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Jun 21, 2019

Triple Murder at Sea; Bodies of 3 Fishermen Recovered

There is yet another triple murder in less than three weeks, this time at sea. Three of five fishermen have been murdered, shot to death and their bodies dumped in the Caribbean Sea. Within fifteen hours, the decomposing bodies have been retrieved and immediately following the post-mortem exams, have been buried. The victims include the boat captain, Ernest Wills Senior and uncle and nephew, Winston Santos and Travis Cooke. The first discovery was made late Thursday afternoon and with the help of the media, the bodies have been identified. News Five’s Duane Moody reports.


Travis Cooke

Duane Moody, Reporting

Within fifteen hours, the bodies of three Belize City men who went out on a fishing trip were discovered floating in the Caribbean Sea; two at Swallow Caye, which is located about three miles from Belize City and the other in the water near Reggae Street in Belize City.  On Thursday evening, the body of Travis Cooke was discovered with a single gunshot wound to the head floating near the popular fishing camp.


Alejandro Cowo

ASP Alejandro Cowo, O.C., C.I.B., Belize City

“They found in the sea, a body floating which was clothed with a black shirt and a black and burgundy in colour boxers. The body was retrieved and police observed that it had an apparent gunshot wound to the body. It was brought to Belize City and thereafter transported to the medical college at the Burrell Boom junction where a post-mortem was conducted. Whilst the police was conducting the post-mortem along with the doctor, a family member arrived and identified the body as that of Travis Cooke, a twenty-three-year-old Belizean of a Holy Emmanuel Street address.”


Cooke died as a result of traumatic shock from gunshot wounds and due to the advanced state of decomposition, family members told News Five that he was buried after one o’clock this morning.

Ernest Wills Sr.

By six a.m. today, another body was retrieved. Ernest Wills Senior, who was the captain of the boat, was found dead in the sea near Yarborough. The forty-nine-year-old fisherman of Mahogany Street returned on Monday from collecting lobsters. On Tuesday morning, he and four men, including Cooke, Winston Santos, Jammar Martinez and Allison Jones set out to sea on a fishing trip. Around six-thirty on Wednesday morning was the last time anyone had contact with the men, when Wills Senior called his common-law-wife. His children, Erica Wills and Ernest Junior, say that from then, their father’s phone went unanswered and this morning, their worst fears were confirmed.


Erica Wills

Erica Wills, Daughter of Deceased

“My mom called me after ten and tell me, “Gial yo know something, yo pa dead.” I say, “No ma. My pa noh dead.” Ih say yes, yo pa dead. Ih say ih gone dah caye and then dehn say that ih dead. The young man weh dehn find mi deh with yo pa. I say, “No ma, my pa noh dead cause I mi wah feel it.” So when I gone dah work this morning, I just mi have wah vibes. And I say, if dah m y pa, dehn wah find my pa today. Please make dehn find my pa today. And so said, so done and I gone to the morgue and the police come and dehn put it up on the Facebook and I identify that that dah mi my pa with a female tattoo on ih shoulder. I know that dah my pa cause I just feel my heart start to flutter and I tell dehn that’s my father. My father just leave four children behind—two girls and two boys—and one granddaughter. I don’t know why people have to take away my father is a loving person; my father is a fisherman from I know myself.”


Ernest Wills Jr., Son of Deceased

“Every morning, when he is not at caye, I go and hail him and we talk, we joke; we mess around and things.”


Erica Wills

“Whoever take away my father, God knows and God will help you and God will deal with you. I am telling you, you just take away an innocent man from us.”


Winston Santos

ASP Alejandro Cowo

“At about six-thirty this morning, police were called to Reggae Street at the sea side where police, upon arrival, observed the decomposed body of a male person floating on the sea side. The person was dressed in a khaki shirt and a khaki and three-quarter pants. The person was faced down and as a result, police retrieved the body. Just after dealing with that body, police received another information of another body floating north of Swallow Caye; it is the same distance, about three miles off Belize City. So as a result, police proceeded to that location and somewhere in the mangrove, police were able to observed the body of a male person floating on the sea only clothed with a black boxers. Police retrieved the body and  the body was transported to the medical centre where again family members arrived and identified the body as that of Mister Winston Santos, forty years Belizean of corner Mopan and St. Jude’s Street. All the bodies had apparent gunshot wounds on it.”


Allison Jones & Jammar Martinez

So where are Jammar Martinez and Allison Jones? They remain unaccounted for at this time and police say that their families have yet to report them missing. It is known, however, that they were on the fishing trip with the deceased men and were expected to return either today or Saturday. Did they suffer the same fate and their bodies too will soon surface?


ASP Alejandro Cowo

“The information that we have received is that it was a group of fishermen that had left from Belize City en route to one of the cayes, which is about ten miles from Belize City where they are fishing for lobster. And I believe that they departed on Tuesday morning and the last time it was heard from them was Wednesday at about six in the morning.”



“How many persons were in that initial group?”


ASP Alejandro Cowo

“This is something that we are trying to establish at this moment. Those are the only three bodies that we have found so far. We know that, according to interviews conducted with other family members, we understands that there is a possibility of two more persons being with them.”


So what could have motivated the vicious crime against these fishermen? ASP Alejandro Cowo says that investigators are looking for clues, including that the murders may be drug-related.


ASP Alejandro Cowo

“It is something that we cannot discard and it is possibility that we are looking at also, likewise.”



“Is it believed that these men were involved in some kind of illicit activity out at sea?”


ASP Alejandro Cowo

“As I had mentioned, I explained to you, that we have interviewed the family members and they had indicated to us that they were there at a certain caye conducting fishing…that’s what they have been doing for the past two weeks.”


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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