VIPD Assists Nevis Police in Search for Missing Teen

Two Virgin Islands Police Department K9 officers and their dog returned to St Croix after three days on the Caribbean island of Nevis where they assisted their police in looking for a missing teenager.

Although the missing teen was not recovered, St. Croix Chief of Police Christopher Howell said the operation revealed key evidence that will allow the Nevis police to move forward in the investigation.

A few days before leaving for Nevis, Hassan’s skills were put to the test in a simulation where he was able to locate a buried piece of human cadaver the size of a quarter in a one square mile area.

Police on Nevis have been searching for the missing teenager, 17-year-old Dylon Clarke, since April 28. They view his disappearance as suspicious. During the search with VIPD officers, Hassan, the police dog, picked up Clarke’s scent at the Moonlight Bar in Church Ground and led officers to a home about a mile away where he alerted to the presence of a cadaver.

Local police said “a person of interest” to the case resides at the home. Digging equipment was brought in; however a body was not found Howell said, speaking at a press briefing on Thursday afternoon. Howell noted that Hassan is trained to ignore the scents of dead animals which led officers to conclude that the missing teens’ body was at that location at one time.

“The Nevis police can now conduct soil samples and gather additional evidence to advance their case,” Howell said.

Hassan was purchased by the VIPD in 2009 from a kennel in North Carolina that specializes in training police and military dogs. During the initial training with his VIPD handler Hassan was part of a search team looking for Shaniya Davis, a five-year-old from Fayetteville who was missing. Hassan successfully located the body in an area which was used as a dumping ground for rotting deer carcasses.

This cadaver dog is highly specialized, highly trained and very capable”, said police Public Information Officer Melody Rames who accompanied Howell at the press briefing.

The K9 officers, including a Master Trainer and an experienced handler, used a police dog specially trained to identify cadavers.

Police Commissioner C.G. Walwyn of the Royal St. Kitts & Nevis Police Force extended his thanks to the K9 officers and VIPD Commissioner Henry W. White for their assistance.

“On behalf of the Government of the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis, and the men and women of the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force, I extend the thanks of the Federation to Police Commissioner Henry White, Jr. and my people of the United States Virgin Islands for the assistance given us in the search of our missing national, 17-year-old Dylon Clarke who disappeared two weeks ago on the Island of Nevis. I made a call to Commissioner White and he responded to the call for assistance without question.

Commissioner White assured me that notwithstanding the fact that I grew up in St. Croix and the cooperative relationship between our islands over the years, he was more than happy to maintain that relationship by assisting in the search of our missing national.”

The Virgin Islands Police Department has five dogs assigned to St. Thomas, one on St. John and seven on St. Croix. Each dog is trained in a specialty such as narcotics, guns, explosives or cadaver identification. All dogs are cross trained in apprehension. The dogs train, live and work with the VIPD K9 officer he is assigned to.

Chief Howell said as word of the VIPD’s K9 unit expertise spreads in the Caribbean, he is seeing an increase in requests from other Caribbean islands for the use of the dogs.

“The VIPD K9 successes have been well documented in the national media and are constantly being highlighted on the VIPD website and Face Book page. These outlets expose the dogs’ expertise to a global audience,” Howell said adding that it is beneficial to the entire region to share resources.

In my opinion, it is the responsibility of the VIPD and other law enforcement agencies to assist our Caribbean neighbors. Our region has open borders and the criminal element often takes advantage of this. As long as the VIPD is able to provide support and resources to other law enforcement in the region and the U.S., we will continue to do it.”

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