Nelly's star falls
Nelly Stharre, the lovable and lovely reggae singer may be alive, may be dead
The agony that the Raffoul family is going through must be beyond anyone's imagination.
"I'm sure you can imagine it yourself," one grief-stricken family member said in declining a request from The Sun for an interview. The pain in his voice was intense, the anguish was evident.
They have been forced to deal with the grim reality of losing a daughter, a sister; to make sense of the circumstances. Yet they must grapple with the uncertainty, while clinging to hope, no matter how remote, that she might still be alive; that by some miraculous feat, the charred human remains discovered by family members in her burnt dwelling are not those of Nelly Stharre.
The story surrounding the gruesome discovery is as depressing as it is sorrowful.
"The brother and sister, after three days they couldn't (reach) her, they went up there and they found the house charred," a close family friend who later visited the scene told The Sun.
She was also due to attend a function to mark the 128th anniversary of the birth of Jamaican national hero Marcus Mosiah Garvey, but failed to show up, added the friend, who spoke to The Sun on condition of anonymity out of respect for the grieving family, his heart clearly heavy.
"Somebody called and asked about it but I didn't [think much about it at the time]."
What happened, when, and why remain unclear as police continue their investigation.
The house where the fallen Stharre lived was located deep in the interior of Mahaut, was isolated and not easy to get to because of the condition of the road leading to it, a friend and fellow Rastafarian told The Sun.
"It's extremely remote. You drive up and the road is very bad and there is just no neighbour."
Like her brother and sister, he had tried to reach Stharre on Friday 14 August without success, but thought it was because she did not have a cell signal, the distraught lawyer told The Sun in a tone a lot more somber than has been normal.
Meanwhile, the family friend who has visited the scene said when he arrived "there was police all over the place, there was a lot of activity." He said the police did not allow him to walk through the "crime scene" but he it was clear there were remains of two humans.
"No bodies, just skeleton. The bodies were charred. They were in different areas of the house and not in the bedroom area. That's all I know. Anything else will be speculation," he stressed.
"The police told us it's a crime scene and they are investigating and it will take them about three days to cover the area.
It's a very sad situation. It's really sad when you have such a loss, especially when it's a close friend," he added. For her friend who "knew her very well", the news has been "devastating".
"It's really stunning on every level. I'm devastated. The Rasta community is devastated," he told The Sun, adding that they were considering "going up there and doing a chant".
"Nelly was all about peace and love. She was hippy. It's just incongruous. It's just incongruous. I don't know why, what," he stressed.
Stharre, whose given name was Nelly Raffoul, "has three children who were with their father for the summer," Shillingford said, speaking in the present tense, as if she were still alive.
The second set of remains are believed to be that of Stharre's partner Trevy Felix, the former lead singer and songwriter for the internationally acclaimed roots reggae band Boom Shaka.
The two formed a relationship after Stharre and her Jamaican husband separated some years ago, according to her friend.
"He was incredible [and] very, very knowledgeable about Africa. Trevy was one of the [most] intelligent reggae musicians I have known," said her friend. "Trevy that is her man. They lived together, they were making music together; they were making this reggae acoustic trial which they were planning to release."
It's music the world will probably not ever get to hear because this Stharre has fallen under circumstances yet unknown. Fans have turned to social media to express their sorry.
I shed so much tears yesterday as my heart and soul was in disbelief of what happened to you ... I went to rest asking the question why? wrote Ashantiwaa Selassie on Stharre's Facebook page.
"Nelly is the most selfless person I knew. Ras Trevy lived 24/7 for music . . . it is so painful that I preferred to process my feelings and express them privately first. What a loss to a worldwide community of progressive artists, feminists, spiritualists," added Ras Mo Moses
And Heston Francis wrote: "You unselfishly shared your home with me, unselfishly broke your bread with me, unselfishly shared your stage with me… One of the purest souls I've ever known!!!"