By Lakhram Bhagirat
Kezia King and her brother, Oriel King’s world changed, not for the better but the worst, about ten months ago when they witnessed their father – the man that was supposed to protect and care for them – brutally hacking their mother to death.
Their pain is incomprehensible and they are trying to cope with not just the loss but the callous way their mother was taken from them.
On March 27, 2020, at about 19:30h, according to the Police, 37-year-old Natoya Speede was chopped to death by her husband Orrin King in the vicinity of the Bartica Airstrip, Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni). He would then turn the knife on himself in what would turn out to be a failed attempt to take his own life.
He would later be charged for murder and was remanded to prison until his matter comes up again on May 14.
The Sunday Times recently sat down, virtually, with Kezia and her aunt Kellyann Speede where they related how the family have been coping with the tragedy.
Kezia celebrated her 18th birthday on January 12 and for her it was the toughest one yet because her mother was not there to shower her with love like before. While her aunt is there supporting them, the void that her mother’s death left behind remains unfilled.
The teenager has been having a difficult time coping particularly because of the fact that she witnessed her mother’s murder. She tried to save her but could not overpower her father.
Recounting her parents’ relationship, Kezia said that they were deeply in love for the first 15 years of her life. She said that her father and mother, like many couples, would have small arguments but they would confront the issues and move on.
However, when she turned 15, things started to change in the home. Her parents’ relationship started on a downward spiral and that saw her father becoming extremely abusive not just to her mother, but also to herself and brother.
“He started bickering and using indecent languages at us. He would just come home from work and start cussing or just bickering if things didn’t go his way and if my mom wanted to just go by her sister to just hang out or relax, he would get angry and jealous. He was even jealous of us because if she was around us for too long, he would start chasing us and stuff like that.
“He used to beat her; he would cuff her. I remember this one time we were sleeping – this was after he had an affair with a woman – he would beat her because she would start throwing remarks (about the affair) at him and things like that. He used to punch her in her face. This one time he even went to buss her head in front us,” she recounted.
In 2019, Speede finally got the courage to leave her husband behind with the help of her sisters.
Kezia recounted that her mother was financially dependent on her father so she endured the abuse. However, in August of 2019 her aunts pitched in and got Speede the finance to be able to stand on her own feet. She packed up her children and then moved to her sister’s, Kellyann’s, home and shortly after rented an apartment in the West Indian Housing Scheme in Bartica where they lived.
March 27, 2020
March 27, 2020, was somewhat of a normal day for Speede and her children. Her son was over by his father and Kezia was home with her. They spent some of the day in bed together and then about 11:00h, Orrin called and asked if they wanted to “go for a drive” but Kezia refused and they stayed home and slept more.
During the course of the day, Speede told her daughter that she had a bad dream but refused to divulge the details.
“I asked her if she prayed and she was praying all day,” she remembered.
Later in the day, Kezia and her mother got out of bed after Kellyann called to remind them of the scheduled photoshoot to celebrate her son’s second birthday. They got dressed and called Orrin to tell him to get Oriel ready.
“We got dressed and she looked at me like kinda puzzled, like worried and I was like ‘mommy you alright’ and she was like ‘I’m alright’ and she was like we gotta get somebody to take us. I was like ‘call one of your brothers’ and she was like ‘man they don’t wanna come for us’ and I was like ‘call a taxi’ and she was like ‘is best you call your father.’ I was like ‘no man, don’t call him’ and she was like ‘yeah’ and I was like ‘you sure?’ and she told him to get my brother ready for the photoshoot. He came and picked us up and told us that he has to go collect some money from some man that he sold one of his tools to,” she said.
They told Orrin that he should drop them to the photoshoot but he insisted that they collect the money before he dropped them off. He drove all the way to Five Miles in the vicinity of the Airstrip and into a track where no one lived.
“I remember asking him ‘daddy where this man living because I don’t know anybody living here’. He was like ‘just now we gon reach man, don’t worry.’ He drove into the track and I remember seeing just bushes, he came out the car and was like ‘yo, yo’ hard and then he opened the trunk,” the still grieving teenager remembered.
After he opened the trunk, Orrin made his way to the passenger side of the car and opened to door to the seat where Speede was sitting. He immediately began firing chops at her and dragged her out of the car where he continued chopping her.
Kezia, Oriel and her two young cousins were also in the vehicle and she rushed out to attempt to save her mother.
“I remember running around to push him away and him and I actually tumbled because I think if I didn’t push him off, she would have sustained more injuries. After that I told my brother and my two cousins let’s run and I remember running out of the track with them and this man on a bicycle came and asked what happened.
“My brother had a phone and he made a call to the Police and they thought we were playing I guess and they took a while to get there. I kept asking if they were coming. Half hour passed and the Police didn’t come. It was getting dark, late. We were sitting cold, trembling with blood all over us and they didn’t come. I called my uncle and he and my cousins came before the Police and when my aunt came to collect us then I saw the Police on our way leaving,” the teenager recounted.
After they fled from the scene, Kezia did not go back to see whether her mother survived or not. They were too terrified to do so and ever since they have been trying to cope with the gravity of their loss.
For the first few months, Kezia and her brother could not sleep because every time they closed their eyes, the vision of their mother being hacked came flooding back.
“For the first few months my brother and I couldn’t sleep. We were in a deep state of depression, we had anxiety. It was hard coping. I remember asking myself is it still worth living? It was really hard because [I was] not getting to sleep, not eating as well. I was weak,” she said.
As a coping mechanism, Kezia enrolled into the University of Guyana’s Social Work programme to get qualified as a social worker. She wants to be able to use her experiences to change the world for the betterment of women – particularly in abusive relationships.
However, with the lack of a stable financial backing, she is currently struggling to make ends meet. While her aunts would assist, they also have families to raise. She is hopeful that she would be able to secure a scholarship to further her studies.
Kellyann said that it was her sister’s kind nature that led to her murder because had she not cared about Orrin after the abuse started then she may have still been alive.
Speede was Kellyann’s eldest sibling and after their mother died in 2001, at just 17, she took the reins and began raising them.
She remembered that her sister and Orrin met back in high school and ever since he had been extremely possessive.
“She couldn’t get a proper job, she couldn’t work, he used to just mark she. She was isolated from her friends and family. Eventually, she couldn’t take his miserable ways and when like he don’t have money and things ain’t working out for he, he would take out the spite on the children them and beating them up and telling them all kinds of things and she couldn’t take it anymore,” she said.
Kellyann related that when her sister moved out, Orrin took her to the Police and accused her of taking away the children in an effort to pressure her to return home. However, she did not cave and instead informed the Police of his actions.
She said that her sister got a job as a teacher at a private school and was becoming independent but Orrin did not like that because he felt less needed.
Kellyann clarified that it was her son’s birthday photoshoot that was happening and not Speede’s son.
“It is very difficult for us to deal with her death. The children had sleepless nights for many months straight. They are better than before but for like three or four months they couldn’t sleep because they were getting flashbacks and so on. He buss up his daughter face and so on.
“I would advise anyone to run, it ain’t get no good out of it. Don’t sit and wait and hope that one day the man will change because this is what women do. A person got to want to change. He can’t change before you want him to change, and run from the first time. Don’t wait for it to happen because you thinking it only one time or two time and next thing you know, you dead.”