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Feb 25, 2005

Child’s death raises fears and suspicions

Story PictureThe disappearance and death of a four-year-old Belize City boy has the whole nation talking, and shaking their heads. Was he murdered or was it a case of rough play that went too far? Tonight, we still do not know, but the police are checking every possible lead and hoping someone who knows something will come forward. Today I re-visited the house where the terrible discovery was made and spoke with friends and neighbours who are still shocked, and scared.

Jacqueline Woods, Reporting
It was inside this unused refrigerator that the body of four-year-old Oscar Velasquez was discovered. The fridge which lay on the ground was found in a front room of this abandoned three bedroom wooden house located along the main road in the Antelope Street Extension area and only three houses away from where Velasquez lived with his mother and two other siblings. Velasquez who was clad in a dark blue t-shirt and a dark coloured three quarter pants was found face down. The little boy?s head was tightly wrapped in a man?s long sleeve white stained shirt with two large pockets on the front. Also found was an electrical wire tied around the child?s neck. His hands were bound with a white t-shirt. News 5 understands that authorities also found hair that does not match the child?s inside the refrigerator.

Preliminary examination suggests that young Velasquez was not sexually molested. The cause of death, however, appears to be from a lack of oxygen. Today we could not find any children playing on the neighbourhood streets. Clearly, parents living in the vicinity are staying close to their little ones. While at this time police forensic study cannot give the exact time of death, it is strongly believed that Velasquez died sometime on Monday, February twenty-first, the same day he was reported missing.

Today the police are trying to put together sequence of events to find out what happened. According to family friend and neighbour, Juan Guiterrez, the child?s mother Maria Sanchez asked him to baby sit and he agreed around nine a.m., the time she was suppose to have left for work. But he says Sanchez never went to work that morning nor did she bring the child over. He says, that in fact, when he returned home following an errand around twelve fifty that afternoon, he did not see the mother only her older six-year-old son in his front yard who told him Oscar went with his mother. But when he asked Sanchez, she said Oscar was not with her. The six-year-old then changed his story and said he saw his younger brother going up the street. It was not until sometime later Guittierez?s brother confirmed that he too saw the boy around two that afternoon going up the street, but he says the child was with a woman and another little boy.

Juan Guiterrez, Neighbour/Family Friend
?I asked him right after all the commotion and after looking around and at that time the police were already here. As my brother was passing here I told him that the little boy was missing. He said to me, ?boy about two o?clock after I dropped you off here with the lumber, I saw the little boy going down the street with a young lady who was carrying a bucket and another little kid in her right hand.? So I was happy. I thought that was a clue because he went that way with someone I think he knows. Because my brother said he was going happy along with the young lady and even holding the bucket?

?She was a tall slim young lady about fifteen or sixteen years old and had on long brown pants. That is what my brother told me.?

Jacqueline Woods
?And what was her complexion??

Juan Guiterrez
?Dark skin and the little boy is also a dark skin person and is about the same age more or less of Oscar.?

No one else reported seeing Velasquez again that is until shortly after five around Thursday evening when the little boy?s decomposed body was found. But if Velasquez was last seen walking away from the area how come his body was found back in his neighbourhood? Area residents say they do not believe the little boy was killed inside the house rather his body was taken to the location during the night by someone who is very familiar with not only the area, but the building?s layout.

Juan Guiterrez
?I was here for the rest of the day along with my brother working and I saw a guy who was right here outside and he saw everyone passing and Oscar was not seen none at all. So there is something very funny here.?

Cecil Martin, Area resident
?Probably it?s somebody who lives in the neighbourhood or somebody who is familiar with the neighbourhood and the house.?

Jacqueline Woods
?Why??

Cecil Martin
?Because then the way how the house is situated you wouldn?t even believe it was opened. The door they went through isn?t a door that stays open. It looks like it?s always locked but it?s unlocked. So it?s somebody who knew that they could have gone and take the little boy in there because the hours when the little boy was missing nobody strange was around. So it?s somebody who always up and down through here and knows the neighbourhood, did their thing and at late hours gone to put him in there. That?s the only way I could see it. There is no other way because everybody is out at day. There was no strange person around.?

None of the residents, who live near the house at number 7005, report hearing or seeing anything unusual at the residence. However Marsha Castillo says two days ago she started smelling a foul odour coming from the abandoned building but did not think it would be that of a dead person. Castillo, like so many other residents, believe the boy?s mother should have been more careful.

Marsha Castillo,Area Resident
?I blame the mom for that. She supposed to be watching her baby. She is not supposed to have him on the street. Anything could happen to they pickney and so.?

The gruesome discovery was made inside Yvonne Mejia sister?s house. Mejia, who lives next door, says since the building was abandoned late last year children from the neighbourhood often play around the house, even inside. But since Oscar was reported missing none of the children have gone back to the house.

Yvonne Mejia, Area Resident
?I am the one always telling them to come out of the house and not to play in there. Since Monday I didn?t see none of the kids in there. Then all the windows were closed down and the windows are usually opened so that breeze could flow through. Since Monday all of that stopped. So that?s really somebody from right within our neighbourhood who knows something and don?t want to talk because they are afraid for what might happen to them. It?s very unfair for the child. At least somebody should come out for the child?s sake and say something that happened, if they know anything at all.?

Carol Flores says because she knows her children often played inside the house, she became very scared for their lives.

Carol Flores, Area Resident
?It would be somebody who knows the house is abandoned and it could be somebody in the neighbourhood who knows the baby. Only that I could say. I told my husband that because we feel shocked about it. We just hope that nothing happens to our children like that. So I keep them in my eyesight and thing.?

A day after the discovery of the body, area residents say they have also become very suspicious of one particular individual described only as a young dark man they say was charged in the past after he sexually molested a child. They claim he frequents the area and is known to spend nights in the house. Police are also investigating reports that an individual was seen sitting on the steps around the time people were looking for Velasquez. News 5 understands police are also trying to determine whether or not there are any similarities between this case and that of the assault of a thirteen-year-old boy last October. The minor, who lives in the vicinity, was found badly beaten and semi-conscious behind Church of Christ Preschool, which Velasquez also attended. But until the police are able to solve this latest murder area residents say they will continue to live in fear.
Yvonne Mejia
?You hear everybody say I won?t have my kids out there playing again because it could be my kid. We don?t know who it is. It could be somebody who talks to us and you know it could be that same person. So everyone is saying that we won?t have our kids out here again like that. Or if they need to come to just play because they are kids, have them out close where you could watch them.?

Cecil Martin
?We need light because from here going back to the highway, there is no light. If you put your hand up, you can?t even see it. So anything could happen and anybody could come and do anything after night. The dogs bark and you see people passing but you can?t recognise who it is because there is no light. So anything can happen to anyone. So I feel bad real about it.?

While police continue to look for their child killer, News 5 understands that the boy?s mother Maria Sanchez has been detained and more than likely she will be charged for the neglect of her son. Four-year-old Velasquez was buried last night shortly after the post mortem.

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