Sixteen years after her son disappeared during her birthday outing at Roaring River beach in St Ann, businesswoman Janette Hardie continues to search for closure – the best of which would be to find her son alive and well.
She said public and private investigators, as well as residents, have searched extensively on sea and land, but they have found no trace.
Hardie however remains convinced that her son Rojay Romario King, who was five years old at the time he went missing, was kidnapped and perhaps sent overseas – possibly to the United Kingdom.
“I never lost hope,” she told The Jamaica Beacon; her tone filled with the dolefulness that usually accompanies her recollection of the ordeal she experienced on a fateful Sunday afternoon, March 10, 2002.
“My son was playing in the sand at the beach. I got an anonymous phone call, and I was saying ‘hello hello’ and couldn’t hear anything. So I walked away [from where I was watching my son] in trying to hear the phone clearer. Within five minutes the most, I turned around looking for my son. He was not there,” Hardie said.
She had a nervous breakdown and ended up being admitted to hospital a few hours after she realized that her son was missing.
She also became suicidal.
“I wanted to die then, and I was even on suicide watch. But I want to live now, because living and getting my son would make me feel like I have lived my life to the fullest.”
“The fact is that I don’t have any closure… I still am unable to look at pictures of him; I still have bits and pieces of his clothes; I still have his birth paper. I mean, he is still a part of my family. My heart is broken; it is ripped,” Hardie further said.
She declared that she would forgive anyone who probably kidnapped her son, adding that she does not blame herself for the disappearance of her child.
“I don’t blame myself because it’s not like I left my son with somebody; I was right there with him on the beach when he disappeared.”
“I would forgive whoever took my son. All I would want to know is that I could reunite with him… I would not press charge; I would not argue; I would just want my child to know that his mother is alive,” added the businesswoman, who also promised a monetary reward for any information that can lead to her son’s return.
“I would give a million dollars or more to find my child. Money doesn’t mean anything to me more than my happiness,” she asserted.
Hardie already spent an exorbitant sum – a portion of which she said has been gobbled up by scammers, including police officers.
“I faced further depression because persons would scam me – like ask me to send a $3000 credit because they saw my son and things like that. Even police told me they saw the child and I gave them money to rent car and all crap, and it was all just a scam. Those things did more damage to me mentally than helping,” she continued.
“I want to see my child – not for someone to scam me like what has been happening over the years.”
Hardie further stated that the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) had questioned a male suspect in relation to the disappearance of her son, but that person was never charged.
“Because of lack of evidence or whatever, that investigation didn’t get anywhere. Since that time, it has just been follow-ups. The last time I spoke with the investigating officer, he said it’s at INTERPOL. It has always been just the same thing over and over regarding the investigation.”
Hardie said some persons have pointed fingers at the child’s father, who was living in the United States at the time of the disappearance. He is now living in Jamaica again. The police have never questioned him about the incident, and Hardie does not think he is a suspect.
“I broke up with him when I was five months pregnant. He didn’t have any bond with the child; and you would not take a child with whom you had no bond. Persons would say they suspected him, but I never suspected him,” she told The Jamaica Beacon.
Hardie, who is married to another man and is active in the church, has given birth to a second child. But she still augers hope that she will find her firstborn and make up for the missing years.
“My son is a big man now, and I expect him to feel not himself and to try to find me. My faith is still 100 percent,” Hardie added.
“The last thing I remember before I passed out when my son went missing is that a gentleman came to me from the sea and said ‘look elsewhere for your son because he is not in the water; he could not have disappeared so quick; he could not have drowned’. I still believe my son is alive.”
Hardie stated that her son, who was enrolled at St Ann’s Bay Infant School at the time he went missing, loved the beach and was popular.
“He was a friendly, sweet boy,” she said. “He was a popular child because, as a businessperson, people know me. My child is a child who was loved. I was a single mother; I was living for him. If I find my son today and I die tomorrow, I would say ‘thank you Jesus; my life has been completed’.”
– Horace Mills