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‘We’re all in shock’: Toronto woman dead in Jamaica remembered by family as a ‘free spirit’

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Toronto woman dead in Jamaica remembered by family as a ‘free spirit’
WATCH ABOVE: The family of a Toronto woman who died in Jamaica over the weekend is remembering her as a "free spirit" and a "beautiful person" who had a "big personality." As Catherine McDonald reports, police in Jamaica said 28-year-old Jaeda Pauline Whitehead died on Saturday after becoming “involved in a domestic dispute” with her husband – May 15, 2023

The family of a Toronto woman who died in Jamaica over the weekend is remembering her as a “free spirit” and a “beautiful person” who had a “big personality.”

In an email to Global News on Monday, a communication officer with the Jamaica Constabulary Force, confirmed 28-year-old Jaeda Pauline Whitehead died on Saturday in Clarendon, Jamaica.

Whitehead’s aunt, Evelyn Fox, told Global News her niece was visiting her husband, who lives in Jamaica, to celebrate their one-year wedding anniversary.

According to Fox, Whitehead was only supposed to be in Jamaica for two weeks but had extended her trip.

Police in Jamaica said reports they had received indicated that Whitehead had been “involved in a domestic dispute with her husband who she was visiting” on May 12.

“The incident reportedly escalated to her being physically assaulted by her husband,” police said. “She reportedly sustained injuries but she did not attend the doctor nor reported the matter to the police.”

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According to police, Whitehead was found in bed “unresponsive” the following day and was taken to hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

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Police have requested a post-mortem to determine Whitehead’s cause of death.

“The husband was taken into custody following the incident and he is likely to be charged with murder,” police said.

According to Fox, her niece Whitehead lived in downtown Toronto and worked at Ossington/Old Orchard Public School on the maintenance team.

In a letter to parents of students on Monday, the school’s principal Diane Jamieson said Whitehead was a “valued team member” who had worked at the school for the last two years.

“I know you join with all of us here in expressing our deepest condolences to her grieving family and friends,” Jamieson wrote.

Fox said her daughter had been close with Whitehead, who she described as “bubbly,” “always laughing” and “always the centre of attention.”

“She was just somebody that you love to have around you,” she said.

“That’s all my daughter and I keep talking about is that (Whitehead) was just a free spirit,” Fox said. “Very, very beautiful person, and very giving. So like, I guess we’re all in shock.”

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Fox said Whitehead’s parents are “completely devastated.”

“It’s hard to grasp — and now that you’re dealing out of country, it’s even more difficult to grasp because we can’t even go say our last goodbyes,” she said.

What’s more, Fox said it will be very expensive to repatriate Whitehead’s body.

“If you can’t afford to bring your loved one back home, it allows the country that she died in to do whatever they want with her remains,” she said.

Fox said she is concerned that because the family is so far away, that the circumstances surrounding her niece’s death may not be properly investigated.

“There’s way more to this story,” she said.

In an email to Global News, Grantly Franklin a spokesperson for Global Affairs Canada said the agency “is aware of the death of a Canadian citizen in Jamaica.”

“Consular officials are in contact with local authorities and are providing consular assistance to the family,” the statement read. “Due to privacy considerations, no further information can be disclosed.”

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