Headline — 07 June 2013 — by Albert J. Ciego
Ex-policeman, Maurice Duce, 24, of Haiti, drowned: post-mortem

His father said that he will travel to Haiti to “seek his justice”

The decomposed corpse of former policeman Maurice Duce, 24, of Police Street, was retrieved from the Belize River in the area of Haulover Bridge at about 11:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 4. The body was in an advanced state of decomposition, and a part of his left arm was missing — believed to have been bitten off by crocodiles.

After the body was taken out of the river, it was taken to a deserted area on the Hattieville-Boom Road, where Doctor Mario Estradabran conducted an onsite autopsy. At its conclusion, Estradabran certified that Duce’s death was caused by drowning. Duce, originally from Haiti, was taken to the Eternal Gardens Cemetery at Mile 13 on the Philip Goldson Highway, where he was buried at about 3:30 p.m. that same day, Tuesday.

A man told police that about 8:30 Tuesday morning, he was travelling in his boat on the Belize River in the area of Manatee Lookout when he saw a body floating. Police were called and a search team from the Ladyville police responded and searched for the body in the area near Mile 8 on the Philip Goldson Highway.

The search was unsuccessful. Police said that shortly after, at about 10:00 a.m., they got another report, that the body was seen floating in the area of the Haulover Bridge by a tour boat that was travelling towards Manatee Lookout.

Police again responded and went to the Haulover Bridge area, where the body was seen face-down in the river.

Police said that with assistance from the Belize Defence Force (BDF), who also had been scouring the area, searching for the body, the body was recovered at about 11:30 a.m. The body, which was clothed in a pair of black pants and a white T-shirt, was identified as being that of ex-police officer, Maurice Duce.

Even though the left arm up to the elbow was missing, there were no other visible signs of violence on the body, said police.

However, there is some confusion as to the time of death. The family said that they were told that the time of death was between 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. Monday, April 3, but police contend that Duce drowned sometime Friday night, May 31.

Joseph Duce, the grieving father of Maurice, said that he saw his son on Friday. On Sunday, he was at the home of his brother, and on Monday, he was at the home of his sister, playing with his nieces and nephews. His sister gave him some money, and he left the house at about 1:00 p.m. on Monday, and that was the last time he was seen alive by his family members.

Joseph Duce told Amandala that he does not believe that Maurice died of drowning. He believes that his son was killed elsewhere and dumped in the river, or that he was lured into the area, and he was held down under the water until he died.

Duce considers it unlikely that his son would go to Ladyville, to the Belize River, to swim in his clothes with his passport and other important documents in his pocket. He is requesting that police conduct an intense investigation, because there are too many unanswered questions. He said that his son was easy-going and after leaving the Police Department, he worked as a vehicle mechanic.

Maurice Duce was a member of the Police Department for several years, and resigned last year, 2012. His family will conduct a memorial service at St. Joseph Cathedral on St. Joseph Street to celebrate his life. Duce is survived by his parents, 29 brothers, 12 sisters, many relatives and friends.

Maurice Duce’s grieving father said that his death is double tragedy for him, because in 2003, his eldest son died in a tragic road accident while travelling from Belmopan to Belize City, and he had not yet gotten over his death.

He said that he is waiting for the police to conduct their investigation to find out what caused his son’s death, after which he will travel to Haiti “to seek his justice.”

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