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Feb 8, 2018

Cotton Tree Duo: Cruz Castillo and Stanley Herrera Jr. Arraigned for the Murder of Israel Perez

Cruz Castillo & Stanley Herrera Jr.

These the two men were arraigned this afternoon in the Belmopan Magistrate’s Court for the murder of Immigration clerk, Israel Perez.  Cotton Tree residents, Cruz Castillo and Stanley Herrera Junior, were known to the murder victim and Police proceeded to levy charges after they found Perez’s vehicle as well as other items on Castillo. He has also been charged with handling stolen goods. This afternoon as they were escorted to court; to avoid the media, they hid their faces behind their shirts. Even though they were handcuffed together and escorted by police, Castillo went on to fire a kick at Plus TV’s Louis Wade, who was covering the arraignment. Perez is well-known in Belmopan where he worked for at least five years at the Nationality Section of the Immigration Department.  After he had gone missing for at least a week, his decomposing body was found dumped inside a shallow grave at Harmonyville, a community not far from where he lived in Saint Mathews Village. He wore only a boxer and was stabbed multiple times on the chest and abdomen.  News Five’s Duane Moody reports.


Israel Perez

Duane Moody, Reporting

Two days after the decomposing body of twenty-seven-year-old Israel Perez was discovered in a shallow grave in Harmonyville, police cracked the case. A total of three persons were detained during the course of the investigation and after several searches and tests conducted, a file was forwarded to the D.P.P. for murder charges to be levied.


ACP Joseph Myvett, Head, National Crimes Investigation Branch

“Reference the stabbing death of Israel Perez in the Cotton Tree area, police investigation has led to the detention of two persons for which charges are forthcoming later today.”



“Are these people he may have known?”


ACP Joseph Myvett

“Yes those are persons he was familiar with.”


Joseph Myvett

Andrea Polanco

“Sir, is there anything to say about what motivated this killing?”


ACP Joseph Myvett

“So far, no. We are still working the investigation.”


Andrea Polanco

“Now, we know that he was missing for about a week. Have you all been able to put together a timeline to determine when he was killed?”


ACP Joseph Myvett

“So far not yet.”


Andrea Polanco

“His vehicle, I believe, was found at a house?”


ACP Joseph Myvett

“Yes that is impounded in police custody.”


Andrea Polanco

“I am not sure if the family indicated to you if he had any personal belongings on him when he left home; but did the police find any of his personal items?”


ACP Joseph Myvett

“Yes. That is a part of the investigation – some items that were found.”


Andrea Polanco

“Those were found where he was buried or inside his vehicle?”


ACP Joseph Myvett

“No. No they were found elsewhere.”


Andrea Polanco

“With – in someone’s possession?”


ACP Joseph Myvett




“Has it been determined where he was killed?”


ACP Joseph Myvett

“At this time I don’t want to go deeper into the investigation as it is still in its early stage.”


By midday today, charges were slapped on two Cotton Tree residents. Thirty-three-year-old Cruz Castillo, who was initially charged on Wednesday for handling stolen goods, and twenty-two-year-old Stanley Herrera Junior were jointly charged for the vicious murder of Perez.

Just before three p.m. today they were brought in front of Magistrate Ladonna John and arraigned for the crime. Within minutes, they were escorted into a police van and taken to the Belize Central Prison in Hattieville. The investigating team in Belmopan worked around the clock gathering concrete evidence including the recovery of the vehicle, chain, television, stereo, three pairs of footwear and other belongings of the deceased. Also taken into evidence were two shovels believed to have been used to dig the grave where Perez’s body was buried after his limbs were bound and he was stabbed multiple times to the chest. The murder weapon, however, has not been recovered.

It is a very overwhelming time for the family, especially because Perez and Cruz grew up together as brothers at King’s Children’s Home in Cotton Tree Village. Late this evening, Orlando Perez says that after two weeks of torture, the family finally has closure.


Voice of: Orlando Perez, Brother of Deceased

“We feel relief and hopefully, it’s just the first successful step that will lead to a conviction. But we feel relief and obviously we feared for our lives so with him being behind bars, we feel better now and that’s all I can say right now.”



“And I am sure it came as a shock because Cruz is close to the family?”


Voice of: Orlando Perez

“Yes ma’am; yes ma’am.”


While Castillo and Herrera Junior have been remanded until April twelfth for the murder of Israel, police say that a motive for the crime has still not been established, but it is believed that robbery is a factor.  Duane Moody for News Five.


Today, the police issued an updated postmortem report which states that Perez died of exsanguination due to internal and external bleeding and injuries to the lung and liver caused by multiple stab wounds.

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