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Dec 30, 2016

Revisiting Greatest Unsolved Murder Mystery – “Belizean Jack the Ripper”

2016 is drawing to a close as one of the bloodiest years in recent times. Most murders remain unsolved as did a string of homicides that occurred between 1998 and 2000, which we revisit tonight. As many as five primary school girls from Belize City were viciously murdered. There was a common thread in the way life was snuffed from the girls, all between nine and fourteen years of age. At the time, many believed that a serial killer dubbed ‘Jack the Ripper’ was lurking in the shadows prowling on innocent victims. News Five’s Duane Moody takes you back and has an update on what is now considered a cold case.

 

Karen Wills, Mother of Erica Wills

“Erica mi di go dah school; when ih missing she was eight years old; the same time ina July, the thirty-first.”

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

Erica Wills was one of five primary school girls that were slaughtered in the most gruesome way between October 1998 and February 2000. Their link? All were tortured and brutally stabbed countless times to all parts of their bodies. Thirteen year old Sherilee Nicholas, twelve year old Jackie Malic, fourteen year old Naomi Hernandez and nine year olds Jay Blades and Wills.  It has been almost two decades since the shocking murders, but the memories and unsolved mystery of their deaths still haunt their families.

 

Adelma Malic

Adelma Malic, Sister of Jackie Malic

“Our old time neighbor, Michael Williams, he approached us and said, let me take you to school. That time, me, my sister and that girl who we usually went to school together; he said to us, let me take you to school. And my sister wanted to go because she was already late for morning class, but I get this feeling and I just said no. I don’t know why I said it but I just said no. We all went to school and after that when it is time to go home for lunch, I went for my sister so that we can go home and the teacher said that my sister didn’t come back to class. The girl that we usually, all of us, come to school together, she said that someone said they wanted to see my sister outside. And I said, “Who?” She said, “A man in a car; dark man. I don’t know if he is tall or strapping” – all she says is that it is a dark man. And I run home quickly and I said it to my grandmother and we went looking from that time until the night no answer.”

 

Karen Wills

Karen Wills

“Ih gone with one of my niece. One of my niece come and ask ahn fi go with ahn. And I get ahn ready and everything and I make ih gone with ahn.”

 

Duane Moody

“Where did they go?”

 

Karen Wills

“Around by Anglican school, around there soh dehn gone. Then afterwards, she send ahn back make ih come home because ih say ih ready fi come home and she never bring ahn; she send ahn by ihself.”

 

June Gabourel

June Gabourel, Mother of Sherilee Nicholas

“It was the eighth of September, my daughter Sherilee Nicholas went to school and she didn’t return. When I went home from work, she usually be the first to come home and when I find out that her rest of brothers and sisters came home and she didn’t reach—she usually is the first—I figured that something was wrong. So I went to school and find out and the teacher told me that she wasn’t at school. And then I knew something was wrong because my children were not to the type to go around missing from school or things like that.”

 

…little did they know that their daughters and sister would turn up dead.

 

Duane Moody

Duane Moody

“It was some hundred meters down this feeder road where the mutilated and dismembered body of twelve year old Jackie Malic was discovered back on March twenty-fifth, 1999. This was two days after she was reported missing by family members. Ironically, this is where Homeland Memorial Park, a resting place for the dead, now sits.”

 

Adelma Malic

“She was found with multiple stab wounds; her left arm was no longer there and she got run over by a car and her body was face down in the water.”

 

It’s been eighteen years since the body of Sherilee Nicholas was discovered on the George Price Highway and that same number of years that her mother, June Gabourel, re-visited the location. The last time she was there was when police took her to the site to identify the body of her eldest daughter; it was a month after Sherilee had gone missing.

 

June Gabourel

“She was found with clothes on that didn’t belong to her and one foot of her tennis was found on her way in and one foot was found on her body. She was found with a lot of stab wounds all over her body, her arm was almost off, her face was cut open…yeah…her face was cut open.”

