March 23, 2018

Adventists in Trinidad Mourn the Loss of Slain Church Members

Libna Stevens, Inter-American Division News

Seventh-day Adventists in Trinidad are devastated by the loss of three of its members, who were victims of a violent knife attack last week.

Investigators said the murders occurred on March 13, 2018, in La Brea, a town in the southwestern part of the country. Michael Scott, 69, a retired high school teacher and church elder; Abigail Chapman, 42, a Spanish teacher at the Southern Adventist Academy; her daughter Olivia Chapman, 15, and schoolmate Michaela Mason, 14, were the victims.

“This has shaken our church here, and our entire nation is traumatized by this massacre”

“This has shaken our church here, and our entire nation is traumatized by this massacre,” said Kern Tobias, church president in the Caribbean Union church region, based in Trinidad. “We continue to mourn the loss of these lives and pray for the surviving family members and community at large.”

“I am in grief,” said Tobias, who knew Scott and considered him one of his mentors when he started in the ministry. “Scott was a dedicated church elder, historian and trained young people to serve the Lord for decades,” said Tobias. “Scott was also very established in his community, and many joined in a solidarity March and prayer vigil for him and the rest of the victims this weekend.”

Michael Scott was the landlord of the apartment in which Chapman and her three children lived. On the day of the attack, Scott heard noises coming from Chapman’s apartment, which was downstairs from his. He went to the apartment and encountered the suspected attacker, who had a domestic violence report submitted against him recently by Chapman.

Chapman’s two younger children, who attend Port Fortin Adventist Primary School, were not physically harmed. They were with Scott, who locked them in his apartment before going downstairs to investigate the noises coming from Chapman’s apartment.

Friends and family remembered Chapman and her daughter Olivia during a packed memorial service held at their La Brea Adventist Church on March 21. Chapman was remembered for her dedication to her family and her committed service to her church. She was a dedicated Pathfinder, served as a primary and secondary school teacher for many years.

“She had creative ways of delivering her knowledge to her students; she was a dedicated teacher, imaginative, creative, worked hard and she taught her children to read the Bible and be active in church,” a cousin of Chapman read during the service.

“Olivia was a Pathfinder and active in church, and she would make sure her friends had a seat at church,” another cousin shared.

There are still unanswered questions about this senseless act, said Tobias. He said he is reminded of the Bible verse found in Isaiah 57:1, where it reads, “The righteous perish, and no one takes it to heart; the devout are taken away, and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil.”

“The church will continue to pray and encourage the children as they cope with this tragedy,” said Tobias. “There is a strong family network in La Brea Adventist Church, and the church organization will provide for Chapman’s surviving family members.”

Members of La Brea Adventist Church are still mourning the loss of so many lives. “We also mourn with the family of Michaela Mason. Please continue to pray for us as a church and for the individual families,” a Facebook post said.

Media outlets reported that authorities captured the alleged killer earlier this week and will continue its investigation of the crime.

Memorial service for Michael Scott is scheduled for Sunday, March 25, at La Brea Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Royston Philbert contributed to this report.