After almost a decade on the run, a thirty-five year-old mason of Tuschen Housing Scheme, East Bank Essequibo was on Thursday morning arraigned before Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan where he was charged with the capital offence of murder.
The charge stated that Sylvester Vanderhyden on November 5, 2008, at Agricola East Bank Demerara, murdered Melissa Angela Payne.
According to reports, the twenty-seven-year-old woman was fatally shot after she attempted to put up a fight with gunmen who carried out a brazen attack on her and a male companion on the fateful day, around 8:30am as the couple were making their way to Georgetown.
The pair had encountered mechanical problems and had exited the canter truck in which they were travelling when they were accosted by several armed men who relieved them of a bag containing some $110,000 cash along with a quantity of jewelry.
It was during the woman’s reluctance to hand over her hand bag that she was shot by one of the perpetrators, the men thereafter made good their escape.
Payne’s companion who was named as David Fraser reported flagging down a motorist who transported the bleeding woman to the hospital where she was pronounced dead on arrival.
News of the woman’s death sent shock waves throughout the Den Amstel, West Coast Demerara, community of the deceased. Fraser was hospitalized, shortly after the incident, he suffered a heart attack when the gruesome reality finally hit him.
A few days after the incident, several men were arrested and Jermine Savory of Agricola East Bank Demerara was charged with the murder of Payne after he allegedly cracked under pressure and admitted to his involvement in the crime. Savory however, denied ever firing the lethal shot at the woman.
The accused also known as “Ja Ja” was jointly charged with several other high profile inmates including two suspects in the Bartica and Lusignan massacres in early 2009, for attempting a daring jailbreak on the dawn of December 28, 2008 at the local Camp Street Penitentiary.
The master plan was nonetheless thwarted by the quick response of prison authorities along with the Joint Services, ultimately leading to their apprehension.
The circumstances surrounding the recent arrest of Vanderhyden remains sketchy, and he was not required to plead to the indictable charge when it was read to him by the Chief Magistrate. The unrepresented man was remanded to prison until May 10, when the matter is expected to continue at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts.