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Relatives believe the delinquency of her baby’s father and hard times triggered the mental breakdown which led to 22-year-old Shaneka McCalla allegedly stabbing her 13-month-old baby to death on Tuesday. McCalla, for whom the St Elizabeth police have requested a psychiatric evaluation, remained in custody yesterday. The baby, McCalla’s second child, was pronounced dead at hospital on Tuesday afternoon after being stabbed, apparently with a kitchen knife, at her home in Lewis Town, just outside Brompton in South West St Elizabeth. When the Jamaica Observer visited yesterday, Agatha Gayle, an elderly grand-aunt with whom McCalla had lived since she was three years old, told how she first became aware of the tragedy when her grandniece came into the house and announced she had killed her baby, affectionately called ‘Angel’. “She come een with her hand on her head and she say ‘Mama… Mama mi kill Angel (baby’s pet name),” said Gayle, her voice breaking with grief. Alarmed, Gayle said she cried out, “Move from side a mi!”. But then she grabbed her walking stick and hobbled to the back of the house where she found the baby covered in blood, lying face down in an old building which had been converted from an “outside kitchen” to a washroom. Gayle, who suffers from high blood pressure and diabetes, cried out for help and neighbours quickly converged. The baby, still breathing, was rushed to hospital, to no avail. Gayle, too, had to be taken to the doctor — her blood pressure having risen dangerously. Yesterday, Gayle made it very clear she thought the negligence of the baby’s father drove her grandniece over the edge. “From di baby born the father don’t buy her not even a tin of feedin’… every time mi call im, ‘im say yes grandma, weekend; and all now weekend can’t come yet,” she complained. Watched by McCalla’s four-year-old daughter who sat quietly, wide-eyed, Gayle said her grandniece had become increasingly depressed in recent times apparently because of her dependence on her grandaunt and the unwillingness of her baby’s father to give meaningful help. Gayle alleged that all that had been received from time to time from the baby’s father was “two pampers”.
Gayle said that shortly before the baby’s death, a neighbour had seen McCalla sitting under a tree crying. “Him (neighbour) say to her ‘what happen to you’ and she don’t answer… maybe if she did just talk, this wouldn’t happen,” the grieving grandaunt said.
Gayle suggested that from time to time, down the years, her grandniece had been extremely vulnerable to stress. She recalled that at times the young woman had been known to say “mi feel like mi woulda just heng mi self…” On such occasions, she said, she would strongly rebuke her grandniece but she never imagined the catastrophe to come. Yesterday, clinical psychologist Dr Kai Morgan said while mother/child infanticide was rare, stress and depression often led to child abuse and in extreme cases to tragedy, such as occurred at Lewis Town. “Stress-related frustration may cause them (stressed out parents) to shake the child, physically abuse the child, scream at the child,” she said. Morgan said neighbours and relatives should never ignore “warning signs”, including drastic changes in behaviour, extreme gloominess and threats. “These should never be taken lightly, there should always be an attempt to get professional help through counselling,” she said. Gayle said while she was aware her grandniece had seen a doctor on occasions, she was not aware she had ever seen a mental health specialist.

Gayle said issues such as that McCalla had never met her father who migrated when she was nine days old and from whom she received very little material support had added to her problems. “Sometime she say she woulda like fi know her father, is a whole heap a mix-up deh pon her,” said Gayle. McCalla’s stepfather, Livingston Watson, who went to the police station after being called to the scene of the tragedy, said his stepdaughter appeared to have lost all sense of reality. “She nervous like leaf pon tree… mi a sey ‘Shaneka, why you do that?’, all she say, ‘Daddy, mi nuh know, mi nuh know’, only dat mi a get from her,” said Watson, who along with McCalla’s mother lives in Shrewsbury, just a few miles from Lewis Town. He claimed that McCalla also urged him to make sure the baby was alright and asked the police to allow her to go home so she could suckle her baby. “So you see, she nuh know what she do,” Watson said. He also rejected suggestions that McCalla was a “wicked” or uncaring mother. “Shaneka love her baby, love her kids dem,” he said. “Is just something go wrong wid her,” he said. He, too, suggested that the alleged delinquency of the child’s father played a contributing role.

