In the late 1960‘s, the well known and brilliant lawyer, the late Sir Lionel Luckhoo, used to host his weekly program on famous court trials which was broadcasted over Radio Demerara. I was just a young boy when this horrific murder of an innocent young girl took place on the outskirt of New Amsterdam and I could still recall bits and pieces. This is one of the most gruesome cases that Sir Lionel discussed on his program and all the accused in this trial were followers of a religious sect known as the Jordanites.
The year 1950 dawned with the despicable murder of a young girl in an obeah ritual in Stantleytown a suburb of New Amsterdam, Berbice. It was alleged that Kathleen Fullerton, a housewife, had a dream that she would get rich from Dutch gold buried in her yard and the spot would be revealed to her if she sacrificed a child. She discussed the dream with her spiritualist brother, Eric Benfield, who planned the sacrifice. The family organized a feast with music, liquor and dancing at their home in Stanleytown. First, they try to a procure a young boy to become the human sacrifice but Eric Benfield’s reputed wife, Dorothy Brutus, was not in favour of this nefarious plan and encouraged the boy to abscond.
Eric Benfield enraged at this set back made several attempts to procure other boys but without success. Time was running out and in desperation he enticed his neighbour’s six year old daughter, Lilawattie, to his feast and prepared her for the ultimate sacrifice.
Doolarie the mother of Lilawattie missed her child and after making frantic searches reported to the police who advised her to make another search and report the results the following morning.
Meanwhile, residents became suspicious of the weird happening at the Benfield’s house and demanded that they be allowed access to search for the missing child. Eric Benfield retaliated with abuses while his brother in law Jermiah Fullerton stood guard at the entrance of the yard with an axe. It was during this time Eric Benfield was seen to convey a bundle towards an outside pit latrine in the backyard.
Next morning a police search party found the body of the strangled child at the bottom of the latrine pit in the backyard.
Kathleen Fullerton, her husband Jermiah Fullerton, her brother Eric Benfield and reputed wife Dorothy Brutus were all charged for the murder of Lilawattie and put on trial in the Supreme court in New Amsterdam. The jury acquitted Dorothy Brutus but the other three accused were convicted for the child’s murder and sentenced to death by hanging. Despite an appeal and petition to the then Governor, the three were hanged in October 1950 at the Camp Street prison in Georgetown. Katherine Fullerton could have very well be first and only woman to be hanged in the then British Guiana.