Jamaica Observer:– It has been two and a half weeks since Jean Watt, the spouse of legendary reggae singer Bunny Wailer, has gone missing from the family home in Washington Gardens, St Andrew, and a reward is now on the table.
However, as the search intensifies, there have been reports of ‘sightings’ in towns in Portland, Deanery Road and several places in St Catherine.
Also, a tape of her leaving the home from a surveillance camera across the street has now come into play.
“It [the tape] confirms what exactly she was wearing when she left home, which is different from what we initially thought, the bag that she had with her and what time she left. It also confirmed that a car had pulled up to the gate earlier, and that had caused her to go outside,” Maxine Stowe, Bunny Wailer’s manager, told The Gleaner, adding that a $250,000 reward has brought in several tips.
Abijah, Bunny Wailer’s son, shared that Watt, who has memory loss, which is one of the side effects of dementia, had on a brown dress, rather than a black top and brown bottom, as was stated on the missing persons flier.
“She also had on her head a black stocking cap and she was carrying a black bag,” he told The Gleaner. This mode of dress, Abijah and Stowe pointed out, tied in to a report of a sighting received from someone in Port Antonio two Wednesdays ago, days before the family knew of the existence of the surveillance tape.
“Even though the description of the dress didn’t match up to what we thought she was wearing at the time, we drove to Portland from we got the report, and have gone back on more than one occasion. We have received another report that she was spotted in the Buff Bay area as well, so the search party has that entire region in our surveillance. Effort is also being made to secure surveillance tapes from those areas,” Abijah detailed.
The family says that Watt could possibly have had a suit of clothes and some money with her, now that the video revealed that she was carrying her usual large handbag.
“She regularly misplaced whatever money that was nominally given to her, as she no longer had that ability to manage funds. But she could have had between $3,000-$5,000, and also the bag is big enough to hold an extra suit of clothes rolled up,” Stowe surmised.
The feeling is that Sister Jean, as she is called, could have been searching for a home in Portland where she and Jah B lived for many years.
“There is a farm down there, and that is perhaps where Sis Jean was heading. This type of behaviour is consistent with persons who have dementia. There are memory problems, particularly remembering recent events, but the long-term memory is more or less intact, so they go to the place they were born or lived for a while,” Stowe noted.
She also told The Gleaner that several sightings have been made in St Catherine, the most recent being in Macka Tree, but that one in particular proved disturbing. “The people were saying that Sis Jean was laying down conditions about who she wanted to pick her up, and after following it up, it led nowhere. So the police is even more deeply involved.” The next step, she says will be to get a private investigator.
Stowe said that Watt’s condition deteriorated in the last three years and since then, the family has been especially protective of her, ensuring that her needs are met and that she is happy. Jah B, Stowe told The Gleaner, continues to watch every day, hoping for news of his partner of 50 years being found. “We are making sure that physically, Jah B is receiving all the medical attention necessary and his condition right now is stable,” she said of the original Wailer, whose movements have been curtailed as he recovers from a mild stroke which he suffered in late 2018.
Seventy-year-old Jean ‘Sister Jean’ Watt, who is dreadlocked and about five feet three inches tall, went missing from her home in Washington Gardens on Saturday, May 23.