There are no statues to the many innocents, who have died at the hands of predators, pedophiles and domestic brutalisers. There are no memorial days. There are no annual minute silences. Statues in The Bahamas are for political leaders and national heroes. No roads or highways are named after those, whose lives are cut tragically short, and whose innocence is snatched away, along with, their very existence.
Murder takes minutes. Often, mere seconds. After a murder happens, the clock begins.
As the clock ticks away, as the hours, days, years, and sometimes, a lifetime ticks away, an incredible amount of human energy and mental ingenuity is then spent, trying to piece together, what happened, in mere moments.
Murderers begin the process of concocting lies and alibis.
Police begin long investigations and evidence gathering.
Lawyers begin their defence or prosecution.
The dead… well… the dead, lie silent in the grave.
The murder of a girl in 1967, should have shocked the nation for a generation, but didn’t.
Facts of the case: SATURDAY morning 3rd JUNE, 1967
The victim – 14 year-old Teresita (Teresetta) McGregor, cousin of the accused.
The accused – 23 year-old, Joseph Darling, waiter at local hotel.
Crime scene: Small wooden two bedroom house, off Wulff Road, with outside toilet, owned by Leon Darling, brother of accused Joseph Darling. There were four rooms in total in the house.
Occupants: In the house lived Leon Darling, Joseph Darling and their sister Elnorah (Elnore) Darling who had a two year old child (daughter). The two year old child was at home during the rape and murder. Leon and Joseph slept in the front bedroom. The sister, her two year baby girl and Teresita McGregor, who was visiting just five days, slept in the back bedroom together.
Leon Darling left home at 6:45 a.m to go to work. Came home at 11:00 am. By 11:00 a.m, the police had been at the crime scene for 5 minutes.
Elnore Darling (sister of accused) left the house around the same time as brother Leon Darling. This left accused Joseph Darling, the two year old baby and Teresita ALONE in the four room wooden house from shortly before/after 7:30 a.m.
Joseph Darling (the accused) said he left the house at 8:00 a.m. and returned at 10:00. He was the first to find the body. Joseph Darling then called a neighbor over to see the body which was clearly visible from the door. Darling then went to a neighbor’s house to telephone the police. Police arrive at 10:55 a.m.
The neighbor, Lucille McDonald, had loaned the hatchet to Elnorah Darling, sister of the accused Joseph Darling, some days prior. McDonald testified that Joseph Darling came home that morning. His sister’s two year old baby was sitting on the step outside the door alone and unattended. Joseph Darling gave the baby girl a piece of bread. Darling then went inside the house and quickly came back out, calling Lucille McDonald, the neighbor, over to see Teresita’s body. He then asked her “Who did that?”
Joseph Darling was left alone in the house with a sleeping Teresita and the sister’s two year old baby. Joseph Darling was the last person to see 14 year old Teresita alive, and the first person to see Teresita dead.
Coroner arrives 3 pm.
Bahamas in 1967 – Beginning of political vortex and blind eye Bahamian society
In 1967, politics began to ignore a lot of things, as race became the primary focus. A growing crime problem, in Nassau, and across the Islands, was one of these things being ignored. Crimes of violence and sexual violence towards women and children, were falling into an ‘ignore it and maybe it will go away’ type societal attitude.
The murder of Teresita McGregor was the THIRD murder trial for the July session of 1967.
Under the ‘Square Deal’ mandate of the new Progressive Liberal Party government of 1967, education, more Church, more job opportunities and better housing, were thought to be the cure to what ailed the Bahamian masses.
As history showed however, despite economic success, crime in The Bahamas, only escalated over the decades to come.
As the retrial of Joseph Darling for the rape and murder of Teresita McGregor, ended in January 1968, the body of a 13 year old, Sheila May Cambridge, was pulled out of the canal near Sea Breeze Estates.
In 1967, crime in The Bahamas continued unabated. Its import, the important lessons that were meant to learned faded into forget. Crime became like white noise, standing far behind, the tumultuous and nation changing politics of that year and the decades to come.
Archaic ideas of sexual development in girls. If she looked old enough, then she must be old enough.
Humans have no control, or sway, over the way nature matures their bodies. Bahamians in 1967, were still socially influenced by age old ideas of body development. For girls, in particular, outward body appearances or development, made them a target for predators in Bahamian society. Often it didn’t even take that. Many historical cases of rape were dismissed or had sentences reduced to fines because the girl appeared more developed than her actual age. Men relied on this defence in court.
1921 – BAHAMAS Supreme Court – Case of carnal knowledge of girl under 13 years old dismissed because examining doctor gave his opinion that the girl’s body was probably more 14 years old.
So it is little wonder that for murdered 14 year old Teresita McGregor, the way nature and her genes chose to mature her, was noted. The body, that she had no control over, in terms of natural human development, was said to have appeared older than her age.
Who was Teresita McGregor?
Next to nothing is known of 14-year-old Teresita McGregor, save for the horrifying details of her final moments in this life. Newspaper reports in 1967 carried no humanising information on a life cut short by a homicidal, predator maniac.
In 1967, 14-year-old Teresita McGregor of Blanket Sound, Andros, had only been in Nassau for five short days. On the morning of June 3, 1967, at approximately 9 a.m. she was raped, knocked unconscious and then hacked to death with a small hatchet.
The FIRST trial – Joseph Darling found guilty and sentenced to death for the rape and murder of Teresita McGregor
It would be testified to later in court that Teresita died from the injuries sustained from the hatchet. She was alive, barely, after the final hatchet blow, even though her murderer thought she was dead. Her killer had to rush out in order to establish his alibi of not being there at the horrific time. Despite 9 open wounds, she tried to cling to life.
Teresita was left to bleed out on the floor, which the pathologists said would have taken almost an hour.
The hatchet, it was later testified to, was used to supposedly prop open a wooden window, in the little two bedroom house where Teresita (Teresetta) was staying in while in Nassau.
After the murder, the killer, wrapped the hatchet in something. He hid it inside the outside toilet in the yard.
When the coroner arrived at the house to examine the naked body of the young teenager, found lying in a wide pool of her own blood, the first most horrifying injury was to her young face. Teresita’s killer had taken the hatchet to her face. A large gaping hole was present on one side where her cheek used to be. The blow exposed the jaw bone.
The SECOND trial – Joseph Darling found guilty and sentenced to death for the rape and murder of Teresita McGregor
Joseph Darling won the right to appeal his first conviction. A second trial was held in January 1968. He was convicted a second time and sentenced again to death.