Murder #21, Regina & Rolls Say, Borough
Rolls Say,10 and his sister Regina,8, were stabbed to death by their father on February 13, 2011. Their throats had been cut and Rolls had suffered a head injury. They had also suffered knife wounds as they attempted to defend themselves. The father, Jean Francis Say, 62 was arrested at the scene and charged with two counts of murder. The prosecution said he killed Rolls and Regina to spite his estranged wife Antoinette, 44, after finding out he would be evicted from his flat. He had lost his entitlement to the property because she and the children had moved out. On December 8, 2011, he appeared at the Old Bailey to admit the murder of both children. He was jailed for life with a minimum of 30 years before parole.
I have two children of my own and I can’t imagine the crime that befell Regina and Rolls Say. It seems against every human instinct to murder your own children. This was the second time I had come to photograph a murder site where children had died. For some reason I expected to encounter someone who would object to my presence but when I got to Empire Square, the modern block of flats where Rolls and Regina lived, I was met with eery silence. It was a very bright winter day and light streaked through every crevice of the buildings. I photographed the entire building at first but gravitated to the entrance where some flowers lay. Among the flowers, portraits of the 2 kids stood out, smiling as you would expect kids their age to do. The memorial was already wilting from the harsh sunlight and freezing temperatures. I hung around for an hour walking around the building. I could see the blacked out windows to the flat where the murder had happened. Finally as I was deciding to leave a woman came up to me asking who I was working for. She sadly told me what she knew and said that there had already been a dispute over the flowers. Some over zealous cleaner had tried to remove them after a couple of days. I had wondered already how long these makeshift memorials survived and who decides when to remove them. She said they should remain as long as they survive the elements.