A teenager who left London to live in Jamaica over fears of rising knife crime in the capital has been stabbed to death.
Stefika Smith, 17, left her Thornton Heath home in south London for a new start on the Caribbean Island because her parents Morris, 56, and Pauline, 54, wished she could ‘have the same idyllic life’ growing up they did.
The star-student, whose killer has yet to be found, was murdered and dumped next to a lonely track beside a sugarcane field on May 12, two days after vanishing on a trip into town with a friend.
She was found wearing her favourite one-piece yellow body suit with a single stab wound to the throat in rural May Pen, in the south of the island, two weeks before her 18th birthday.
Her clothes were ripped and there were signs she had put up a struggle, authorities have said.
The family’s trauma was made all the worse after a picture of Stefika’s body was posted on social media, before they had learned she had been killed.
Speaking out for the first time about her daughter’s death, Pauline said: ‘I’ve lost an angel. There was a lot of knife crime in London and I wanted to take Stefika away from those dangers.
‘We wanted to her to have the same idyllic life my husband and I had growing up in Jamaica. But wicked people put an end to that.
‘My beautiful sweet daughter left what we saw as a knife threat but became a stabbing victim herself where we took her to be safer. I still cannot take it in.’
Stefika, a pupil at Norbury Manor Business Enterprise College for Girls, sang at the gospel choir of the New Testament Church of God in Brixton before moving to Jamaica in May 2016.
Mum Pauline, who herself lived in Jamaica until she was 23, told the Sunday People: ‘Stefika was always concerned about her safety in London when she went out because of the stabbings and gangs.
‘She didn’t like to be on the streets. It stopped her meeting friends or joining groups.
‘By contrast, growing up in Jamaica in the 1960s was an ideal world. We could do anything totally safely.
‘There was no sense of danger. We could be outside all the time, swimming in rivers or playing in each other’s yards.’
But crime in the region has soared since the family moved to the area with the government declaring a state of emergency in 2018.
During states of emergency police and military personnel are given the authority to search people and buildings, curtail business hours and detain individuals without a warrant.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness announced that a one-month extension to the state of emergency in Clarendon, the district covering May Pen, will last until 19 October and said it could yet be extended further.
Under the emergency measures, businesses must close at 10pm each day.
Murder and shooting rates fell by 73 per cent between 5 September and 11 September as a result of the emergency state, police officials said.
They have recorded 948 murders and 908 shooting incidents across 19 police divisions since the start of 2019, with much of the violence linked to gang rivalries.