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26 Responses to SO SAD

  • Belly Bang says:

    These incidents are becoming far to frequent. Dem shouldnt even occur. Mi nuh know watto say. We been over similar topics and have said it all.

    Prayers for the child, her mother, the family and the community. Everybody need prayers rite now.

  • MURASAKI says:

    morning metters, what a sad story to wake up to. Granny mi feel yuh pain. But what happen to the parents of your grand neice, seems that this family has had stress all around…and this is her 2nd child and it seems like they were ssuffering before this. I wish Jamaicans would think twice about bringing children into the world when they know that things arent good with them, most times than not it brings stress, anger and depression and doesnt end well.

  • Smh says:

    Hurt my heart!

  • Real says:

    a s mi a seh weh di parents fi di girl///// she go alert the grandmother so she knows what was done …..mi really sorry fi ar …sex come wid a lot of responsibility thing u cannot ar fada abandon ar and now di bby fada

  • Yep! says:

    I don’t mean to sound callous, but unless she was suffering from some sort of diagnosed disability…why was she as a grown able bodied woman depending on a man to mine her child/ren? There are many single women who love and mine them children…without the support of a man. May God open the gates of heaven and take this little baby into his loving arms and bestow upon her…eternal life. I hope the grandmother recovers and finds the strength to carry on and guide the surviving child. As for this murdaring mumma…no comment :mad:

  • Oh Dear says:

    Oh My, so sad, if people we a work stressed cause they cant make two ends meet, what about those who have no income. Everyday, all mi can hear is how Jamaica rough!, Jah know, and there is no social net to help people in financial need!


    good morning mi eye full up a wata ..this is so sad :norose: :norose:

  • The devil really working over time enuh. It’s like every type of crime take on a domino effect in jamaica. First there was d beheading, then d rapes, now is the killing of babies. Lord you need to intervene. Jamaica needs you!

  • Brightlight says:

    Lack of education. As much nastiness a gwan in Jamaica ppl still not educated about sex nor do they want to talk to their children about it even if they are.

    This is a poor people problem and lack of education issue. This is just sad. Can’t condemn this girl but it sad she had to kill the baby. smh

  • This is a painful read–beyond sad. We have entered that stage of evil where everything goes.

  • Mizjanfen says:

    I dont feel sorry for her…nothing in this world could allow me to cause physical harm to my child to the part i would go to a kitchen n stab my child to death…people when upset yell at children or even beat them excessively but to stab…no sah i cannot

  • Anonymous says:

    My condolescence to child and mother they are both at lost. May this child find peace in heaven with the angels. What I dont understand and please do correct me if I am wrong in such unbearable situation why dont these parents give up the child/children if they are not capable mentally and financially to care for these kids. Is it that Jamaica do not have laws that allows them to leave the children at the police stations, churches, etc. as in the USA without been penalized. Are there no other resources for some of these mothers to turn to. This is so heart wrenching. There must be other solutions/alternatives to some of these parents in crisis who are suffering ffrom such hardships so that these young defenseless child/chren do not have to suffer at the hands of those who are suppose to love, protect and care for them. RIP little one.

  • Anonymous says:

    When I heard this story my heart sink and thank God thats not me.

    I have 1 child, no father and live in d UK

    The child is 1yr old, I am stress because of lack of support mentally and physically from anyone. I dont need cash.

    I have seen sometimes I have the kitchen knife and something telling me to just stab my child and myself. I have to start praying.

    I am going to seek help soon because I believe I am suffering from postnatal depression.

    So please do not judge her harshly, I use to do that but now me inna dis position me understand say is help, prayer thats needed more than anything else.

    Met mi cant even sign in…

  • Jules says:

    People nuh realize how essential it is to be emotionally mature before taking on parenthood. Parenting is a 24/7 365 job with no pay, vacations, or health benefits. A nuff time mi hear mothers talk to dem children inna some ways. Sometimes a wonda how some a wi survive unda di parenting wi get and come out nawmal.

    Di child gone, and I think her death is a blessing in of itself, because I can only imagine the years of abuse and torment the child would have endured otherwise. So the death is tragic, chilling, but for that spirit, it is one less tarnished soul walking the earth. The mother will have her own misery in having to live the rest of her days knowing she killed her child.

