Trinidad and Tobago netizens woke up to the disconcerting news last Saturday morning that veteran journalist and television presenter Marcia Henville died in a fire at her home in east Trinidad. Speculation that there had been foul play took root early on, thanks to reports of “loud arguments […] coming from her third floor apartment” shortly before an explosion that supposedly started the blaze.
Late yesterday, the autopsy results confirmed that Henville was murdered – the cause of death was determined to be blunt force trauma and multiple stab wounds. As the nation transitioned from shock to anger, public attention has been focusing on the police investigation. The main person of interest appears to be Henville's husband, who escaped from the fire with first degree burns and is now warded at hospital. Some news reports said that her husband has insisted there were no domestic issues, while others claimed that the relationship was “difficult”.
On Facebook, many netizens expressed sadness over the violent way in which Henville died. They thought it particularly tragic considering that she dedicated much of her professional life to helping the downtrodden and disenfranchised, boldly venturing into “hotspot areas” rife with drugs and gang warfare in order to give voice to the voiceless. Point Blank, the social issues show Henville produced and presented on a local television station, was known for its relentless pursuit of justice for the downtrodden.
On Twitter, distressed netizens paid tribute to her life and work:
— Danna (@dannanekeisha) January 24, 2015
Oh my goodness !!! She was always so encouraging to me,passionate about her work and really had to heart to help others#RIP #MarciaHenville.
— Achsah Gulston (@AGulstonTV6) January 24, 2015
The CCN television network, which broadcasted Henville's show, tweeted this statement from the country's Prime Minister:
PM: #MarciaHenville was known for her fearless pursuit of the truth, and the nation has lost a talented and dedicated journalist
— CCN TV6 (@tv6tnt) January 24, 2015
Twitter user Edward Charles agreed:
— Edward Charles (@Edd_Boi) January 24, 2015
Others mourned the loss of a friend, colleague and journalist:
— Carlene de Bourg (@TriniBoogie) January 26, 2015
— Nahshon Jaffier (@NahshonJaffier) January 26, 2015
Even before the autopsy results were made public, some social media users wondered whether Henville's determination to highlight tough issues was somehow connected to her death:
— YourCaribbeanGirl ♕ (@_Sach92) January 24, 2015
— Mauricia Ann Atkins (@MauriciaAnn) January 24, 2015
Once it was confirmed that Henville was indeed murdered, the tone in the blogosphere began to change, particularly among people who knew Henville personally and for whom the murder hit close to home. On Facebook, Dion Boucaud said:
Although I suspected this, it does not dampen the shock. What hurts me the most is that someone like Marcia who puts themselves out there to fight for the less fortunate, puts others before themselves, deserves to die with a degree of dignity. Marcia was denied that opportunity. WE the country have been robbed of a selfless spirit who, although not born here, made this country her home and vigarously [sic] fought for the right of those less fortunate to be heard. She sought justice for all and to have her life end in this way was never how it should have been. I am beyond angered by this and my pain is magnified beyond the news that Saturday brought. I have no more words, only tears and hate.
Artist Darren Cheewah created this illustration in honour of Henville, based on an original photograph by Damian Luk Pat, which is being widely circulated on social media:
A former colleague at Gayelle TV, a community television station that sought to highlight all things Trinbagonian – from art and culture to social ills – posted on Facebook that the station would be honouring Henville on air last night:
If you liked, loved, respected, knew, were close to…Marcia Henville – We welcome you.
Come to our studio…and share your story.
This sharing of memories of the inimitable Marcia Henville is what has been comforting her friends, fans and colleagues in their grief. As a film producer, Henville had been working on a film called Trafficked, about the drug trade in Trinidad and Tobago. She had a good working relationship with the film's writer and director, Sean Hodgkinson, starring as Meredith James in Hodgkinson's two previous films, A Story About Wendy, and its sequel. The cast and crew posted their condolences on the film's Facebook page:
Team Wendy is shocked and saddened by the devastating news of Marcia Henville's passing.
There are no words to describe the irreparable loss of one of our family members,
We wish to remember Marcia's kindness, empathy, talent, spunk, professionalism, enthusiasm and love.
She will forever be in our hearts.
Catherine Emmanuel, who acted opposite Henville in the Wendy films, remembered her for her natural acting ability and genuine interest in people. “She was such a strong woman,” Emmanuel said, “always concerned about others, colourful and lively. She was a great listener. Marcia didn't deserve to die like that; she cared too much about other people – whether you were black, white, rich, poor, it didn't matter to her. I'll miss her wonderful voice. I always thought she was a woman for everyone. She loved life, but more than that, she was life.”
Funeral arrangements for Marcia Henville are still to be announced.