 

These horrific homicides of these children are still etched in the minds of most Belizeans. Malic’s body was dismembered, while huge slashes were found on three; but in the case of Erica Wills, some skeletal remains along with a lock of her hair and some accessories were found in the Gracie Rock Village. It was evident that there was a serial killer lurking in the Old Capital and his target; innocent and vulnerable young girls.

 

Duane Moody

“She was found in someone else’s clothes and apparently that indicated that another girl was missing?”

 

June Gabourel

“Yeah. A next girl was missing. Her name was Jay Blades; she was found in Jay Blades clothes at the scene.”

 

In the months ahead, Belizeans likened the murderer to Jack the Ripper, an unidentified serial killer. Pathologist, Doctor Mario Estradabran back in 2000 made an interesting revelation. His autopsy revealed that the girls were heinously murdered after their bodies were numbed with alcohol and drugs. The killer or killers immobilized the little girls before taking their lives, using the same weapon each time. Jack either had a medical background or access to surgical instruments.

 

Mario Estradabran

Dr. Mario Estradabran, Pathologist [File: March 15th, 2000]

“Especially on the neck and those fatal wounds on the neck have two characteristics—some of them had puncture characteristics and superficial characteristics and the final ones are slicing injuries, like when you are slicing something or producing the last injury to be sure that the victims may die. I would like to say that the similarities are very important in these types of cases. I would like to say that the way how those little girls were killed, are the same way, and I believe it is being done by the same perpetrator. So this perpetrator or this killer is a serious killer, he is a serial killer. Yes, it is the same instrument. All of them have characteristics of being produced by a sharp cutting instrument. Sharp characteristics which this instrument is similar of a surgical instrument, so it is very, very important that the investigators may consider to continue their investigation.”

 

Only one person was charged for the murders and that was in relation to Malic. A Belize City mechanic, Michael Williams, was arrested and charged, but due to insufficient evidence, the then forty-year-old resident was exonerated of the crime.

 

Adelma Malic

“I didn’t tell he police that he did it, but he was the only one that wanted to drop us to school. He didn’t ever ask us to drop us to school.”

 

Duane Moody

“So why then?”

 

Adelma Malic

“No idea and he looked all angry and furious. And he didn’t want to drop me or the other girl specifically; he wanted to only drop my sister, so.”

 

Duane Moody

“Was there anyone that was arrested or detained while the investigation occurred into the murder of Sherilee and does your family suspect anyone?”

 

June Gabourel

“No, not anyone.”

 

Duane Moody

“So where is that case? Is it just up in the air?”

 

June Gabourel

“It’s concrete; it’s under the ground.”

 

A reward of one hundred thousand dollars had been offered for information or details that could lead to the conviction of the serial killer.

 

Chris Garcia

Chris Garcia, Crime Stoppers Belize

“At the time, there were some tips and it was passed on to the police and they did investigate those tips. But what they found out was that the people that those tips were geared towards were people that they had already investigated and found no grounds to arrest them.”

 

So sixteen years later, here’s what we know: whoever killed these girls possibly had some kind of medical training; it appears that there was more than one person involved and at some point in time, at least three of the girls were held at the same place. There was no evidence to support sexual abuse so the motivation for their killing is perplexing and after all these years no one has come forward with credible information. But there are many lingering questions. Who is this serial killer? Is he waiting to attack in the future?  ….only time will tell, but until then, the identity of “Jack” remains Belize’s greatest unsolved mystery. Duane Moody for News Five.

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3 Responses for “Revisiting Greatest Unsolved Murder Mystery – “Belizean Jack the Ripper””

  1. Marie says:

    If police had done their job properly, this fool should have been arrested and charged. Hopefully he is found and street justice he will receive.

  2. Khadedra Conorque says:

    This is so sad. It brings tears to my eyes. How could someone be so gruesome to such innocent girl. They had so much to live for and be someone in life. So many lives were changed and filled with horrible memories of hearing such bad news. I sincerely pray for Belize.

  3. Frustrated says:

    Like seriously…noone literally got charged..,I believe that I know who jack is…and its a matter of time before the truth comes to light…I’ll be praying for strength my god will be by my side

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