Diaspora

US missionary killed in Haiti and four-year-old child snatched by gunmen – The Independent

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Roberta Edwards had been working with impoverished familiea in Haiti for two decades
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Police in Haiti are searching for the gunmen suspected of killing a US missionary and snatching the four-year-old boy she had raised in a children’s home.
Officials said Roberta Edwards ran the home in Port-au-Prince and had cared for the youngster, Jonathan Paul, who was nicknamed JoJo, since he was brought their as a malnourished infant. Ms Edwards, originally from Tennessee, had lived in Haiti for the past two decades and had witnessed the country confront many difficult times.
“Roberta was remarkable. She had an unwavering love of God, her children and the people of Haiti,” Jesse Robertson, minister at Estes Church of Christ in Henderson, Tennessee, which which Ms Edwards was connected. “We are absolutely devastated by her loss.”
The Associated Press said Ms Edwards was killed over the weekend by two gunmen who cut off her car as she was returning home from a petrol station. Two teenage passengers in her vehicle managed to escape, but the gunmen sped off with the little boy.
The motive behind the killing and apparent kidnapping remains unclear. Authorities say there was no ransom demand as of Wednesday afternoon.
Haitian National Police spokesman Frantz Lerebours said the attackers also kidnapped a the four-year-old child, after her car was fired on at close range in the Croix-des-Bouquets district.
“Investigators are working to find the killers and the kidnapped child,” he said.
Ms Edwards had run the Sonlight Children’s Home since 2002 and directed a centre that provided two meals a day, five days a week, to 160 poor youngsters, who also received funding for school fees.
Ms Edwards was originally from North Carolina, but she had a home in Henderson and regularly returned to the United States from her Haiti base. She had once been married to a Haitian man. Her family was on Wednesday unavailable for comment.
Burt Nowers, president of the Healing Hands International religious group in Nashville, said Ms Edwards was well aware of the challenges of working in Haiti’s capital and owned a handgun for protection.
“She knew it was a dangerous place and she took precautions. It just didn’t work out for her this time,” he said.
In May 2014, another U.S. missionary was stabbed to death in Haiti’s capital. George Knoop, a 77-year-old elder with the Quisqueya Chapel in Haiti, was attacked inside his rental home and a computer was apparently stolen during the attack.
The attack comes as Haiti is preparing for a presidential election after months of political turmoil. The first round of voting to replace outgoing President Michel Martelly is due to be held on October 25.
Reports suggest that with none of the 54 presidential candidates likely to dominate voting, this month’s election is expected to force the two highest vote-getters into a December 27 run off.
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