  • talkthetruth says:

    This story is so sad, RIP to the little girl & I hope that the other child will be taken care of.

  • LadyWoW says:

    This story really sad..this mother was obviously suffering from depression and suicidal.

    R.I.P little angel

  • oh,well says:

    @Anonymous 12.01. Please go to your G.P (I live in london). Explain,( but without the “killing” part) that you think that you have post natal depression. It is obvious to me that is what you have as money is not your problem. Sorry to hear that you are so isolated.
    You should also demand (not in an aggressive, but ASSERTIVE way) that you would like to know the availability of women’s services and therapy in your area. As you have been brave enough to admit that you are having problems, that is the first step towards healing. It will be hard and you may find that you may have to completely change your lifestyle. For the love of yourself and your child, please do as I say, because once the social services get involved, the treatment that you will get could be quite arbitrary, depending on the competence of any social worker that you may be allocated. In these situations, it is always best to be proactive. As a survivor of post natal depression , I promise you, it can cure.

  • good girl gone bad says:

    This story is sad beyond words. But i urge the people who harshly judge the women that end up pin these situations to take a check and know that not everybody is strong, or of sound mind but that does not mean they do not love. The pressures of life can have a real horrible affect on ppl. I pretty sure this young lady did not forsee killing her child and im pretty sure she loved her to pieces. This is just one of those lose lose situations. This girl needs some serious help and prayer. I know that child is resting with the angels now and is in a better place. May the sweet little angel RIP.

    Anonymous you have taken the first step in getting help for yourself by admitting you have a problem and need help. That is the best thing you can do for you and your child. I hope it all works out for you. Thats why when ppl send their kids to live with grandparents or another responsible family member i dont judge them too much because u never know what they are going thru to urge them to send their child away.

  • Versatile says:

    Mi heart a hurt mi. An innocent child. Depression will lead ppl to do things like these but I it hurt mi fi hear seh dem things ah affi happmn. Poor likkle baby nuh kno weh a gwan. Ppl if unu nuh want unu pickney give dem up fi adoption or try n seek help. A swear I would willin take 2..smh

  • sounds like post natal depression

  • Bubbles says:

    OMG baby sweet eehhh me nuh know if me waan see wid dat deh mumma she nuh di only single madda cho rass, den she did a act crazy or weird before she do this??? al of a sudden she tun psycho. me wudda tek that lil angel right now ohh god

  • Bubbles says:

    more than sad this gimmi a instant headache

  • Anonymous says:

    careful of judging her cause stress is one helleva thing

  • Addicted says:

    For all the folks who are condemning this girl/woman please take a break and go read about postpartum depression.
    Not because she is living in JA we are to condemn her and say she is evil and all those things.
    Postpartum is real ( Look at the Andrea Yates case , she killed her 5 children)
    Someone question why is she is dependent on a man to take care of her kids?
    (1) She did not make those children by herself.
    (2) Emotional and Physical help is just as important as financial help
    The majority of us black women came from single parent or broken homes so we think it is the norm for a child to grow with 1 parent ( mainly the mother) Its about time to rise out of this downtrodden mentality that it is okay for us to raise our children without fathers.
    Look around us how many boys are living this gay lifestyle.Have you taken the time to question why this maybe happening? A
    A woman cannot raise a boy into a man she can try her best but she is not a man, so we do need the help of the fathers in whatever form it maybe.
    May God watch over the other child and give the family peace and strength.


    This is not the action of someone in their rite mind…This poor girl is mentally ill and she need help, NOT PRISON!!. Even in this time, we island people never want to address the issues of the mentally ill, the stigma it carries and the depths we go through fi hide it..The family saw signs and red-flags but was powerless to help…POVERTY IS A BITCH ME A TELL YOU..This hurt me bad!!!! :(

  • fashiondoll says:

    So sad. I know that post-partum depression is a bitch and without support the best of person can topple over. Her issue was compounded because of lack of funds.

    I am really concern because more and more people are under severe stress and island people really do not give enough attention to mental illness. Many times i question how our fore parents manage and so many people are now incapable? Could it be the chemicals in our food? May this woman get the help she really needs.

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