DANGRIGA TOWN, Stann Creek District. Fri. June 12, 2015–Two men have been remanded to the Belize Central Prison for the murder on June 8 of retired Dangriga Town fire chief, Ralston Patnett, 51, whose remains were found in his smouldering car that was completely destroyed by fire, in the driveway of a house for which he was the caretaker, near the Commerce Bight Pier in Dangriga Town.
Brandon Mason Kerr, 30, of Mile 21on the Hummingbird Highway, and Lindberg Oxford Williams, 32, of Commerce Bight Road, Dangriga, were charged by police on Wednesday for Patnett’s murder.
Today, Friday, they were arraigned on the murder charge at the Dangriga Magistrate’s Court by Magistrate Patty Arana, and then remanded to the Belize Central Prison until July 29.
Police reported that at about 2:30 Monday morning, they were informed that a car was burning in the driveway of a house in the Commerce Bight Pier area of Dangriga.
Firemen reported that on their arrival, they found the car completely destroyed, but still smoldering. They quickly brought things under control, and when they were able to examine the inside of the car, they saw the charred remains of a man who they strongly believed to be Ralston Patnett, who was the retired substation supervisor for the National Fire Service.
Patnett had been previously posted in Dangriga, subsequent to which he retired. Prior to being posted to Dangriga, he was station manager at the Orange Walk Fire Station and at the Belize City headquarters of the fire service.
The Dangriga Fire Service supervisor said that the car was usually parked in the compound of the fire station in Dangriga and that they knew the car and Patnett well.
The remains were taken to the Southern Regional Hospital for an autopsy and identification procedures, and police announced yesterday that the results of the exam and identification process confirmed that the charred remains were indeed those of Ralston Patnett.
Not only was it Patnett’s body, but the autopsy by the police pathologist determined that Patnett’s death was caused by “lung, heart and liver injuries due to chest and abdominal trauma due to shot gun injuries.”
Police said that Patnett apparently was shot with a 12-gauge single action shotgun in his head and body in the car, and the car was then set on fire. Also, many bullet holes were seen in the frame of the car.
A 12-gauge single action Rossi shotgun had been reported stolen from the house on Commerce Bight Road for which Patnett was the caretaker, and which was owned by Edmond Domenic Couch, 68, an American retiree of Denver, Colorado, United States of America. The gun was one of the items listed as stolen in a report of a burglary of the house that took place that same day, Monday, June 8.
Police launched an intense investigation that led to the recovery of the gun, which was found in an abandoned lot in the Commerce Bight Pier area, and with it, 34 live 12-gauge shotgun cartridges. The investigation also led to the arrest of the two men in Dangriga.
Police believe that the motive of the horrendous murder of the caretaker was robbery. They believe that the men were burglarizing the house that night when Patnett came home and saw them.