A family is in a state of disbelief and intense agony as they struggle to come to terms with the possibility that an 18-year-old first-time mother, Raylene Dyer, a customer service representative at Ready Call Center, was brutally murdered because someone else desired her child.
Raylene had been missing since Friday, October 8, 2010; her disappearance, however, has now been upgraded to murder. But the details of what transpired after her disappearance, and the sequence of events that led to her suspected death, are mangled, and are yet to be fully unraveled by investigators.
Adding to the uncertainty and confusion is the fact that the body has still not been found. Police, however, have already arrested three men and a woman in connection with Dyer’s suspected death and the kidnapping of her baby.
Police believe that a 19-year-old woman, Aracely Cahueque, of Corozal District, had become obsessed with Raylene’s 3-month-old baby, Ravaan, and decided to steal the baby to cement her relationship with a former lover.
They arrested Cahueque on Thursday, October 14, 2010, in the Corozal District, and she led police to the three men, who allegedly confessed, telling police that they had cut off Raylene’s head and thrown her body into the river at Banana Bank, Cayo District branch of the Belize River.
Amandala was informed that police dispatched divers to the Banana Bank River today in an attempt to locate Raylene’s body. Sources say that, so far, police have found evidence at the scene near the Banana Bank River. These include a knife, Dyer’s slippers and suspected human blood.
Belize City police had ordered Cahueque’s arrest on Thursday, October 14, 2010. She was in Corozal, but police transported her to the Crimes Investigation Branch in Belize City. She was charged in the Magistrate’s Court and will reappear in court on November 26.
A police press release issued today announced that Aracely Cahueque, 19, a student of College Road, Corozal Town, had been arrested for the crime of child stealing. It also stated that the child had been found and returned to family members. The release listed the names of Dyer’s three suspected executioners, who were arrested on October 17: Darren Banner 21, a construction worker of Roaring Creek Village; Jason Anderson, 20, a construction worker of Roaring Creek, and Brandon Budna, 24, a student. They were charged with murder and will reapppear in court on November 18 in Belmopan’s court.
According to police sources, the three men, yesterday, October 17, after being arrested and being confronted with the accusations, “confessed everything; they said that they cut off her head [while she was still alive] and threw her body into the River at Banana Bank.”
Raylene Dyer’s sister, Adelle Magdaleno, 31, had told us on Friday: “My sister would never go anywhere without telling one of us; she would never go without her baby; she lives for her baby; she loves her baby.”
The family reiterated that they had harbored strong suspicions that their sister’s murder was linked to a young woman known to them as “Ara,” as she was the last to be seen with Raylene and her 3-month-old baby on Friday, October 8. The baby was found in Ontario a day after, allegedly at the home of Ara’s ex-boyfriend.
“We don’t even want to know how she did it, or what; we just want to find our sister,” Magdaleno had said in the days following Dyer’s initial disappearance.
According to Magdaleno, Raylene had been at another sister’s home on Friday, October 8, between 3:30 p.m. and 4:00 p.m., when she allegedly was visited by Ara. The baby was not with Dyer at that time, but was with the father, who had packed and was ready to go to Mahogany Heights to spend the weekend.
Magdaleno went on to recount that her sister “left because a young lady known to her as ‘Ara’ came; she and the young lady just left.”
Magdaleno said, “The young lady and my sister went to the bus terminal. The baby was on the bus and they took the baby from the dad and told him to wait a little while because they were going to Pound Yard to buy something, and the young lady [Ara] said to tell him that she was the godmother,” Magdaleno said.
This was the last time anyone close to Raylene Dyer would ever see her. The evening turned to night, but neither Raylene, the baby, nor Ara would return.
Finally, someone called the baby’s father using Raylene’s cell phone. At this time, he was at the Zuniga family home trying to find the baby.
“Apparently Raylene called and told him to come to the terminal and that she would give him the baby, and Raylene apparently told him to bring Tina [another of her sisters] with him so that he would have company walking back home,” said Magdaleno.
However all efforts to locate the two were fruitless, and around 9:00 p.m., the baby’s father decided to catch the last bus up to his home in Mahogany Heights.
The next day, however, on Saturday, October 9, 2010, there was growing concern over where Raylene and the baby were, especially because she had no supplies at all for the baby or herself. The family started searching for clues, and even made calls to Dyer’s phone, which was turned off.
The discovery of a black plastic bag containing a small piece of paper with numbers on it (which the family says that “Ara” had accidentally left at the home that Friday) in the home of Dyer’s sister, who resides on Newton Barracks, was the help the family needed to get some answers.
