(TRINIDAD EXPRESS) – To his family, Barry Choon was a kind and gentle man who loved his children more than life.
But the 35-year-old doubles vendor shattered that image on Friday when he was found dead in a vehicle with his wife, Shalini Sookdeo-Choon, and their two young children.
Police believe Choon slaughtered his 29-year-old wife and seven-year-old daughter, Sarah, by slitting their throats. He then turned the weapon on himself, slicing his own throat.
Seven-month-old Jacob may have suffocated inside the vehicle, police said.
Investigators are treating the case as a triple murder/suicide. But the couple’s relatives are not convinced. The Express visited the family’s home at Welcome Road, Cunupia on Saturday.
A male relative said the family was too distraught to speak about the incident. He said, however, the couple had been married for eight years.
“I don’t know about any problems they had. They worked together and raised their children well. They seemed happy to everyone around them. Barry loved his children very much.
So we do not know if that is what really happened. The family wants to wait until the autopsies are done on Monday and then we would speak about them,” he said.
The relative said Choon and his wife prepared doubles and went to work as usual on Thursday morning. The children were cared for by Sookdeo-Choon’s parents who lived at the same house.
The male relative said, “On Thursday afternoon the four of them left in the car. They said they were going to Barry’s sister’s house at Brickfield in Carapichaima. But they never went there. The police came here on Friday afternoon and told us they were all found dead in the car in Toco.”
He said the family was shocked by the news. “We never, never expected this to happen. There were no signs. We all thought they were good together,” he said.
The Express also visited Choon’s family at Second Street, California.
Neighbours expressed horror by the news and described him as a “good man”.One neighbour said, “He grew up right here and he was always good to me. This is so sad. I feel hurt for those two innocent children. I can’t imagine what was going through his head to drive him to do something like that.”
Choon’s sister, Wendy Harrynath, said she last spoke to her brother on Thursday evening.
Harrynath said she would call her brother every day to check on him.
“He answered the phone at around 6pm but he didn’t say where they were going. He said he finished selling doubles and was going home now. I asked him if everything was okay and he said yes,” she said.
But, Harrynath said, she knew something was wrong with her brother.
“I visited him on Sunday and he looked disturbed. His wife also looked disturbed. I could not figure out what was going on but I know they were pretending to talk and laugh with us so we would not know. But I know every married couple has ups and downs and they were no different. I wish he would have confided in someone. We were all very close,” she said.
Harrynath said her family learned of the deaths on the 7pm newscast. She contacted the Choons who confirmed that her brother, sister-in-law and the two children were dead.
“But I am also waiting on the autopsies to confirm what really happened. Everyone is asking what is the motive. But we have no clue,” she said.
Police said residents of Hamburg Trace observed the vehicle parked near a mango tree at around 1pm on Friday.
By 3pm the vehicle had not moved and a resident looked inside the white Nissan AD wagon and made the discovery.
Little Sarah was slumped in the front passenger seat. Sookdeo-Choon was still holding baby Jacob in her arms in the back seat.
Toco police was contacted and officers broke the windows to get to the bodies. Both families say they were left with many unanswered questions.
And police are now searching for answers to explain what drove the father to murder his family before killing himself.
Autopsies would be performed at the Forensic Science Centre in St James on Monday.