Otis Lockhart never ill-treated family – Former landlords
Lockhart, a former Petersville Primary School and St Martinâs Secondary School (SMSS) student, was detained by police on Monday, May 15, after someone reported to law enforcement that he, his wife and three children were living in inadequate conditions in an area on Bequia known as St Hilary.
Lockhart was kept by the police for 48 hours and released without charge, but he was prevented from seeing his family for almost a week, as the local Social Services Department and the United States Embassy investigated allegations of kidnapping, mistreatment and abuse. He has been cleared of any wrongdoing and was reunited with his family yesterday.
On Monday, businessman Marcus Mayers of Prospect told SEARCHLIGHT that he rented a property to Lockhart for a year and over that time he got to know the Vincentian man with American citizenship very well.
“He stayed by me for a little over a year; when I met him we spoke a while and I got to know him and I realize that he is a very articulate person, a smart guy,â Mayers said in a telephone interview.
He said that Lockhart and his family enjoyed their privacy and liked to be by themselves.
“â¦so when I see the thing happen in Bequia, I say, ok, thatâs just what heâs about. He just likes to seclude himself… he and his wife,â said Mayers.
However, Mayers opined that Lockhart should give his kids a little more freedom, “The only problem I think you know… he confine the kids a little too muchâ.
“â¦but thatâs the only thing I would say. I am not saying anything negative about him, I like the guy and he is a very smart person; my mom had like himâ¦ and you know, we got along, we always got along,â stressed Mayers.
Mayers described Lockhartâs wife as “niceâ.
“We never had any problem… we never had a problem. I used to go shopping for them, like for instance, he went to New York for a while and I used to take them shopping and so. So, I got to know her also, sheâs a nice, educated lady.â
Mayers said that he does not know if the decision to move to the tent was a joint decision, but from his observation, Lockhart was in charge of his family.
“I think he was more in charge… he was the man and he functioned as a man. He was the provider. One thing I do know, he spent a lot on groceries. He said that on the interview and itâs true… he did spend a lot on groceries.â
Mayers also noted that “the kids were smartâ and Lockhartâs wife said that they were being home schooled.
“As a matter of fact, my nieces used to come around and those kids, to me, were more advanced than my nieces who going to the best schools in St Vincent. So, I have no problem with home schooling. To me home schooling is better than going to those primary schools. Thatâs my opinion,â stressed Mayers.
Juanita Rogers, a woman on Bequia who also rented to Lockhart, said that she never observed Lockhart mistreating his family or doing anything that would make her suspicious of him.
She said that Lockhart lived on her property for a year before he moved.
“â¦They used to dey with us, anything I do, I give them… they used to dey around us. I never see he do dem no evil, not nothing,â said Rogers.
The Bequia resident said that she does not think that Lockhart is strange, but she realized that when the sun was out, Lockhartâs family would stay inside.
“â¦They donât come out, they does be inside all the time and in the evening, they does come out,â noted Rogers, who added that Lockhartâs children would play with her child and then return indoors.
“He said when he go back home, he woulda send them to me, but I didnât know nothing about that. I just feel sorry (is happening to him). I didnât find no fault with him and his children,â commented Rogers, who revealed that even after he stopped renting from her and was renting a property elsewhere, she would go to the other house and visit him. She said that she lost contact with him after he moved to St Hilary.
Superintendent of Police Richard Browne told the media last week Wednesday that Lockhartâs wife, a Connecticut native, said that her husband did nothing wrong and the family wanted to remain with him.
On Monday, Lockhart released a statement that read, “As a husband, a father and proud Vincentian, I think itâs important that I clear the air about any speculation that I may have abused my children. My wife and kids have said this is not true,â said Lockhart in the statement.
He said that he is inviting the police and the media to contact people who know his wife and kids personally.