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Jan 10, 2014

One-on-one with resort owner kidnapped in the West

Kathen & Manisha Kotay

A pair of siblings on vacation in the Cayo District was kidnapped but rescued on Thursday morning by the police with the cooperation of residents from Bullet Tree Falls. The four abductors are still at large and two are believed to have been involved in the murder of Canadian national Brian Townsend.  One suspect is likely from the area.  Kathen and Manisha Kotay are recovering from the ordeal that occurred when they left the Parrot’s Nest along with its owner Theo Cocchi. Cocchi was behind the steering wheel of the vehicle when three armed men emerged from the nearby bushes and stopped them.  They were driven through the village before the Kotays were ordered out of the vehicle.  Cocchi was then instructed to get the ransom money but she bravely alerted the police and residents. Cocchi spoke to News Five’s Isani Cayetano today reliving the horrible experience.


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The traumatic experience of being snatched at gunpoint by a duo of dangerous bandits is a memory that will remain with forty-three-year-old Theo Cocchi.  The proprietor of Parrot’s Nest, a quaint, off the beaten path lodge in Bullet Tree Falls had just offered her guests a ride to San Ignacio and was making her way along a dirt road, beneath a canopy of trees, when they were pounced upon.


Voice of: Theo Cocchi, Proprietor, Parrot’s Nest Lodge

“They pulled out a gun and they came to my door and opened my door and the next one went around and got in the backseat and he told me to climb through the center console and I went in the backseat and the one next to me had a gun while the other one started driving my car.”


Inside the vehicle was eighteen-year-old Kathen Kotay and his sister Manisha.  The siblings are on vacation and were on their way to town when they were held captive.  They kept driving along the Bullet Tree Road.


Voice of: Theo Cocchi

“And so we drove through the village during school hours, you know, there’s lots of people on the street.  They turned and they wanted to go to Paslow Falls Road [but] my car stalled out on them, they couldn’t drive it.  They wanted the other people, the two guests to drive it [but] neither one of them knew how to drive so they put me to drive it again and then they just drive down Paslow Falls maybe, I don’t know, three miles.  In the meantime he was explaining what he wanted from me.”


A ransom of seventy-five thousand dollars, was being demanded of Cocchi, along with a warning that if she alerted the authorities her guests would both be killed.


Voice of: Theo Cocchi

“So they took my two guests as hostages and they let me go.  Then I hightailed, flooring it home, and well the rest is phone calls to the neighbors and the police and the boys in the neighborhood came down in record time like not even three minutes and there was a team of guys from my neighborhood out here.”


Among them was Special Constable Chris Cariddi.  He suspects that the kidnapping was orchestrated by a pair of fugitives working together with Guatemalan outlaws to carry out the plot.


Chris Cariddi

Chris Cariddi, Rescuer

“From reports that the police were talking about they have been indicating that they may have teamed up some Guatemalans up by El Pilar to conduct this thing and at this point that’s still unconfirmed, speculation because it’s a four-man team.  And the way that they moved and the way that they knew the village for them to be able to know, right, had to be a villager or an ex-villager of this village because of the trails that we were on aren’t known trails.”


After systematically combing the area the team of responders, including police and military personnel, as well as members of the public, was able to locate the siblings in separate locations.


Jonathan Cariddi

Jonathan Cariddi, Rescuer

“The combination of civilians and the police working hand in hand, I think, is what saved those guys lives.”


Isani Cayetano

“Describe to me the assailants.  Are they people familiar to you in terms of one particular individual, they are saying, is from the Bullet Tree Falls area?”


Voice of: Theo Cocchi

“I don’t know.  I don’t know, you know, I didn’t recognize them as boys from the area.  I mean, I see everybody, I see them when I am driving.  I didn’t recognize them, I thought that they looked, you know, I was wondering what they were doing on my road but they were well dressed, you know.  They didn’t look like shady people, you know.”


While the village has since returned to normalcy, the frightening ordeal, says Cocchi, may not leave her guests too distressed.


Voice of: Theo Cocchi

“Their reaction, you know, they were positive.  They were really positive and even though it’s a terrible thing that happened everything ended well and they’re not going home scarred for life but they are going home shaken.  But they had a good experience all except for that in Belize.  They loved their trip.”


Isani Cayetano

“Do you feel as though this incident will affect your business or do you…  What‘s your feeling or your position on something like that?”


Voice of: Theo Cocchi

“It’s a terrible thing that happened.  I hope it doesn’t happen again.  I don’y know what’s wrong with these people nowadays why there’s so much crime.  I’ve never had a problem back at Parrot’s Nest.  I don’t see, it will maybe affect because everything goes public but it is what it is, we’ll deal with it as it comes.  We’ll certainly inform our guests.  We’ll do what we can to upgrade a little bit, we’re a small business.  That’s all I can do.”


Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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 “One-on-one with resort owner kidnapped in the West”

  1. Hatari says:

    Isn’t this how it started back in 2006/7? It’s that time of year. You better watch your back.

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