Remembering Marsha and Tammy Ottey – 14 years later

By RON FANFAIR

Being laid off in difficult economic times last January from Renown Steel in Scarborough where he had been a foreman for over three decades was tough for Derek Ottey.

Tougher though was grappling with the reality that he would no longer be close to the burial place of his daughters, Marsha and Tammy Ottey, who were murdered in their home 14 years ago in one of the most heinous crimes in this city.

Renown Steel is located across the street from Armadale Free Methodist church that his daughters attended and its adjoining cemetery where they are buried.

“I used to come to their gravesite a lot and I miss that now that I am not employed with the company,” said Ottey, who lives in Pickering. “I still come and visit them, but it’s definitely not the same as been close to them for almost eight hours a day during the work week.”

Derek Ottey is the president of Marsha and Tammy Ottey Youth Solutions (MTOYS) which held its annual barbeque last Saturday a few metres from where the sisters are buried. The organization was formed to provide young people with alternatives to crime and violence.

“Our main mission to is to foster positive community relations and we are doing so in the name of two beautiful young girls whose lives were snatched from us,” said Ottey, who has two teenage daughters with his second wife. “I was very angry when they died, but I have been able to find support in my church and a network of family, friends and supporters that have allowed me to go out there and try to do good things for my deceased girls.”

Mother Avis Ottey discovered her daughters’ bodies when she returned home from work on that fateful summer evening of Wednesday, August 16, 1995.

Autopsies showed they died of multiple stab wounds to the neck and chest.

Marsha, an exceptional student athlete who graduated from Sir Winston Churchill Collegiate, was killed just two days before she was scheduled to take up a track and field scholarship at the University of Arkansas. The Phoenix Track Club athlete also played soccer with Scarborough United Spartans Club.

Younger sister Tammy, who was in Grade 11 at Agincourt Collegiate, was a soccer forward with the same club.

“For a long time after their deaths, I did not watch the Olympics and other major international athletics competitions,” said Avis Ottey. “People would come up to me and say so and so won the race and I would tell them I don’t care. I am certain that Marsha would have been an Olympian because she was very passionate about the sport.

Tammy might not have made it to the highest level in soccer, but she would have gone on to university on a scholarship.”

Ottey is also certain that she would have been a grandmother had her only two children not been brutally murdered in their Valley Stream Drive home.

“I found a photo of Tammy a few years ago with her (future) kids’ names on the back of it,” she said. “That really pierced my heart.”

Four years ago, Rohan Ranger was found guilty for a second time of killing the sisters. Ranger, Marsha’s ex-boyfriend, was first convicted of first degree murder and manslaughter in 1998. His conviction was overturned on appeal in 2003 and a new trial ordered.

Ranger’s cousin, Adrian Kinkead, was arrested in Florida and convicted on two counts of first degree murder in 1999.

Avis Ottey testified for the Crown during Ranger’s second trial.

“My faith in God, with which I struggled after my children’s deaths, a support group which is imperative when you are faced with crisis and the fact that I wanted justice for their deaths were the things that kept me going,” she said. “I wanted to make sure that the people responsible for their deaths paid for it. When I heard the guilty verdict, that played a big part in me wanting to go on living and doing things to keep Marsha and Tammy’s memory alive.”

Arise Shine Ministries pastor, Dr. Roma Hewitt, was the keynote speaker at last Saturday’s MTOYS celebration.

She told the young people they should work assiduously to fulfill their potential and become tomorrow’s leaders.

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