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Three years later… #WHEREISCHAVELLE



*Photo credit: Facebook

April 30, 2023, marked the third anniversary of the reported disappearance of Chavelle Dillon-Burgess. A beloved daughter, devoted mother, and cherished friend  seems to have vanished without a trace. Collectively, the public often wonders, “Where is Chavelle?” 

However, three years on, there is never an answer, and the question fades back into the background, only to be rehashed randomly on social media every few months or annually in a news article. 

But this isn’t the case for those who love her and are seeking closure surrounding her disappearance. How does her family pick up the pieces? Grief is ever-present for them while time and life move on for us, but has it?

When this ordeal began, it was unfathomable that something like this could happen—particularly the circumstances of her disappearance- during the lockdown in the pandemic. 

Especially a mother who, by all accounts, would never leave her young son behind. He is now three and a half years old. 

Detective Inspector Jason Smith, as quoted in a recent article about the case, stated, “ [He] will never know what it is like to experience a mother’s love while growing up.” 

It is a tragedy that ripples through our conscience. Yet another Mother’s Day has passed yet her son is still too young to realise what he has been cheated of. 

Chavelle’s disappearance rocked Bermuda, not just women but men as well. One of those men is Antonio Belvedere.

When the public first became aware of Chavelle’s disappearance, you were at the forefront, hyper-visible and active in the search for her. What prompted you to become involved to the extent that you did?

AB: I became involved because of three factors. One, I have a daughter. Two, I have a mother. Three, she was posting on social media not too long before she went missing, begging for help, and people were spamming her videos and Facebook status based on what Chavelle was going through; pretty much going against what she was going through in the videos. It was evident that she needed help. I asked her if she had sought help from any of the resources and [if there was anything] I could assist with. I never met her or spoke with her before that. Then, she was gone.

Are you still in contact with the police, Chavelle’s family, and friends? If so, how are they coping with not knowing what happened to her and the lack of justice? 

AB: I haven’t been in contact with the police recently, but I have contacted her mom and grandmother, and one of her friends periodically. They are coping as best as they can. I can’t imagine what they are going through daily; even her son growing up without his mother. I assume that they are like everyone else in the country. We do not know what happened and have been waiting for a trial to start, which I feel has taken too long.
She has been begging for help for years, and it shows me that the system in Bermuda is not doing enough to protect people. She has been missing all this time, and [it feels like] nothing has been done for her legitimately.

How important is it to keep Chavelle’s memory alive within the community?

AB: I think it is imperative. I can say for myself that she is on my mind daily. Coupled with the unknown, I’ve seen and felt the hurt from her family and close friends. It has affected me in ways that I never thought it would. It hurts me to know that only on the anniversary of her disappearance do they post on social media asking for assistance. I randomly post myself #helpfindchavelle or vent about thoughts on my mind with the situation.

Do you wonder if or when there will be justice for Chavelle? For her family? Do you think it is fruitless to hope that her remains are found? 

A few scenarios play out in my brain when I think of Chavelle’s case and what has happened to her. I know that one person knows what happened and where she is. I think about her son…and it breaks my heart. We searched every pond and rock line and followed up on every lead that came through my phone. I do not know how valuable that was to the case. I also feel that to charge someone with disappearance and murder; you must have evidence to support that. With the lengthy wait, I now wonder if it would be a fair trial if it were in Bermuda. I hope that the Bermuda Police Service and Court system can give this family closure. What if this was your daughter, mother, or sister? How do we justify the wait? We ask ourselves these questions knowing justice needs to be served.

Chavelle’s disappearance rocked our community. It exposed cracks and weaknesses in the core values we pride ourselves on, faith and family. In this case, the mothers, daughters, and sisters have seen reflections of ourselves and our loved ones. What do we do with this knowledge? Do we dare to hope this young mother will be found and her family, especially her son, will know what happened to her? Do we dare dream that her son will see she made the ultimate sacrifice to remain close to him? Or will this story be forever half-told, a tragedy that turns into folklore? Chavelle matters more than anniversary pleas and posts. She is loved, valued and, most importantly, missed. She would have celebrated her birthday on May 12,, and we must keep her memory alive and believe one day, justice will prevail.

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