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She was only six when her father was murdered

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Tashay Minks clearly remembers staring into her father’s coffin, aged six, at his funeral.

“I didn’t cry,” she says. “I think I was the only one that didn’t. I remember looking in the coffin and everyone was crying. I was only six. I thought ‘he’s not there’.

“I understood that he’d been murdered. I knew from young that he was slashed from ear to ear. My brother was four; it hurt him more.”

Their father, Brian Simmons, was found dead at Pembroke Dump with his throat cut on October 9, 1994. His killer has never been caught, though detectives say they still believe they will solve the case.

The gruesome fate of the 29-year-old, who was murdered close to his Curving Avenue home, has been on the mind of his eldest daughter a lot lately.

Each time she hears about another gun killing Bermuda has had 16 in 27 months she thinks about the children left without a dad, as she and her two siblings were.

“When you look at these murders, almost everybody has children,” says the 23-year-old, of St George’s. “Now those people have to grow up. People don’t realise they are taking away from the people’s children.

“I don’t condone it in any way but for them to have children and to know their dad and now their dad isn’t there. Some children rebel awfully because they are like ‘I don’t have a father growing up’.

“I just wish people would think of the children and families before they kill people. They are not just hurting the person they kill; they are hurting the family as well.”

Ms Minks believes she held it together fairly well as she grew up, but says her younger brother Adrian, 21, now married and living in Canada with two children of his own, rebelled a lot.

“He blames some of his rebelliousness on it. Boys especially have to have a father figure. I had a step dad that was basically there for all the years but he wasn’t my real dad. I never called him dad [but] he was a father figure in our lives.”

The siblings have a half-sister, Malika, who was just a baby when their father died and doesn’t remember him.

Ms Minks has a few memories but says she didn’t see her father much as he was no longer with her mother. That makes it no easier to deal with his loss, as she often wonders what their relationship could have become.

“We just used to go and sit off at his house a couple of weekends,” she says. “His house wasn’t too far from the dump. It was more of me being around my dad’s family.”

The cashier and short order cook has heard stories about why her father was murdered which suggest it was to do with drugs and that a non-Bermudian was responsible.

Mr Simmons was known to police, having missed a court appearance the previous year for allegedly breaking into a residence and once claiming to be the victim of a police assault.

Ms Minks says stories painting a “bad picture” of her father about “the stuff that he used to do or used to be into” emerged as she was growing up.

But she adds: “Nobody still deserves to die or anything and the way that they did it was heartless: while he was asleep outside. They slashed him from ear to ear. Every time I go past the dump where he was killed, it hurts.”

No one was ever charged after the initial murder inquiry and the case last made headlines in 2007, when police said they were conducting new interviews after fresh evidence emerged.

Ms Minks remembers reading the stories and hoping for some kind of closure, but none came.

“It would be nice for someone to get caught because people know who did it,” she says. “There’s someone who knows.

“They should come forward if they know what happened. I know that somebody knows and it would be nice for the person to do their time for what they done.

“For years people have been saying they know who done it and the person is just walking around like nothing ever happened.”

She admits she sometimes wonders “are they watching me or wanting to do something to me?”

Her father’s presence is always around her: when she looks in the mirror and sees his features staring back from her own face or glances over her shoulder at the tattoo of him on her back.

Not everyone understands why she had the tattoo done but she explains it was a way of paying tribute to him once she was old enough to do so, of creating something permanent.

“I never got to see my dad a whole lot but that’s my dad. It’s still going to hurt no matter what. That’s my daddy, no matter if he was there or wasn’t there.”

Superintendent Antoine Daniels, from Bermuda Police Service, said yesterday: “That’s a case that was investigated by the previous major incident room. It’s been reviewed a number of times. We have arrested a number of persons as suspects and interviewed them.

“As recently as two years ago, we had someone in custody for that, but, so far, we haven’t placed anyone before the courts. The case is still active and we continue to review it.”

Tashay Minks, daughter of murder victim Brian Simmons, with the tattoo she has of his face on her back.
Tashay Minks, daughter of murder victim Brian Simmons, with the tattoo she has of his face on her back.
Tashay Minks, daughter of murder victim Brian Simmons, with the tattoo she has of his face on her back.
Tashay Minks, daughter of murder victim Brian Simmons, in a photograph taken soon after he was killed, when she was six.
The late Brian Simmons, who was murdered in 1994.

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Published August 26, 2011 at 11:00 am (Updated August 26, 2011 at 11:20 am)

She was only six when her father was murdered

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