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Jan 13, 2020

The Tomb of an Orange Walk Resident is Vandalized and His Body Exhumed

Emil Escalante

Less than twenty-four hours after the body of Emil Escalante was laid to rest over the weekend, the tomb at the cemetery in Orange Walk was broken into and his casket opened. It occurred overnight and relatives are questioning who could be behind such a vile act and why.  Outside of the vandalism, which police are investigating, information surfaced that Escalante, who is a member of the LGBTI community, was also the victim of a vicious beat down back in November. While the family believes that the death of the twenty-seven-year-old may be as a result of the beating, this has not been substantiated.  News Five’s Duane Moody reports.


Duane Moody, Reporting

An Orange Walk family has twice buried their loved one in less than twenty-four hours. Emil Escalante succumbed on January ninth, just five days shy of his twenty-eighth birthday. His body was laid to rest on January twelfth around two p.m. and by this morning, relatives discovered that his tomb had been vandalized; his coffin was taken out and broken open. Shocked by the news, Victor Castillo says he hurried back to Orange Walk where his cousin had to be buried for a second time.


Victor Castillo

Victor Castillo, Cousin of Deceased

“You can imagine, driving this morning to work and getting a call that your loved one’s tomb was broken into and have his remains exposed to anyone who can pass and see—invading the intimacy of the family. Yesterday, we went through the process of putting him to rest, which we thought would have been eternal rest, and getting the news this morning that someone has tampered with his tomb, went to the extreme of dragging him out and having him on the ground, it is ridiculous.”


Joseph Myvett

ACP Joseph Myvett, Head, National Crimes Investigation Branch

“This morning sometime around 6:45 a.m., Orange Walk police were called to the cemetery on San Antonio Road in Orange Walk Town where they observed a tomb that was opened along with a casket which was beside the tomb and the human remains of Emil Escalante. The family was informed and I believe the issue was taken up and he was buried back.”



“Is there any indication of what could be the motive for such a vile act?”


ACP Joseph Myvett

“No, at this point in time, we do not know, but our officers are on the ground investigating to try and determine a motive why he would have been removed from where he was already buried.”


The family questions whether the vandalism was triggered by Escalante’s sexuality.


Victor Castillo

“That’s the question as a family perspective that we are trying to figure out—why? Who? When did it happen?  Everybody knew Emil had his sexual preference. We as a family, we accepted Emil as how he was; we didn’t have any problem. Yes, we would advise him, take care, be careful where you go; remember you are not loved by everyone in the community. Yesterday we had members of the LGBT [community] that came and paid their respects. They were welcomed; they attended the service, they sat there with us, we went through the service, we walked down the streets because it was welcoming for them to come and be a part of it. The funeral, the process went well, everybody went home. When we got there, we noticed—and I am not making a big issue of it if it was because of that [I am not pointing fingers there]—that the wreath that the members of the LGBT brought was twist to an extent that you could see that it is someone with hate that did it. I don’t know why.”


Escalante had been hospitalized for almost two months before he succumbed. The attending physician at the Northern Regional Hospital says that he died from brain toxoplasmosis.

But an investigation is ongoing because back on November fourth, the twenty-seven-year-old was involved in a fight and was reportedly struck over the head. Less than a week later, Escalante was hospitalized and soon after slipped into a coma. According to Castillo, the doctor was unable to determine if the beating led to Escalante’s death.


Victor Castillo

“Emil was badly beaten, especially one particular media house just seconds ago we read about it that Emil was badly beaten by a family member within the house. We cannot attest to it.  We understand that Emil was badly beaten sometime in November, but it is like every ordinary street fight. The details of the story I don’t know, how he got involved in that fight, what exactly happened. Never did show any signs of injuries to the extent that it would be alerting for us to take actions into it. One Sunday, I can recall Emil came home, he had lunch, he went back. Midnight, they tell us that Emil started to act differently like going into a seizure. So we rushed him to the Northern Regional Hospital and ever since Emil went into that coma. We did the medical procedure where we did a cat-scan and everything and the CT scan showed that Emil had approximately eighty to eighty-five percent of his brain covered with what the doctor explained to us is like a fungus which impeded his brain to continue functioning the way it should function.”


ACP Joseph Myvett

“We also heard of some information that he was beaten up, but as far as we know, no report has been made to the police either by himself or by any of his family members.”



“I know that if someone reaches the hospital beaten up, the hospital is duty bound to call the police….”


ACP Joseph Myvett

“They would have had some record to show that, but that was not the case.”


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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