Profile of a killer

News post December 29, 2015

 Contrasting picture of ex-soldier who killed girlfriend, self
 Verona Clarke is photographed in the store where she worked hours before she was murdered.

THE ex-soldier who murdered his girlfriend at a day-care this month before killing himself appeared to have struggled with a mental condition throughout his life.

Sidney Brown, the Jamaica Observer was told, started displaying signs of mental problems while attending primary school, but instead of being taken to see a doctor, the man who raised him admitted taking him to a ‘healer’ to remedy his condition. Brown’s most prominent breakdown before the murder-suicide, saw him leaving Up Park Camp in Kingston to Linstead where he sat by a river all day threatening to kill himself. This was before he left the army in 2010.  The Observer was told also that the woman who Brown killed often relayed how he would sit in the house, just staring blankly. Brown, 36, shot 33-year-old Verona Clarke dead in front their two-year-old child at a day-care in Linstead, St Catherine, on December 17, before turning the gun on himself. Along with the two-year-old boy, Clarke died leaving an 11-year-old son from a previous relationship. Brown is survived by his estranged wife and an 11-year-old daughter. Brown and Clarke had been in a relationship for four years before the murder-suicide. Clarke was killed a week after breaking off the relationship with Brown for a second time. In the wake of the incident, Clarke’s mother and friends described Brown as a jealous and controlling man, who at one point frowned upon Clarke’s social media use and forbade her from associating with other men. But last week, Brown’s co-workers at Guardsman security company told the Observer that the murder-suicide was shocking, and said that wasn’t the man they knew. “He loved his sons. He’s always talking about his sons,” said a female colleague, who declined to give her name. “He never seemed sad or depressed so I don’t know how that happened. You never have a dull moment with him — never a dull moment. He’s always jovial,” she added. Another said: “That’s not the Sidney we knew. He was a good person… always a fun person to be around. What he displayed to us is that he loved his baby mother and her son. It’s just sad the way he dealt with it. It’s not that we condone what he did, but it’s just a disgust to see how people view him.” But even as Brown’s action left many struggling to understand what may have triggered his deadly outburst, a picture of a man contending with a mental condition from as early as his pre-teen years took shape. Edwin Wallace, the man who raised Brown in the West Prospect community of Bog Walk, St Catherine, told the Observer that one day during Brown’s final year at primary school he came home acting strangely. Wallace, who was married to Brown’s grand aunt, took the young Brown for non-medical treatment, saying that the mother of another child at his school “obeah him” because he was selected to go to Dinthill Technical High School. Wallace also outlined another incident in which he said Brown “get sick” while in the army and went to the river at Jew Pen, in Bog Walk, where he sat all day “talking to himself and saying that him was going to kill himself”. Wallace said Brown’s wife went to get him at the river the following day and took him to a doctor. Wallace said this was another example of people working witchcraft on Brown, while giving no regard to the possibility that Brown may have been suffering from a mental condition. “Well, some people don’t believe, but I do, and I think what happen is that when him in [the army] somebody lick after him,” Wallace said. A mutual friend of Brown and Clarke’s from West Prospect told the Observer of a worrying period, about three years ago. According to the woman, Clarke called her on numerous occasions to “come talk to” Brown because he didn’t want to leave the house for work. “Him just sit down looking out a space, just sitting in the house,” the friend said. “But,” Wallace interjected, “mi sure that him recover that sickness; mi sure of that. Him recover from that completely and go back a work and everything.” Brown and the Jamaica Defence Force are said to have parted ways in around 2010 because he failed the swim and the basic fitness tests. Multiple sources said that Brown, who was a corporal, had suffered from depression throughout his service. The army didn’t respond to Observer queries about Brown.

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