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Jul 5, 2016

An Arson in Mahogany Heights; Is it Related to the Murder of Jasmine Petillo?

A family of eleven in Mahogany Heights is tonight homeless after the place they called home was gutted by fire this morning. Sometime around five a.m., Elstwin Willoughby, his wife and their eleven children and grandchildren were the victims of an inferno that is believed to have been deliberately set. But was the fire retaliatory?  On Monday, Rural Eastern Division Police told the media that they had identified the house where they believe the brutal killing of Jasmine Petillo took place in the community. News Five understands that the suspect initially detained by police for that murder is a close relative of the Willoughbys and lives next door. Following the homicide, a threat of arson was reportedly levied by the family of the murder victim. News Five’s Duane Moody reports.


Duane Moody, Reporting

Sometime around five o’clock this morning, forty-four year old Elstwin Willoughby and his wife, Karen received a call that their home in Mahogany Heights was on fire. The family had been visiting with relatives in the city and was to return home today when they got the bad news. Now, the couple and their nine children and two grandchildren are without a roof over their heads. By the time firefighters were notified of the fire, the building had already been gutted.


Orin Smith

Orin Smith, Station Manager, National Fire Service

“The Belmopan Branch of the National Fire Service received information from police that there had been a fire in Mahogany Heights over the night. Two members of the National Fire Service, Belize City and two officers of the Hattieville Police Precinct traveled to Mahogany Heights to conduct an investigation into the cause of the fire. On arrival, we had seen a twenty-one by thirty-two stucco bungalow residential structure with a wooden shingle roof destroyed by fire. The information obtained is that the structure was owned by Mister Willoughby and was occupied by Mister Willoughby, his wife and nine children to include two grandchildren. They were not at home at the time the fire had occurred. The preliminary investigation revealed that the fire originated on the south-west of the structure. We had not conclude the investigation as at the time the structure was still pretty hot and we could not enter therein to ascertain the cause of the fire.”


While the investigation by the National Fire Service continues to determine the cause of the blaze, police say that their investigation is indicating that the fire is a case of arson.


Edward Broaster

ACP Edward Broaster, Regional Commander, Rural Eastern Division

“Based on the information and the investigation that had been carried out in Mahogany Heights by the police officers, they determined that entry was gained from a bedroom window where a burglar bar was removed and the house was set alit.”


Duane Moody

“Sir did police receive information that the owner of the house had been threatened prior to this; that the house would have been burned?”


ACP Edward Broaster

“…not to my knowledge.”


Jasmine Petillo

But, is this incident an act of retaliation for the recent murder of Jasmine Petillo?


ACP Edward Broaster

“Initial investigation reveal that it may somewhat be tied to that incident, yes.”


Duane Moody

“Now sir, we understand that the house that you spoke of yesterday, in terms of where Miss Petillo is believed to have been killed; that this house is adjacent to the one that was burnt down. That in fact, the person that occupied that house is related to the Willoughby’s. Is that the case?”


ACP Edward Broaster

“I will not comment on that at this time.”


Duane Moody for News Five.

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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1 Response for “An Arson in Mahogany Heights; Is it Related to the Murder of Jasmine Petillo?”

  1. Jane says:

    obviously police have no control over this situation

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