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Jamaican Murder Mystery: Bronx woman believes her mother killed over ‘dream house’

THE BRONX — Police at the Criminal Investigation Bureau in Black River, Jamaica, West Indies weren’t confirming or denying it Friday night, but a Bronx woman told PIX11 she was notified by a Jamaican relative that her 45-year-old mother was murdered in the St. Elizabeth section of the island.

The daughter said her mom’s body has been laying in the morgue since last Saturday, March 3, when it was found.

“Someone strangled her with like a rope,” Diona Pryce said of her mother, a former certified nursing assistant who lived half the year in the Bronx. Pryce identified her mother as Dorrette Coke Lawson, known to most friends as Karen.

“She had $600 in U.S. money that was stolen, some Jamaican money, and just her cell phone,” Pryce said. “She had so much jewelry and valuables in the house, and that’s all they took.”

If the mother of three daughters is formally identified, it will mark the second New Yorker murdered in Jamaica in the last several months.

The other victim was 26-year-old Desiree Gibbon of Queens, New York.

Gibbon’s beaten body was discovered off a road near Montego Bay in late November, in the northern part of Jamaica.

Diona Pryce said her mom had started building a “dream house” in the southwestern section of the island just over ten years ago, but there was always a feud about the property she had bought.

“She bought her land and started building a house on it,” Diona Pryce said. “She had her paperwork and everything, her deed!”

When she started building the home, around 2007, Coke Lawson met with violence when she arrived to visit her own mother, according to Pryce. She said an armed robber stopped her mom’s taxi, before it reached the driveway of her grandmother’s home. She said the bandit shot Dorrette Coke Lawson, when she didn’t give up her money and jewelry right away.

Coke Dawson didn’t return to Jamaica for two and a half years, according to her oldest daughter.

“I think it’s just jealousy from everybody,” Pryce said. “They just didn’t want her to be happy.”

Pryce said Dorrette Coke Lawson had emigrated to the United States when she was 12 years old and became a U.S. citizen. She later worked at a domestic violence shelter and nursing homes as a cook and certified nursing assistant. But she longed to build a home in Jamaica. After she was shot, Coke Lawson received Social Security Disability and other benefits, according to her daughter.

“When we were young, back in our teenage days, we used to go to Jamaica for Christmas and stay through New Years,” Pryce remembered. “Everything was always fine.”

Now, Pryce said she was having a hard time getting information from Jamaican authorities. She said she was told her uncle would be going to the morgue Friday.

PIX11 News contacted the Nain Police Station in Jamaica before we were directed to call the Criminal Investigation Bureau in the Black River District. The first person who answered the phone at Black River said he wasn’t familiar with the case. Then a female supervisor got on the phone and told PIX11 she wasn’t telling us anything, because she didn’t know us.

She then stated “I can neither confirm nor deny anything.”