Body found in Jamaica believed to be missing Amherst woman 

  • COURTESY OF THE JAMAICA OBSERVER COURTESY OF THE JAMAICA OBSERVER

  • A home at 415 Meadow St. in Amherst owned by Nancy Hardy, Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018. STAFF PHOTO/SCOTT MERZBACH

Staff Writer
Published: 11/29/2018 11:32:09 PM

AMHERST — Authorities are investigating the discovery of a body in a shallow grave in Jamaica that is believed to be Nancy Hardy, an Amherst woman who was reported missing from her home on the Caribbean island on Saturday, according to published news reports.

The body was located in Green Island, a town a short distance from Hardy’s residence in Negril.

The Jamaica Observer, a newspaper based in the capital city of Kingston, reported “the body was unearthed from a shallow, makeshift grave in an isolated section of the Fish River Road community, near Orange Bay, in Hanover (province). It was wrapped in a blue towel, with hands and legs bound, and the mouth stuffed with a rag.”

Sharon Beeput, the superintendent of the Hanover Police Division, was quoted in RJR News, an online news source in Jamaica, about the status of the investigation. The news outlet reported later Thursday that police have identified a person of interest in Hardy’s case.

Calls and emails to the Jamaica Constabulary Force’s corporate communications unit, which issued the initial press release when Hardy was reported missing, were not returned Wednesday and Thursday, and messages left at the Green Island police station for Beeput were not answered. Attempts to reach Hardy’s family were also unsuccessful.

The online newspaper The Gleaner of Jamaica also reported on the incident, stating that someone stumbled upon the shallow grave at a section of bushes and went to investigate.

“The grave was discovered to contain the decomposed body of a female,” a reporter for The Gleaner wrote. “The police who were later summoned, say based on investigations, they now believe that the body is that of the missing foreign national.”

According to the press release issued by the Jamaica Constabulary Force, Hardy, 72, was at her home in Negril, a beach resort town on Jamaica’s western tip in the Westmoreland parish, at the time of her disappearance, after a person visiting her residence could not find her.

“At the time she went missing she was wearing a multi-colored T-shirt and a pair of black shorts,” Jamaican authorities wrote. “After several failed attempts to contact her, a report was made to the police.”

Hardy has lived in Amherst for almost 30 years. She purchased her home on Meadow Street in 1989, registered to vote in Amherst in 1990 and remained an active voter, according to town property and voting records. She also owned a residence on Prescott Road in New Salem, based on records at the Franklin County Registry of Deeds.

For 10 years, until 2010, Hardy ran the Aerus Electrolux store in the Hampton Inn Village Shops on Route 9 in Hadley, and for another 10 years before that sold Electrolux products from her home. At the time of her retirement, she explained to customers that a medical condition required her to leave the country for four months between December and March.

At her home Wednesday, an Electrolux sales sign advertising the vacuum products remains at the edge of the road. But even though there is also a small sign about the business on one of the doors to the residence, a container filled with business cards does not advertise the vacuums, but rather informs people about an opportunity to rent, by the day, week or month, a large studio on the Caribbean island for “Natural Living Jamaica.”

Two vehicles were parked in the driveway on Wednesday when a Gazette reporter visited the home, but no one answered the door.

Bruce Homstead of Easthampton, who was friends with Hardy, said he believes Hardy married a Jamaican man. But he said he also worried that she may have been taken advantage of by someone on the island.

Homstead added Hardy had a serious thyroid issue which benefited from the warm temperatures in Jamaica.

Kathy Grey, also of Easthampton and a former host of a local reggae radio program, said she knew Hardy in passing, describing her as one of the first people she knew in the area who had a passion for Jamaica. She also noted that she married a man from Jamaica.

Grey, who spent 23 years living in Haiti, is planning to retire to Jamaica, where she has also spent time.

She said Hardy was a small business owner and landlord who, despite her sometimes abrasive personality, lived the life she wanted to.

“I always respected and admired her,” Grey said. “She was a very independent woman who deserves to be remembered and respected.”

Hardy also played a role in founding the Earthdance Creative Living Community in Plainfield.

Sharleen Brittell of East Greenbush, New York, who is a regular visitor to Negril, where Hardy lived in Jamaica, said in a phone interview Tuesday that many Americans, Canadians and Europeans live in the town. Brittell said she has spent significant time there, as well, but on the opposite side and away from Phase 3, Whitehall, where Hardy had been living. That section, she said, tends to have more crime than other parts.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.

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