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#397: Mass. school teacher Murdered


Hyde Park man, 61, killed while visiting  future home in Haiti 
by Joanna Massey, Globe Correspondent and Francie Latour Globe Staff,
This story ran on page B2 of the Boston Globe on 09/02/99. 

A Hyde Park man preparing to retire to Haiti has been found
dead,apparently shot and then left behind the Port-au-Prince airport and
most likely the latest victim in a surge of violence against
Haitian-Americans returning to their homeland, his friends and relatives
said yesterday. Berhmann Narcisse, 61, a retired Boston school teacher,
was visiting the  house on the Caribbean island he planned to move into
when he was  reported missing by relatives last week, according to
family friend Frantzy  Merisier, who lives in Randolph. Narcisse was
found dead behind the airport Sunday and relatives in Haiti believe he
was dragged from his house and shot, Merisier said. Officials at the US
Embassy in Haiti did not know anything about Narcisse's death but said
they would investigate.Merisier and his sister, Sandra Bissante, whose
own parents were robbed and shot to death while visiting their homeland
two years ago, said Narcisse, who taught foreign languages to middle
school students, had recently spoken to them about the dangers of
returning to Haiti.''People up here just have no idea what awful things
are going on down there,'' Merisier said. ''It should be simple: stay
away from Haiti. That's the only way to stay safe.''Narcisse's death is
believed to be the sixth murder in Haiti in less than two years
involving a member of Boston's Haitian community, the third largest in
the United States after New York and Miami. In december 1997, Willy and
Alicia Merisier, a Mattapan couple, were killed on a roadside near the
capital. A year later, Rulx ''J.J.'' Damas, who was born and raised in
Dorchester, was killed by gunmen who opened fire on the rented car he
was driving. And in April, Andre Pierre, 71, and his son Andre Pierre
Jr., 8, of Malden died after they were attacked with machetes while they
slept in an unfinished home the father was building for retirement.   
Narcisse's death occurs as the United States begins to withdraw its
military  presence in Haiti. Last week, almost five years after
deploying thousands of troops to restore and support democratic rule,
the United States began replacing those forces with temporary support
teams. The United States has given the United Nations control over
maintaining security in Haiti, but many Haitians fear the complete
withdrawal of the US  military will worsen the crime problem in the
impoverished nation. Bissante said she was left speechless when a friend
called her Tuesday night to tell her of Narcisse's death.'My reaction
was `Can this be real? Again?''' she said. ''I was shocked. I        
just didn't know what to say.''One of Narcisse's three children, Karen,
said it was her father's dream to return to his homeland and that he
''worked hard to make all the arrangements to move there.'' He may have
timed his visit with ''Diaspora Week,'' a festival sponsored by  the
Haitian government during which Haitians living abroad are invited to   
return home.''It's so ironic that this happened so shortly after
Diaspora Week, which was supposed to bring Haitians living abroad
together with Haitians living in Haiti, said Pierre Imbert, executive
director of the Haitian Multi-Service Center in Dorchester.He added:
''It's very sad because on the one hand some efforts are being made to
bring Haitians home and on the other hand, those efforts are being    
undermined by despicable acts of violence.''Members of Boston's Haitian
community say crimes against US Haitians returning home reflect the
clash between the extreme poverty on the island and the new wealth of
returning Haitians.Because they dress differently than Haitians living
in Haiti and because they  tend to carry large amounts of cash when they
enter the country, Haitians returning home tend to be vulnerable to
crime. They are targeted not only by a new criminal element of
youngsters involved  in gangs and drugs, but even by distant relatives
acting out of poverty and greed.In the Merisier case, the two men
arrested for the murder were relatives the couple had entrusted with
building their home. Although details of the latest death are still
sketchy, Merisier said he believes Narcisse was deliberately targeted.
''People need to know about this or they will keep going down there and
getting killed,'' he said.