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Dec 12, 2017

The Year 2017 in Crime

The following story is about the 2017 murder count. Soon after it was calculated at one hundred and thirty-three, the count went up this afternoon by one with the murder of Israel Chuc. It means that there are four less than last year with nineteen days more to go to the end of 2017.  The Belize District has so far recorded the highest number of murders; more than eighty so far, with the Cayo District trailing with twenty-six homicides. Murders are gruesome, but there were some particularly grizzly executions this year.  News Five’s Duane Moody reports.


Duane Moody, Reporting

It is almost the end of the year and the murder statistics for 2017 is at one hundred and thirty-three homicides; that’s five less than the 2016 stats, which recorded a total of one hundred and thirty-eight murders.  A whopping eighty-one of those occurred in the Belize District; Cayo shows twenty-five, followed by Corozal with eleven, Orange Walk nine, Stann Creek five and Punta Gorda recorded the least with two murders.

The most sensational that gripped the nation, and our social media friends, was the beheading of Hilton Wade. It’s the second such gruesome discovery made in recent times; in July 2016, Pastor Llewellyn Lucas’ head was found in a bucket in a vehicle belonging to William Danny Mason. But in the case of Wade, his head was left in the open under a bus shed half a mile from where his mutilated body was found. Two men were charged for his murder and it is believed that the killing was motivated by a land dispute.


Alejandro Cowo

ASP Alejandro Cowo, O.C., C.I.B., Belize City [File: November 30th, 2017]

“There are several leads that we are following as to many complaints from the villagers as to his behavior and other things that might have resulted in his death, you know.  So far that is all I can tell you in regards to that investigation. We are trying to get the people from the Lands Department to confirm exactly, to verify who is the owner of that actual premises there.”


2017 saw several double murders in Belize District and up north in Corozal. The Baron Bliss Day weekend begun with the mid-afternoon execution of Godwin Panting and Albert Wade; their bodies were discovered within feet of each other off the George Price Highway near miles twelve and a half.


But it was the back-to-back double murders of couples: Drew DeVoursney and Francesca Matus and Zeidy Orozco and Baltazar Lopez that shook the peaceful northernmost district of Corozal. On May first and then on June seventh the decomposing bodies of the couples were discovered in a cane field off the Chan Chen Road and at a dumpsite on the Consejo Road, respectively. In both instances, residents were joined by police in days of searching for the missing couples before the gruesome discoveries were made.

Francesca Matus & Drew DeVoursney

The Canadian American Couple DeVoursney and Matus were to leave the country the day after they were last seen alive. They were bound at the wrists and their bodies were found six days after they were reported missing by a friend.


Dennis Arnold

Supt. Dennis Arnold, O.C., Corozal Police Formation [File: May 2nd, 2017]

“It’s about a mile and a half on the main road and a mile in a feeder road in a cane field, yes we had saw the two bodies—the male is partially on top of the female. Scenes of Crime were called in, scene was processed; the body was in an advance state of decomposition where the doctors were called in and the autopsy was done on site. Upon conclusion of the autopsy, the doctors conclude that the cause of death was massive strangulation.”


Both cases remain unresolved and no one has been held responsible for these killings.

Gang rivalry and the murders associated with urban warfare continue to grip the Old Capital. Of the eighty-one murders in the Belize District, sixty-five were in the city alone. Thirty-seven of those were in the last six months of the year, particularly within the south side jurisdiction. The victims were youngsters, taxi operators and even a mentally challenged woman and man.  A Bangladeshi and a Chinese national were also killed in separate incidents in the city. In four years, there hadn’t been a murder of an Asian national, but on September twenty-fifth, Bainan Wu was executed in an attempted robbery of his shop at the corner of Santa Barbara and Vernon Streets.


Edmund Kwan

Edmund Kwan, Chairman, Belize Chinese Association [File: September 26th, 2017]

“He has been in Belize for quite some time, close to twenty years.  He kept very much to himself.  We don’t really know much about him.  He stayed in his little shop and he did his everyday business and it so happened that tragedy came to his doorsteps. We are very concerned about the situation.  We’re asking the police to please conduct a thorough investigation into this matter and we hope that the person that did this horrible act gets charged and, you know, let the law take its [course].”


In the aftermath of the homicide, the Chinese business community staged a lockdown in protest of the killing.

Faye Lin Cannon

But public outrage was fast and furious in the case of Faye Lin Cannon. While it hasn’t been classified as murder, the telltale signs were all too familiar. The thirteen-year-old was discovered dead inside her adoptive parents’ condo in north San Pedro; her chest had been crushed and a postmortem revealed that she had been sexually abused multiple times over an extended period and she had been drugged. Her parents, David and Anke Doehm, were subsequently charged, but not for murder. Even to date, residents believe that the system failed young Faye Lin.


Shelley Arceo Huber, Resident [File: July 7th, 2017]

“I saw it and many people saw it.”


Andrea Polanco

“Did you ever report it?”


Shelley Arceo Huber

Shelley Arceo Huber

“I called the American Embassy and they told me that they were going to come. And they never came.”


Andrea Polanco

“This is three and a half years ago?”


Shelley Arceo Huber

“Three and a half years ago. I called the Human Service from San Pedro and he never came.”


Andrea Polanco

“Do you feel that the system failed this child?”


David & Anke Doehm

Shelley Arceo Huber

“The system has failed the entire community because this is not the only child. The abuse and incest in this community is out of control. We want no mercy for these people, but I condemn the authorities for not doing anything.”


Months later, on October fifth, David Doehm committed suicide; Anke is yet to stand trial for Child Cruelty.  Duane Moody for News Five.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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