Young husband mourns loss of his `Princess By Wendella Davidson
Guyana Chronicle
March 22, 2007

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LEONARD Ramen, 25, finds it hard to believe that the woman he married and fondly calls “Mali” and “Princess” is no longer, and says he would do anything to have her with him.

After all, they had just five days prior to her meeting her horrible death in New York last week, returned from spending a 10 day fun-loving trip, the first for both, with her relatives in Guyana.

They were married on October 3, 2005 and had great plans together for the future, Leonard, formerly of Corentyne, told the Guyana Chronicle yesterday.

He spoke of his 20-year-old wife having applied to a nursing school to fulfill her lifelong dream of becoming a nurse, and of her wish to have her own home and a daughter.

But according to him, she only wanted the best for any kid of hers and so they agreed to put the child-bearing plan on hold, as they worked to relocate from the basement apartment in which they lived to their own home.

Natasha worked as secretary at Elite Limousine, a car service in Long Island city and, he Leonard is Assistant Manager at Pep Boys Auto in Hicksville, New York.

Dressed in a tee-shirt which he proudly declared was bought by his wife, Leonard was a picture of grief yesterday as he related events leading up to his wife’s death.

He recalled meeting Natasha, a former student of Central High School in Georgetown, who migrated from Guyana at age 15 at the CVS pharmacy, Brooklyn, where he worked as a store man. She had gone there to purchase shampoo and other toiletries, and he had enquired whether she needed help, he said.

For him it was love at first sight; they struck up a friendship and began exchanging phone calls. There was a flicker of a smile as he related how he would chat with her on the phone for hours, as long as five hours straight some nights.

And as the relationship got stronger they got married in October 2005 and initially lived in an apartment building before moving to the basement they had occupied together up to last week.

It was in May that same year, while searching for an apartment, that Natasha met Hemant Megnath, 29, also a Guyanese, through an acquaintance.

Megnath, who then worked in a real estate office, befriended her under the pretext that he would help her find a home but alleged betrayed her trust and raped her.

It was a secret Natasha would keep for some three months and when she could no longer bear the hurt, told Leonard “the truth”.

At the time she was “without papers and fearful that should she report the incident she would be deported,” the husband related.

But according to him, after discussions with other relatives, they took the chance and “went forward”.

Megnath was subsequently arrested and within five days placed on bail “of reachable amount” although the New York police have a recording of him confessing to the crime, Leonard claimed.

Realising that Natasha was going to testify against him, the man now accused of killing her, allegedly began to step up the ante.

According to Leonard, his wife began getting calls on her cellular phone from restricted or unknown numbers, late at nights. The caller would breathe heavily into the phone but not speak, he said.

When this situation continued unabated, several reports were lodged at the precincts and as a last resort, a protection order was sought, he said.

“It had to be through that order he was able to trace my wife,” the husband surmised, recalling that he too started receiving threatening calls. He said the accused went even further and started phoning Leonard’s parents threatening to kill them as well if they did not say where they lived.

On the fatal morning last week Thursday, Leonard said he, as was his routine, left their one-bedroom basement apartment they shared in Queens for work, leaving Natasha in bed. Her job was about five blocks away and since she would normally get a ride from a friend, he would call her when he reached work so that she could get up. His wife would then call when she arrived at work, he said.

He recalled that on about four to five occasions, as he stepped onto the driveway of his apartment, he would see a black 2000 model Civic motorcar parked directly not far away, to the right and that morning it was there as well.

That morning he did not receive a call from Natasha but thought of nothing untoward, as sometimes the call would be late, he said.

At 09:30h, his telephone rang, but instead of his wife the call was from the friend’s sister who told him that she had been assaulted and gave him a number to get in touch with a Lieutenant at the Police precinct.

On placing the call there, Leonard said the police told him that someone had cut his wife’s throat and that they were sending someone to collect him.

“Police from the Suffolk Police Department came, took me to the precinct and then to the hospital,” Leonard recounted, adding that even though he was told his wife was undergoing surgery, he never thought it was that serious.

The husband, who said he had eaten nothing for the day, left for home about 11:40 that evening and when he awoke the next morning and called the hospital to enquire about her he was told “she passed away”.

“I thought it was a joke but when I hurried there and asked for her I was given a number for the medical examiners,” said Leonard, tears welling into his eyes.

According to him, “my wife was my all, she meant everything to me; we struggled together to make live better and then this…she was my princess.”

And as if killing her was not enough, the day after his wife died Leonard said he received the following text message on his cellular phone “Today is F…k Day (friend you can keep). I just f…k’ you so for whoever deserves it and see who f..k’s you back”

Natasha’s relatives both here and overseas are incensed that Megnath was allowed bail after he was charged with her murder.

On Monday, Leonard and nine other relatives arrived from the U.S. with his wife’s body. They had had to ditch plans to bury her in the U.S. since her parents were unable to secure the necessary visas to facilitate their travel.

This is although Natasha’s mother, sister and brother had visited the U.S. in July 2003 and her father in October of the same year.

New York newspapers yesterday said Megnath had attacked Natasha although he was charged with a brutal rape and ordered to stay away from the young woman he allegedly attacked.

The reports said that as she stepped outside her home last week, the accused rapist - set free on $10,000 bail - was allegedly waiting. He grabbed her from behind and slit her throat from ear to ear, killing her, police said.

Describing her as an attractive 20-year-old, one newspaper said she was preparing to testify as soon as next month against Megnath, who allegedly raped her in 2005.

Megnath, 29, of Bushwick, Brooklyn, was arraigned on rape charges in February last year and released on bail a few weeks later.

Brooklyn Criminal Court Judge John Wilson issued an order of protection and set the bail at $10,000, court records show.

As the rape case moved toward trial, four other judges upheld the bail amount, records show. It was not clear if prosecutors had opposed bail. The Brooklyn district attorney's office and Wilson declined to comment.

Natasha will be buried tomorrow in her home village Grove, East Bank Demerara.