General — 11 August 2018 — by Courtney Menzies
Internationally renowned British filmmaker murdered

Richard Foster’s body was found with ten stab wounds and there were injuries to his head; police say the motive appeared to be robbery

BELMOPAN, Thurs. Aug. 9, 2018– Internationally acclaimed British photographer and filmmaker, Richard Foster, 74, was reported missing on Tuesday, from Savannah Guest House, his business and home, after the caretaker of his property found the house ransacked.

On Tuesday, around 9 p.m., tragically, his body was found in the Rivera area of Belmopan.

Foster, a British national, had lived in Belize for many years with his wife, Carol Foster. Since Carol is currently in the US, Richard Foster had been living alone when it appears that he was kidnapped. Carol tried to call Richard on Monday night around 8:00, and she grew concerned when she got no response. She then asked Glen McFadzean, the caretaker for the guest house, to check on him.

When McFadzean went to check on Foster the following Tuesday morning, around 7 a.m., he saw that the house was open. When he went inside, he found that it had been ransacked and he couldn’t find Richard.

McFadzean called the police, who, after searching the premises, reported that two guns, a 9mm pistol and a shotgun, and Foster’s Toyota Hilux, were missing – presumably stolen by Foster’s suspected kidnappers.

Later in the day, the police discovered the vehicle in the Mahogany Heights area in the Cayo District, in the bushes on a back road. The car had blood stains on the seat.

Police did not find any signs of Foster where the stolen vehicle was found, so they continued their search. Sometime around 8 p.m., police, acting upon information they received, discovered Foster’s body on the east bank of Roaring Creek, the creek from which the neighboring Roaring Creek Village got its name. He was found wearing only shorts and his legs were in the water.

The body was found with ten stab wounds, as well as head injuries. It was transported to the Western Regional Hospital and a post-mortem exam revealed that he died of traumatic asphyxiation due to being stabbed.

Although blood was found in Foster’s house and car, it was not substantial enough to indicate that he was killed in either place. There also was not enough blood found by the creek to indicate that he had been killed there.

Police currently have one person in custody, who they say is known to them. They also say that the motive for the kidnapping and murder appears to have been robbery.

Richard Foster was a pioneer in the establishment of The Belize Zoo. In 1983, a filmmaking team that was headed by Foster, who was the cinematographer, came to Belize to film a documentary called “Selva Verde.”

Sharon Matola, who now heads the zoo, accompanied the team as the animal caretaker.

After filming, the team debated about what to do with the animals, which included an ocelot, a puma, a jaguar, and several exotic birds. Since the animals were now tame, the team could not release the animals into the wild, but they also did not want to euthanize them.

When the filming crew left, Matola remained behind and created a makeshift zoo for the 17 animals. She used their enclosures as exhibits to generate funds for their care. The zoo was relocated to its current location at Mile 29 on the George Price Highway in 1991.

Shortly after producing the documentary, Foster moved to Belize and became naturalized. He and his wife, Carol, have filmed many nature documentaries for National Geographic and BBC right here in Belize, and developed them at their guest house at Mile 29 on the George Price Highway.

Some of Foster’s films include “Tales from Belize: Underwater World” and “Paradise on the Edge”; “Mysteries of the Ancient Maya”; “Land of the Anaconda”; “Jungle Nights”; “Jaguar: Year of the Cat”; “Hope – The Harpy Eagle”; sequences for the highly acclaimed BBC documentary Planet Earth; and much more.

The Fosters won two Emmys and many other awards for their work in Belize and around the world. Although they still made films, of late they had been primarily focused on conservation efforts.

The last time Foster was in the news was in October of 2010, when a jaguar that he had adopted and cared for escaped when a mango tree fell on its enclosure during Hurricane Richard. The escaped jaguar, named Max, attacked and killed one of the Fosters’ neighbors, Bruce Cullerton, 47.

Amandala had interviewed Foster about the incident, and he told us how devastated he was when he learned about the death of his friend. Foster also explained that he was upset that he had to euthanize the jaguar, but he said he understood why it had to be done.

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Deshawn Swasey

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