BY FAINE RICHARDS
A Trinidad-born woman has gone missing in the United States, after going to a nightclub during the early morning hours of May 29.
Stepha Henry, a 22-year-old resident of New York, who migrated from Gasparillo to the US in 1990, was vacationing in Miami, Florida, for the Memorial Day holiday weekend.
Henry mysteriously disappeared just hours before she was due to return to New York.
She was last seen at Pepper’s Nightclub in Ft Lauderdale, Florida.
Images from security cameras at Pepper’s confirm that Henry did, indeed, make it to the club.
Now Henry’s family is asking the people of T&T to pray for her safe return.
“The main thing is that I would like all of Trinidad, all the praying people, we want their support as much as possible,” said Henry’s father, Steve, also Trinidad-born, in an exclusive interview via telephone yesterday from New York.
“We need their help as much as possible...We don’t have any leads or anything to go on.”
Henry, who recently graduated with top honours from John Jay Criminal Justice College in New York, travelled to Florida on May 24 with her younger sister.
The two stayed with their aunt Carletha Clarke, a Trinidad-born nurse who resides in Miami.
Just before 1 am on May 29, Clarke awoke to find Henry dressing to go to the club with friends.
In a telephone interview yesterday, Clarke recalled telling Henry that it was very late and she encouraged her niece to stay home because of her return flight the next day.
Clarke’s fears were allayed, however, when Henry revealed that her best friend’s brother-in-law would be taking her to the club.
“She knew him for more than nine years...she went to school with his girlfriend’s sister,” Clarke said.
“They limed together...he was not a stranger.”
Clarke recalled that a black, four-door Acura Integra came to pick up Henry at approximately 1 am.
She walked her niece to the car and confirms seeing the best friend’s brother-in-law in the driver’s seat.
During initial questioning by Miami-Dade police in the days following Henry’s disappearance, the brother-in-law denied picking up Henry, claiming she told him that she made alternative transportation arrangements.
Later, however, he admitted to police that he did in fact drive Henry to the club.
“She knew who took her...she knew who picked her up,” Clarke lamented yesterday.
“She trusted them and they misused her trust.”
Steve Henry added: “For anyone to do whatever they did to take her away is very hurtful...It’s not a nice feeling at all.”
Authorities have not released any information regarding the man’s identity for fear of compromising their investigation.
Family: Police slow in responding
According to the Miami-Dade police, the black Acura Integra that Henry’s best friend’s brother-in-law was driving has disappeared as well, creating yet another stumbling block for investigators.
Police are searching for the vehicle in the hope that it could shed some light on what happened to Henry.
Another twist to this baffling case is the slow response of the authorities.
Clarke reported Henry missing on May 29 at approximately 5.30 pm.
More than a week went by before police interviewed her on June 6, when Clarke awoke to the sound of investigators banging on her front door at 2 am.
“I don’t know if that’s the way they do business around here,” Clarke said, “because I’ve never been in this position before, but I find it’s odd.”
Henry’s father also lamented the sluggish start of the investigation.
“I’m very disappointed because being so long, anything could have happened...God knows what could have happened in those (few) days,” he said.
“Probably by responding earlier she could have been found already.”
‘My daughter is a sweetheart’
Steve Henry described his missing daughter as having a bright future.
He said she planned to attend law school from September of this year.
“She’s a very happy person, very strong-minded, very kind,” he said.
“She would do anything for anybody...She’s just a sweetheart.”
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