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Three Thanksgivings later, Hollis mom seeks justice for daughter slain on island getaway

Photo by Debbie Egan-Chin

For most New Yorkers, Thanksgiving is about gathering around the family dinner table for fun and good food. But for Hollis’ Andrea Cali-Gibbon, Thanksgiving is a never-ending nightmare.

Three years ago, her daughter, Desiree Gibbon, 26, disappeared while on vacation in Jamaica. Desiree’s body was found on Thanksgiving Day 2017 in the heavy brush adjoining an overgrown local roadway in Montego Bay, her throat slit ear to ear.

Three years later, her killer has yet to be found.

The murder of the aspiring model was never solved, leaving her mother with many questions and no answers. In that time, DNA analysis, forensic evidence and video surveillance from nearby homes revealed few clues toward an arrest.

“She wanted to be there,” the mother said. “She was Jamaican. She had been there many times. Maybe seven or eight times … with her siblings, and many of her friends.”

Desiree arrived in Jamaica on Oct. 20 and planned to return home four days after her body was found. Known as Desi to family and friends, she was staying at her grandmother’s hotel, considered off the beaten path and away from “touristy areas.”

“She was an adventurous girl — she traveled the world,” said Cali-Gibbon. “She wanted to learn about every religion, every culture.”

Cali-Gibbon continues to fight for information on her daughter’s murder, with no leads forthcoming from local detectives. When she appealed to the U.S. Embassy in Jamaica, staff members told her they don’t investigate murder cases in other countries unless requested by that foreign police agency.

“I last spoke to her three years ago and it is an unsolved murder,” Cali-Gibbon said. “We still have no answers and we are pleading to the American people, U.S. Embassy, for any help we can possibly get. Police went to the hotel in Montego Bay and they returned a flip-flop that she was wearing that day as evidence.”

Her mother talked about Desiree’s life; being born half-Black and half-white, Desiree was comfortable in every walk of life, she said.

“She fought against racism one of big things in life to fight for,” she said. “I’m sending an email to the prime minister of Jamaica, begging for his help to identify those responsible for Desiree’s murder. I’m trying to write a law that would assist any American citizen’s family who has someone who is killed abroad.”

“I know there are people in Montego Bay that know what happened to Desiree — I just ask that you please speak up,” she sighed.

Andrea Gibbon at home with the necklace and cremains of her late daughter, Desiree Hyacinth Gibbon, on the three-year anniversary of Desiree’s unsolved murder, Nov. 23, 2020, in Queens, New York. (Photo by Debbie Egan-Chin)

This story originally appeared on amny.com

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