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Feb 18, 2014

Body of cab driver, Lester Rowland, retrieved from vat at his home

Lester Rowland

There was significant progress made in the citrus industry today with an agreement to reconfigure the Board of Citrus Products of Belize Limited. We’ll have all those details coming up but first we go to the story of a Belize City family who is coming to grips with the death of their loved one whose body was found inside a vat. The brother of Lester Rowland told us on Monday night that Lester had been missing and he was last seen on February thirteenth, but that he had not reported to work even prior to that. Several hours later on Monday night, the body of the sixty-one year old taxi driver was retrieved from a vat in the yard of his house on Guerrero Street. The vat was cracked and mauled and an excavator was used to pull out the body at about four this afternoon. The circumstance in which the body was found suggests that Lester was murdered. Isani Cayetano has been following the story and has this report.


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The discovery of a lifeless body inside a concrete tank on Monday evening, believed to be the remains of Lester Rowland, who was reported missing by his family a few hours earlier, is being investigated by Belize City police as a possible homicide.  Doggy or Lester Yorke, as the popular cab driver was known to friends and family, was last seen on Thursday, despite not reporting to work several days prior.


Mark Humes

Mark Humes, Chairman, Bus Terminal & Market Square Taxi Co-op

“We have records that he came to work and signed in the seventh of February, which is a Friday.  Members, when we checked back, members said they saw him on Saturday, which was the eighth and because he was missing we went back and did some investigation.  We found out that family members saw him up until Thursday of last week and from that moment nobody had ever seen him.”


Lester’s disappearance was made public on Monday, when his sibling Steven Rowland came to the media asking for assistance in locating him.  His vehicle, a white Ford Crown Victoria, had just been found in a ditch at the corners of Fabers and Krooman roads.  Police were immediately summoned to the area to process the scene.


Steven Rowland

Steven Rowland, Brother of Deceased

“The vehicle was picked up and thereafter, right after that, I was informed after they went to where my brother resides on Guerrero Street that there might possibly be somebody in a vat in the same yard.”


It would later be confirmed that the corpse inside the vat was indeed that of Lester Rowland.  The ghastly encounter raises numerous questions and answers aren’t quite as forthcoming.  How did the body of the sixty-one-year-old end up inside a vat?  Who was driving his vehicle before leaving it abandoned on the other side of the city?


Mark Humes

“One of our members saw his car and we verified it was his vehicle.  That was about after three, between three and four yesterday evening.  We came on the scene and we already felt [that] something was wrong.  It wasn’t right because he was missing for days and then his car was being driven.  So we didn’t feel good about it when we came on the scene.”


Rowland’s neighbors jokingly remarked that they had observed a vulture circling above the residence on Monday, in addition to a quaint smell in the area.  They did not, however, think that it was the decaying corpse of the missing man.  While a subsequent police report classifies the matter as a sudden death, Steven strongly believes his older brother was murdered.


Steven Rowland

“Definitely, I’m certain that my brother is not crazy and he’s not going to put himself in there if it’s him that is in there.  I’m certain about that piece.”


Isani Cayetano

“And your suspicions are heightened because of the discovery of the vehicle a distance away.”


Steven Rowland

“Of course! Definitely yes.  Definitely yes, a lot of suspicions.”


Isani Cayetano

“Now was your brother living alone?  Was he occupying a residence with other people?”


Steven Rowland

“His wife just left about six months ago, and son, back to Los Angeles, you know, and so he has been pretty much a lone ranger since then.”


The motive for his death, if it is certified that his life was indeed taken, is mired in conjecture.  Residents who gathered at the scene this morning theorized that he may have been killed by someone with whom he shared the two-storey wooden structure.


Mark Humes

“It was terrible.  It was horrific.  We were bracing for the worst but expecting better and I wasn’t on site when that happened, I got a call and we had to accept the fact that he was dead and so it’s sad.  It’s a sad situation.”


Shortly before four o’clock this afternoon, a team of forensic specialists, Scenes of Crimes personnel and CIB officers returned to the scene where they extricated the skeletal remains of Lester Rowland using an excavator.  A post mortem examination, as we understand, was scheduled to be conducted on site due to the advanced state of decomposition.  Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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