A 17-year-old youth was beaten and chased from a St Thomas community two Sundays ago after a 'Bible and key' old folklore ritual was used by a group of persons to conclude that he stole a BlackBerry cellular phone.
An elder woman was summoned and even paid J$1,000 for her role in administering the test, after the cellular phone went missing from a 'big yard' occupied by a huge family at Bath in the parish.
It was said that the method was at first suggested as a joke but some believe it led to the recovery of the device from the 17-year-old who reportedly confessed to taking it.
"When di ooman done do har thing di youth couldn't do nuttin' else but admit seh a him thief di man BlackBerry an gi it back," 56-year-old Jeniffer Ultett, a resident of the community exaggerated.
According to her, the 17-year-old who is not from the community or parish, but from east Kingston, confessed to taking the phone, admitting the owner had left it in the bathroom area of the dwelling and he took it.
It was said that the boy who had remained inside the yard after it was realised that the phone was missing, helped to search for it and even shed tears as he strongly denied allegations that he was responsible for its disappearance.
The elder woman, said to be in her 60's and who is hailed as a spiritual reader and healer, was contacted by the family to solve the case after hours of searching for the phone.
The ritual which is believed to be able to prove innocence or guilt, involves turning the Bible to Exodus Chapter 20, which commands, "Thou shalt not steal", and placing a key on that page so that a section protrudes from the Bible. A length of cord is then tied around the book
A person is believed to be guilty if the Bible spins over and over again after the following words are uttered, "By Saint Peter, By Saint Paul, By the true and living God, ... (name of person) is the thief".
When contacted yesterday, a 24-year-old man who resides in the tenement yard claimed the elder woman simply told the teenager to return the BlackBerry after carrying out the ritual.
According to him, the teen still tried to deny having any knowledge of the whereabouts of the phone but changed his story following pressure from the woman and those who lived at the yard.
"A pure family live yah inna di yard, and dem ting deh neva gwaan in deh yet. A nuh di first people call di woman fi find out a who thief things suh wi know a nuh false ting she a deal wid," he explained.
After confessing, the teen was then attacked by two men who used metal chairs to hit him several times all over his body. He, however, managed to make an escape with a broken arm and fled the community.
Numerous attempts were made to speak with the elder woman but several calls to a number provided went unanswered.
When contacted, sources from the St Thomas police said they heard of the incident but no formal report was made.
The police were quick to point out the dangers of persons trying to exercise their own methods of judgement.