A relatively large number of people attended the funeral of Markland Hayles, also called ‘CJ’, who police said hanged himself a day after murdering his pregnant girlfriend at Rhoden Hall near Kellits in Clarendon Northern.
Persons in attendance included Member of Parliament (MP) for Clarendon Northern Dwight Sibbles, as well as Pastor V. McKay who implored young people in earshot to avoid dying in sin.
“It is not important how we come here [into the world], but it is important the way we leave here,” the clergyman said while delivering his sermon under a tent in the rural Clarendon family plot.
He added: “It is so sad to see so many of our young people dying without Christ… If CJ did know he was going to die, he would give his life to the Lord because I don’t think he would want to go to hell… There will be no AC in hell; there is gonna be no Heineken and Red Stripe in hell; there is gonna be no party in hell.”
Pastor McKay also lamented that ‘the spirit of murder’ seems to be unleashed on the earth, adding that people have become desensitized to death and are now even referring to each other as ‘dawg’.
“The heart of man now is desperately wicked; the fear of God has left the earth,” said the clergyman, who threw out a challenge for leaders to help ‘save’ the island’s young people.
“It is time for us now even as leaders to take a time-out and find ourselves on the corner where these young men and young girls are hanging out to talk to them, and encourage them to God,” he added. “We must use up this time to save a young man, to save a young girl, to save an old man and an old lady.”
In the meantime, the MP, Sibblies, said the late Hayles was among the first persons who supported his successful election bid, running on the ticket of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP).
“Today is a sad day,” he said in a tribute at the August 9 funeral. “CJ, as we know him, joined my campaign very very early, long before most people joined the campaign. He believed in the change and he believed in what Northern Clarendon need for the youth.”
Sibblies described the tragic turn of events as shocking.
“The circumstances of CJ’s death and all that comes with it is shocking. It is something that no one can fathom, and I could stay here the entire day and describe what kind of person CJ was… You all know him to be quiet; you all know him to be unassuming; you all know him to be kind…”
The parliamentarian also encouraged people to comfort the bereaved family.
“Let’s not spend too many time pointing fingers; let’s not spend too many time causing accusation. Let us spent the time and pray up the family, comfort them,” he said.
Another JLP member, Noel Nembhard, who is also councillor for the Kellits Division, was scheduled to deliver a tribute, but he did not show up.
Beverly Huthinson, who told the gathering that the councillor was absent due to ‘circumstances beyond his control’, sang on his behalf.
Hutchinson also delivered the eulogy.
In doing that, she said: “CJ was a quiet, humble and mannerable child. He was loved by his parents, family and friends.”
Hutchinson added that Hayles died leaving his parents, as well as two brothers and two sisters behind.
He attended Staceyville Primary School in Clarendon.
After sitting the Grade Six Achievement Test, Hayles was placed at Claude McKay High School where he spent five years.
He later started working with different farmers in his Mason River community.
Hayles eventually enrolled at Kellits Skills Training Centre, specializing in Food and Nutrition. “Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, he had to stop and return to farming,” Hutchinson noted.
She added that, during the pandemic, Hayles also spent a relatively short time in St. Mary with relatives and friends before he returned home and resumed farming.
According to her, no one was prepared for the tragedy that unfolded on June 20.
On that day, 21-year-old Tashieka McKay, who was eight months pregnant, was found with her throat slashed in her bed at her Rhoden Hall home.
The police went to Hayles’ home at Mason River, and eventually took him into custody.
The Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) explained that the police took Hayles to the May Pen Criminal Investigations Branch where he confessed to killing his girlfriend.
The cops later took him to Lionel Town Police Station where he was placed in a quarantine cell by himself due to COVID-19 protocols, the JCF added.
It stated that, about mid-morning on the following day, Hayles was found hanging in his cell with a piece of clothing around his neck.
At the funeral, some of Hayles’ relatives were heard suggesting that their loved-one did not commit suicide, but was killed in his cell.
Hayles’ mother, Claire Bailey, during the funeral, sang a rendition of ‘Missing You’ by American singer Brandy.
A number of other bereaved relatives wore T-Shirts bearing the deceased man’s image. His photograph and name were also emblazoned on the white casket, which was embellished mainly with purple flowers.
As rain poured at the end of the ceremony, a band at the location fed the crowd on high-energy songs.
But the mood swiftly changed to one of grief as pall bearers, immediately after the rain, placed the casket into a blue-and-white tomb.
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