WASHINGTON/PORT AU PRINCE, HAITI - Obed Joseph, a soft-spoken, slight young man, has confessed to orchestrating the kidnapping and killing of his girlfriend, high school senior Evelyne Sincere.
Haitian National Police assistant spokesman, Inspector Garry Desrosiers, introduced the alleged killer and his two accomplices at a press conference Monday in Port-au-Prince. They were arrested in a sting operation involving multiple law enforcement entities.
During the press conference, reporters were allowed to question the suspects. Standing next to Obed, 24, who was captured last week by the notorious gang leader “Barbecue” and turned over to police, were brothers Michel Dorestan, 23, and Eval Dorestan, 28. The three men are charged with kidnapping, homicide and rape.
Obed was repeatedly asked by reporters to speak up so they could hear him. He began by offering condolences to Sincere's family. He told reporters he met the 22-year-old on Facebook two years ago and confirmed they had been romantically involved. According to Obed, the plot to kidnap Sincere was hatched with the two brothers and discussed for a month before they finally decided to act.
Sincere's killing has sparked outrage among Haitians worldwide and triggered a series of large street protests, the most recent one held on Monday. Students were joined by teachers and parents to demand justice for the slain student who is described by those who knew her as a happy soul with a dynamic personality.
"Evelyne was more than a family member, more than a mother, a sister, and they took her away from us. Our hopes have been dashed," one of her schoolmates at the Lycee Jacques Roumain told VOA Creole.
Haitian President Jovenel Moise was quick to condemn the murder on his official Twitter account and called for law enforcement to swiftly bring those responsible to justice. High-profile Haitian celebrities in the sports and music world also condemned the crime on their social media platforms.
Desrosiers said before being killed, Sincere was sexually assaulted — contradicting claims made by Obed.
"With regards to the rape charge, when we examined the body — which was found nude — we saw evidence that she had been sexually assaulted," Desrosiers said.
The suspects spoke in a matter-of-fact manner as they recounted how the victim was killed and argued amongst themselves about who had done what. They said Sincere was held at the brothers' home in the Nazon neighborhood of Port-au-Prince for three days. They demanded that her family pay a $15,000 ransom.
According to Desrosiers, Obed confessed to initially attempting to strangle Sincere and when that failed, he said Michel tried to suffocate her by putting a pillow over her head. When those attempts failed, Eval Dorestan gave her a liquid concoction containing rat poison and marijuana to drink. They put the body in a metal drum to transport it, the inspector said, then disposed of it at a garbage dump.
"This is a tragic crime which has affected all of us at the police department," Desrosiers told reporters.
The suspects never explained why they targeted Sincere. Asked if he felt any remorse, Obed told reporters, "The guilt is so atrocious I can't even describe it."
As for what his punishment should be, Obed had no response.
"The word sorry is not adequate enough. I want the world to know I am so sorry. To everyone who never believed I could commit such a crime, I apologize," he said.
Kidnappings have terrorized Haiti for many years, targeting the wealthy and demanding ransoms of up to $100,000. What has further unsettled Haitians is that the kidnappers now target residents of the poorest neighborhoods.