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Feb 25, 2000

Teen’s murder investigated – Police seek informant

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The day after the body of 14-year-old Noemi Hernandez was found, police called a press conference to talk about how they are going to handle this, the 4th murder of a Belize City girl. It is actually the 5th if you include the unexplained death of Samantha Gordon. While the police pathologist Dr. Mario Estradabran is trying to determine if there are physical similarities between Noemi’s death and those of Sherilee Nicholas, Jackie Fern Malic, and Erica Wills, the police say they are facing the same problem this time around: public silence. It was clear today that what may be frustrating investigators most is that the same people who didn’t “know” anything when Noemi disappeared on February 15th, are now able to provide all sorts of details about her life. But it is these details that the police want–and need–to solve this crime and maybe prevent another.

Jacqueline Woods, Reporting

Police say they have put together a special team of detectives to investigate the murder of Noemi Hernandez and all the other child murders that have taken place over the past two years. But Carmen Zetina the Assistant Commissioner of Police says that now more than ever the police need the public to come forward with anything that may help them in the investigation. As an incentive the business community is also coming together to offer a reward.

Carmen Zetina, Assistant Commissioner of Police

“Now what will happen is that this investigation…you have a lead investigator in the person of Inspector Blackett but you have senior officers over seeing that. You have Mr. Senior Superintendent Bernard Lino who is actually the head of National Crimes Investigation Branch and Mr. Vernon here, Inspector Vernon who is actually the Head of Crimes Investigation Branch for Belize City Eastern Division, so we are working on that. At this time we don’t have any suspect, but what we would like to ask is for the public cooperate with us, to assist us. We are going to set up a hotline at any time now; it is in the process now. The business community have taken the initiative and so far they have come up with a $5,000 reward leading to the arrest and conviction of any case in which a child was murdered.”

At this time police cannot say if the Hernandez murder is connected to the other child murders. Mario Vernon, Head of CIB said what they do know is that all indications are that Hernandez never went on an errand that would have taken her to a house on Mosul street to collect rent money.

Mario Vernon, Head of CIB

“A letter was found in her left, front trousers pocket. It was a sort of pro-former type of receipt, whereby it seemed that when she would have collected the rent, she would then hand over the receipt. From all indications, she never reached the house in question.”

Vernon said the Federal Bureau of Investigation is involved in the investigation of the other murders, and they will be in on this one.

Mario Vernon

“Okay we have an ongoing relationship. It is very good at this time; they have supported us in the past favorably. In regards to the child murders, certainly they are on to it and they will get their share, where this particular case is concerned also. What I can say from the previous case, is that we have been in recent dialog with them after sending them all that was required in the first instance. And now they are asking for some more assistance from the Belize Police Department. If I must, I can tell you that it is in regards to aerial photographing of the specific areas that these bodies were found. They have some reason why they are asking for this and we will facilitate that.”

It is not known at this time how long Hernandez’s body, which was found by the Haulover Bridge, was in the water, but the Police Pathologist believes she was killed six to eight days ago.

Police will be establishing a hotline next week to help anyone who wants to give police information. They will also release the bank account number if you would like to contribute to the reward fund.

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