Headline — 19 January 2016 — by Albert J. Ciego
2016’s terrible start – bloody, murderous weekend

INDIAN CHURCH, Orange Walk District, Mon. Jan. 18, 2016–The year 2016 has started badly, with a record 10 people being murdered so far – with four of these murders occurring just over the past weekend alone. The body of an American woman was found floating in the Mopan River in San Jose Succotz on Friday morning; then a chopping murder occurred on Saturday; another man was found chopped to death on Sunday, and early Monday morning, a man chopped his wife to death.

The murder of Elizabeth Ann McComb Swaney, 39, a television news executive of ABC 7 News of Chicago, USA, who was on a 7-day vacation at the Nabitunich Stone Cottages Resort in San Jose Succotz, Cayo District, began the weekend’s mayhem. Her body was found floating in the Mopan River, about 6 feet from the river bank, at about 8:00 Friday morning, with strangulation marks around her neck, but it is believed she may have been murdered the previous evening, Thursday, January 14.

Another incident of murder occurred in San Pedro. At about 1:11 on Saturday afternoon, Sergio Giovanni Uribio, 35, a laborer of San Pedrito, San Pedro, was rushed to the San Pedro Polyclinic with a large stab wound to the left side of his neck and the left arm. Doctors at the clinic tried to help him, but he was declared dead at about 1:30 p.m.

At the site of the machete fight that led to Uribio’s death, police also saw Honduran, Jose Alfredo Villeda, 48, who was suffering from a large cut wound to the right side of his face. His left hand had been partially chopped off at the wrist; he had cut wounds to the left knee, right leg and lower left leg, and a portion of his left pinky finger had been chopped off.

Police reported that at about 1:00 p.m., Uribio and Villeda were drinking at Villeda’s apartment in San Pedrito when they got into an argument, which resulted in a machete fight during which Uribio chopped Villeda, and Villeda, who was armed with a knife, stabbed Uribio.

Villeda was rushed to the San Pedro Polyclinic, after which he was flown to the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital in Belize City, in a critical but stable condition.

Assistant Superintendent Henry Jemmott, Commander of San Pedro police, reported that the two men were friends.

Then on Sunday, at about 10:30 in the morning, the body of a victim of another murder incident was discovered – this time in an abandoned house in the outskirts of Indian Church, Orange Walk District. Inside the house police found the nude body of Francisco Arravelo, 51, a cane farmer of the village. He had been chopped in the head and other parts of the body, and his left hand was almost severed. He was declared dead on the scene.

Police have detained a man in whose possession Arravelo’s cellphone was found, but the motive for the vicious murder is unknown at this time.

The fourth person to be murdered was a housewife of Bella Vista, in Independence, Stann Creek District. About 5:00 this morning, Monday, police went to the village football field where they saw a woman with multiple chop wounds to the head, face, neck and both arms. She was already dead. She was identified as Maria Suyapa Garcia, 24, a Honduran of Bella Vista.

Police say that their initial investigation revealed that Garcia was in a common-law relationship with a Honduran national, Erlin Alberto Arias Monguia, 24. At about 5:15 this morning, the couple reportedly left home walking, and while passing through the football field in Bella Vista, they had a misunderstanding, which resulted in Monguia allegedly inflicting the injuries on Garcia with a machete. He then fled the scene. Police are now searching for him.

During a police press brief held this morning at the Racoon Street Police Station, Commissioner of Police Allen Whylie told the media that the last three deaths that occurred over the weekend brought the total death count countrywide to 10, for the month of January – with a little less than two weeks to go before the month reaches its end.

Keiron Moss, was shot multiple times in Belize City on January 1; four days later, Matthiew Klinck, a film producer, was stabbed 14 times at his home in Selena, in the Cayo District. The third and fourth murders for the year were the shooting deaths of Yani Mas and Isidro Suar, both taxi drivers of Belmopan. They were killed in separate incidents.

On January 10, Cleon Smith was shot in Hattieville. Smith’s death was the fifth murder for the month.

Murder number 6 was that of Jarrel Edward Pop, 19, of Punta Gorda, who was chopped multiple times and thrown into a well.

The murder of American Elizabeth Ann McComb Swaney, 39, was number 7 on the tally of deaths.

The eighth murder was that of Sergio Geovani Uribio, of San Pedro, who was stabbed to death during an altercation with his friend while drinking at his friend’s home at about 1:00 Saturday afternoon.

The murder of Francisco Arravelo, found naked, chopped up and dead in an abandoned house in Indian Church, Orange Walk District, is the ninth murder of 2015, and the death of Maria Suyapa Garcia, 24, allegedly chopped to death by her common-law husband this morning, is the tenth murder to have occurred this month.

Commissioner Allen Whylie said that of the 10 murders, two persons have been arrested in two different cases, and police are seeking other suspects in the other cases of murder. He expressed the hope that the other cases will soon be solved, and the suspects arrested.

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