Last Tuesday, the Church in Jamaica was waiting to hear whether a decomposing body found by police was that of missing retired priest Fr Charles Brown.
The body was found on a “back road” off the Mandela Highway that leads to Plantation Heights in St Andrew, said Superintendent Delroy Hewitt, divisional commander for St Andrew South.
“We believe it’s him. The body is in an advanced state of decomposition so we can’t confirm his identity as yet,” said Hewitt. “But based on his central features — the clothes that he was wearing — we believe that it is him.”
Hewitt added that autopsy and forensic examinations would be carried out on the corpse to determine its true identity.
Police said Fr Brown, 71, was last seen on July 24 wearing a multi-coloured short-sleeve shirt, blue pants and a pair of black shoes. His vehicle was subsequently found on the same road which leads to Plantation Heights.
Up to press time on Tuesday, two men had been taken into custody in connection with Fr Brown’s abduction, and investigators were seeking a third individual.
Fr Brown was living at Villa Vianney – a facility operated by the Church for retired priests.
When he learned that Fr Brown was missing, Archbishop Joseph Harris had written Archbishop of Kingston Charles Henry Dufour, assuring him of the prayers of the Archdiocese of Port of Spain at “this very troubling moment”.
According to a story in the Jamaica Gleaner, Fr Brown devoted his spare time to nurturing young people in the community, even though he was retired. But he was a no-nonsense man who knew danger and how to avoid it. He knew how to deal with people.
That’s how Fr Thomas Dynetius, with whom Fr Brown had a close working relationship, described him.
The day he disappeared he had celebrated Mass at Christ the Redeemer Human Resource Centre in Seaview Gardens in St Andrew, a community with which he had developed an intimate attachment over the past three months.
“He’s a very generous man in terms of giving his time, talent, pleasure to the people, very compassionate, very down to earth and real. So if there are people in need, he will actively try to help them out,” said Fr Dynetius.
Responding to the news that an unidentified body had been discovered, Fr Donald Chambers, Vicar of Administration in the Archdiocese of Kingston, said: “Obviously, we are saddened if it is his body, and number two, we are happy that if it is his body, he has been found, and so it’s a mixed feeling on the part of the Church.”