Belmopan police have their hands full this week after a total of four people were murdered in two different incidents over a 72-hour span in a set of events which is believed to have started on Saturday, when the first double murder reportedly occurred.
While taking an early afternoon swim in the Roaring Creek River at around 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, a small group of young boys saw an object floating in the nearby waters and decided to take a closer look. To their dismay, they discovered the lifeless body of a 25-year-old Philippines national, later identified as Alry Rose Sardido. A swelling could be seen on the center of Sardido’s forehead, as well as abrasions to the upper right side of her head and temple.
Residents of the Roaring Creek area had reportedly seen the woman walking towards the creek, accompanied by a light-skinned male person, about an hour prior to the grisly finding. The two apparently went to the popular swimming area, known as The Falls, to escape the day’s humidity and enjoy the cool ambiance of the river. A search team made up of police and Coast Guard officials was subsequently formed to comb the area in an effort to find Sardido’s male companion ;after a white Toyota Tacoma with Belmopan license plates was also found at the scene.
After an intensive search with the aid of police canines, the body of an American male, identified as 63-year-old David Reichel, was retrieved from the waters upstream near the Guanacaste Park at about midday on Monday, two days later.
ASP Sinquest Martinez, O.C. Belmopan Police, said that they believe that the motive for the double murder was robbery, since indications are that both individuals went swimming at the creek and they were robbed. Amandala understands that two suspects are in custody pending investigations.
Alry Rose Sardido had reportedly taken up residence in the capital city of Belmopan for two years, and Reichel was employed as a Senior Statistical Analyst at the Ministry of Health up until July 31st of this year.
While residents of that community were still grappling with those gruesome discoveries, Belmopan police received a call at approximately 5:18 Monday evening, reporting that shots had been fired in Camalote Village, which is located in the same general vicinity. Upon their arrival, police saw the body of Juan Carlos Olmedo, 27, also known as “Nelly”, lying in the kitchen of his home, apparently dead. He reportedly had three gunshot wounds. Olmedo, who was a food vendor, was supposedly the victim of a robbery/home invasion.
According to his common-law wife, Lorraine Burgess, 36, she and Olmedo had arrived home at the same time and they were preparing to go to purchase vegetables in town, when an armed, masked man suddenly entered their premises and demanded money. Olmedo, who appeared to have recognized the perpetrator, refused to comply; and that is when the masked man proceeded to threaten their lives. Burgess said that she then told the gunman that she would get some money, and even though she handed almost a thousand dollars over to him, he still mercilessly opened fire on her boyfriend. Olmedo died instantly in front of his common-law wife and her two children.
The assailant then fled into the bushes behind his victim’s house, which is when he is believed to have met Olmedo’s neighbor, 37-year-old Honduran national Oscar Lionel Benitez. Benitez was riding his grey beach cruiser bicycle through a dirt road that leads to a farm which he was tending. Unfortunately for Benitez, the culprit had chosen this same path as his getaway route, and as he came across the unarmed farmer, he ruthlessly shot him in the face three times. Benitez, who is a deaf mute, was found by a family friend later that fateful evening at about 7:30. He was lying dead in a pool of blood, still clutching the bike that he was riding.
Benitez lived with his mother, Berta Benitez, in a house adjacent to where Juan Olmedo lived. She said that her son left home at about 3:00 p.m. to check on a plot of land he was farming. He indicated to her that he would be back by 5:00 p.m., and when he did not return by 5:30 p.m., she became worried, she said.
Visibly overcome with grief, the mother told us that she heard the shots which killed her neighbor, Juan Olmedo, but didn’t leave her home.
She said that when a search party set out to look for Benitez a while after, she went along to look for him as well, but she couldn’t make it all the way due to the mud on the path. The mother said that “Pedro”, a family friend, came back and told her that they found her son dead, after which she called the police, who came to assist.
Benitez’s mother said, “I never went to see him because I don’t have the strength to see him, but they told me that he had several gunshots, and one of the shots was to his eye.”
Indeed, Benitez had been shot in the chest, neck and face, and his yet unidentified murderer then made his way along a stretch of high-powered electrical lines, known as the “hydro road”, where he was sighted by police.
ASP Sinquest Martinez stated that there were police officers conducting a search through the hydro road, and they saw the individual, but he got away. Martinez, however, is confident that the cold-blooded killer will be caught very soon.
His mother, on the other hand, professed that her son was always obedient and had no enemies. She said, “He was my right hand…he would help me with everything. Although he was a deaf mute, he was still an excellent son and everyone around here knew him.”
Berta Benitez told reporters that Oscar wanted to be laid to rest in his hometown, Honduras, and is asking for financial assistance from the public to grant him his wish. She can be contacted at 662-6159.