about the death offour year old Triana Elica Teul, three year old Thomas Edilberto Teul and one year old Trinaya Felicia Teul four year old Triana Elica Teul, three year old Thomas Edilberto Teul and one year old Trinaya Felicia Teul.  One year old, Felicia had barely rested from giving birth. Twenty three years old, unemployed, under educated, and being a mother from when the father could have been arrested for carnal knowledge. What hospitals did she give birth? What clinics did she attend? Why did social services miss this case? Let’s stop with the ‘why’ because when will it stop? should be the next question. And Trina, the girl who survived the bus accident and now the loss of her siblings, who will help her?

An article on CNN quotes Cheryl Meyer, a psychologist at Wright State University in Ohio and co-author of several books on the subject.  He said, according to the article  “it's probable that a mother kills a child somewhere in the U.S. once every three days.  One common trait among women who do not follow through on such harmful impulses is positive social support, she said. But many women are afraid of seeking help because they are afraid of being ostracized or accused of bad parenting... The Ohio psychologist says women who kill with purpose tend to be devoted mothers in their 30s who have suffered some kind of loss, and who murder all of their children at once by a violent means such as a knife or a gun. Those who kill by neglect tend to be younger and of lower socioeconomic status, who do not kill all of their children at the same time, and the cause of death is usually suffocation or smothering.”

Paula Bruce, clinical and forensic psychologist says cases, mothers who turn against their own children have chronic depression. Continual feelings of insufficiency and unexpressed anger can build up over time; killing one's own children is the "ultimate expression of rage," she said.  In some cases of filicide, the mother is unable to think about the experience of the child and can focus only on her own feelings of pleasure or distress, Bruce said."Getting rid of the children is just about getting rid of her own pain, not about thinking about the children as separate from her. Late this evening, Felicia was charges with three counts of murder. This afternoon, I went to buy some lunch and I saw one of her former classmates, Maya. I told her about it, she was surprised. Maya was having lunch with a friend at the Brodies deli having a good time as any person barely over twenty years should be. Felicia could have been sitting on the other end of that table.

Felicia Chen, Charged with 3 counts of Murder


The murder of these three precious children is such a tragedy and speaks to the need for wider spread access to mental health care here in Belize. As well as that this stigma regarding seeing a therapist needs to end. Fear of people thinking that everyone will know their problem or a fear of what the neighbors will think is killing the children here in Belize.  This girl began having children a year before the legal age of consent to sexual activity according to the laws of Belize and I am left to wonder if anyone was held accountable for that.  One reporter asked the question, "is she a victim or a murderer?"  My answer...she is both.  And sadly she will have to live the remaining days of her life with the consequences of both states of being.  And I pray that someone is there for little Trina, the survivor, as she moves forward in life and seeks to understand what happened that day.

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