‘Give her money to travel home’

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Devon Richards, father of missing teen Mariah Richards looks at a photo of her on his phone at his home on First Branch Trace, Monkey Town, New Grant. -AYANNA KINSALE

Even if they only give her money to travel and find her way home, retired firefighter Devon Richards wants the people holding his 13-year-old daughter Mariah Richards captive to let her go.

On Monday morning, Mariah left the house in First Branch Trace, Monkey Town, to buy bread from a nearby store, but never returned.

Even more disturbing were two phone calls Richards and his wife received later that day.

When Newsday visited the family on Thursday, Richards told Newsday that as the days went by, he became increasingly concerned for his daughter’s safety.

Maria Richards-

He pleaded, “All I can say to them (the people she’s with) is that she’s a young kid, 13 years old, and she’s got her whole life ahead of her.” I just ask them, if Alluh doesn’t want her back home, then give her some passage and she can find her way back home wherever she is. She’s a Trinidadian and she needs to know how to get back home. Give her some passage.

“If allyuh wants to drop her off on the highway and say she’s on the highway, we’re fine with that. Just don’t hurt her.”

He said the whole family is tense and just wants to see Mariah walk back in.

“Everyone misses her, everyone is in a total mess right now. It’s every day everyone calls, all day everyone calls.

“She was a famous kid and at school she was the life of the school. She just drew people to her.”

For Richards, there was nothing unusual about Monday morning.

He woke Mariah – a sophomore at Barrackpore West Secondary School – to prepare for online classes, then put his wife to work. Before he left, he gave Mariah money to buy bread.

When he got home shortly after 9:00 a.m., he checked to see if she was paying attention to her classes, but she was nowhere to be found.

He first asked Mariah’s grandmother, who was at home at the time, where she was, but was told she wouldn’t go home after she went to buy the bread.

She was wearing a red dress and black slippers.

“I went to look for her once, because I saw that it was school time. I went to the two parlors (nearby) where we would normally buy the bread, but she wasn’t there.

“I thought she might go down the street at the grocer’s to buy the bread, because sometimes they want snacks and stuff, but she wasn’t there anywhere.”

A concerned Richards reported his daughter missing to Tableland Police Station after noon. He didn’t want to wait 24 hours (the recommended time to report someone missing) because he sensed something strange was going on.

Footage from nearby security cameras shows Mariah leaving the house around 8:46 a.m. and walking toward the First Branch and Second Branch Junction, where there is one store, around 8:48 AM.

But the footage shows she never made it to the intersection, and what happened to her is a mystery.

“My wife has been called twice by the people she works with. What they told my wife the first time is that she is in their presence and they made a mistake and picked the wrong person. They told us they would have sent her back Monday or Tuesday.

Devon Richards, father of missing teen Mariah Richards addresses the media as her cousin Machai Alexander watches on at their home on First Branch Trace, Monkey Town, New Grant. -AYANNA KINSALE

“When they called back for the second time, my wife started demanding that they take our daughter back home now.

“The guy on the phone said, ‘Don’t be so loud, it’s just a mistake we’re making.’ When my wife started talking, the phone went off.”

When Newsday visited the family, Mariah’s mother was at work.

Richards said she couldn’t handle sitting at home without updates about her daughter, and thought it was best to work and distract herself.

To date, no ransom has been demanded and since the last phone call, Richards has had no updates about his daughter.

Mariah’s activities, including what she did online, were closely monitored and Richards said the furthest she was allowed to go unsupervised were the two nearby stores. If she had to go to the grocery store, which is a little further away, she had to go with an older relative.

“About two years ago we had a situation where she went to school and went to lime with some friends.

“Since that situation, I took control of her movements. I’m retired, so I have the time. Since then, I’ve made a rule that she wouldn’t leave here without my permission. When I said she was going somewhere, she went.”

Mariah’s disappearance is being investigated by the Anti-Kidnapping Unit, but Richards said there are few updates on the investigation, which is frustrating.

“So far, from Monday to now, we’ve done everything we can. We went everywhere and we searched.

“We see people posting her on social media and yesterday (Wednesday) we see the police finally posted. However, I think that post took quite a while because we had all the information on Monday.

“Yet we searched left, right and in the middle. Villagers, friends, sisters, brothers, family… everyone.”

Anyone with information on Mariah’s whereabouts is asked to contact the Tableland Police Department at 656-3430, the police hotlines at 999, 555, or to make a report through the police website or app.

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