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Jun 27, 2002

Robbery becomes murder with victim’s death

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What started out as just one more unsolved assault and burglary has now turned into a case of murder. News 5′s Jacqueline Woods has the story of a distraught family that is hoping viewers can provide some badly needed answers.

Jacqueline Woods, Reporting

One week ago, sixty-four year old Cleophas Burgess was relaxing in the safety of his home at number 164 Neal Penn Road. But shortly after 10:00 that Wednesday night a person or persons entered the house, attacked him and left Burgess for dead at the bottom of his back steps. A bucket had been placed over Burgess’ head and both of his hands had been tied. A neighbour, who was alerted by the noise, called 911 and the police soon arrived on the scene.

Sharon Burgess, Daughter

“It seems like he was hurt. He was gagged, they say that they had a bucket over his head and he was unconscious. When I came here, he was on the ground downstairs lying on his belly. He had a chop over his left temple, down to his ears and he was bruised in the head. It seems as if they beat him with a stick or something.”

The house had been ransacked and several electronic items including a television and VCR were stolen. The police did manage to find the stereo system stashed away in some nearby bushes. On the following Tuesday night, the police strongly suspect that the same culprits went back to the house…only this time they forced themselves into the building.

Sharon Burgess

“It seems as if they broke open the door. Take sense out of nonsense, you would tell me that no one that is so close to this house didn’t hear anything? The wrenching and all of that that they had to do to get that front door open?”

Sadly, Burgess never did recover from his injuries. On Wednesday, he died at the K.H.M.H. The family says at the time of the assault, Burgess, who had only one hand, was partially paralysed and could not speak well. But despite his disabilities, the well-known retired businessman did manage to struggle with his attackers.

Jacqueline Woods

“According to Burgess, her father’s hand had several scratches, and one of his fingers was broken. Today, the police are treating the case as a murder but have yet to arrest anyone for the brutal crime.”

Sharon Burgess

“What I don’t understand is the back door was opened and my father never ever leave his back door open. The front door was chained as it normally is. When me or any of my family, my aunts come to visit him, he normally peeps through his window, see who is coming and he open the front door for us even me and my aunt. When we came here, when I came here, the police said that the back door was open and I said I don’t understand why unless he knew this person and opened that door for him.”

Following the attack, the police detained two persons but because Burgess was unable to identify them, both young men were released after three days.

Sharon Burgess

“It’s alarming how neighbours could live like this in this time and age. It is disgusting and it’s terrible to see how we are living today and it hurts very much.”

The family is appealing to the public to help the police catch their father’s killer or killers.

Sharon Burgess

“I believe that somebody know. The way he moaned and I thank that neighbour who had a heart and called 911 that night. My heart goes out to them because he would have died right here you know and I thank them very much. But for some of the neighbours knew or heard, they do nothing, they say nothing and they knew who might have done it.”

Cleophas Burgess for most of his life, served many people from the neighbourhood through his grocery shop which was located on the lower flat of the residence. It is sad to think that someone who may have been known or helped by Burgess, killed him. Reporting for News 5, I’m Jacqueline Woods.

Viewers who have information that could help crack this case are asked to call the C.I.B. office in Belize City.

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