After calling numerous numbers off the paper, the family spoke to a young man living in Ontario, Cayo, District, who claimed to have a baby, which he stated was his. According to the young man, a woman known to him as Aracely had brought his baby to him, up in Ontario, on the night of Friday, October 8 – the same day of Dyer’s disappearance.
“He said yes, he had the baby, but that it is his baby; he said that we could come to see the baby. He said he doesn’t know anything about our sister; he just knows that Ara, as far as he is concerned, brought his baby that night and handed it to him,” said Magdaleno.
On that very day, Saturday, October 9, 2010, the Dyer family and the baby’s father went to Ontario for answers, and spoke with the young man from Ontario. He confessed that when Ara came to drop off the baby, she had presented her (the baby) with a different name, “Lanish Jadacy Gillett”.
“According to him, when she [Ara] brought the baby, the baby was crying, and he told us that she was pushing the baby unto her breast [pretending to breastfeed the baby],” said Magdaleno.
The Ontario resident then explained that Aracely Cahueque had for some time been sending him pictures of herself being pregnant, even though he had never seen her pregnant in person, until the Friday night when she brought the baby (Dyer’s baby) to his home in Ontario.
The father of Raylene’s baby, however, when he saw the baby, quickly identified her as his baby girl and took his child away from the Ontario man, who was in a state of confusion over what was really happening.
Magdaleno explained that, when the family questioned Aracely Cahueque about the whereabouts of Raylene at the Corozal police station, Cahueque kept denying any knowledge of her, and furthermore, pretended to faint every time she was confronted with the accusations. Ultimately, however, she confessed.
Magdaleno revealed that from the start of the “friendship” between Raylene and Aracely Cahueque, the family had found Ara to be a little odd, and had also observed that her (Cahueque’s) befriending of Dyer seemed to be based primarily on the baby.
Cahueque had allegedly told Raylene that, since she was a nursing student at the University of Belize, she would possibly need to borrow her baby if a class assignment or project required an actual baby.
Since the disappearance of Raylene, Magdaleno added, the family has learnt that Ara had been stalking and dodging Raylene and her family for some time, unknown to them.
“Afterwards we started to find out that the young lady [Cahueque] was always around peeping, looking and dodging [the family] but nobody didn’t know that it was Ara, because we didn’t know the person,” said Magdaleno.
Amandala also made contact with the Ontario resident, Cahueque’s 23-year-old ex-boyfriend, who we will call John. According to John, he has known Cahueque for about two years, and he had ended the relationship with her almost a year ago, before he had learned that she was “pregnant”.
John further stated that he wasn’t inclined to re-enter a relationship with Cahueque because she showed signs of an obsession with him.
John revealed to us that this was not the first time he had seen this baby. He told us that about two weeks ago, Cahueque had brought the same baby up to his worksite in Belmopan so that he could meet her.
John also explained that he had been oblivious to the entire situation (abduction and murder) until Saturday, October 9, 2010, when he received the call from Raylene Dyer’s family asking about Cahueque, Dyer and the baby.
“She [Cahueque] made me feel and look stupid in front of my community and family,” said John.
According to John, on Friday, October 9, 2010, Cahueque arrived at his home in Ontario with the baby. Cahueque had apparently been asking him to use his phone to make a phone call and thus ended up using the cell phone of John’s uncle’s girlfriend. “She went outside to the back of the house to make the phone call; she was on the phone for a while, so I went to check on her,” John said.
Cahueque apparently tried to stop John from hearing her conversation on the cell phone.
“She [Cahueque] spent the night at my house [in Ontario] and left at around six in the morning. She said she had bought some stuff from Chetumal and that she had to go to Corozal to get some things,” John said.
When asked how the reality of the circumstances by which the victim, Raylene Dyer, is suspected to have been murdered has impacted him, John explained that he was sick at the thought, and that he had had no clue whatsoever as to what was transpiring.
“It makes me feel bad, really bad,” said John.
Magdaleno said that she had expected that Cahueque would have been charged with the same offenses as those faced by the three men, and further, that she believes Cahueque should be penalized to the fullest extent, by death, which is still a lenient form of punishment, as far as the family is concerned.
“Everybody is in shock that things like this happen. This is something you would watch on the television; I think Belizeans are naïve to things like this happening,” said Magdaleno.
The Zuniga family explained that they want to at least locate Raylene’s body so that they can have some sort of closure, and a landmark (grave) which the baby, in the future, can visit to pay her respects to the mother who loved her so.
“I understand that you live and you die but I think that even death is too good for her, because with death you go onto a better place. I want her to suffer. I don’t want to wish harm to her, because that would make me just like her, but I want her to pay for what she did, because she is the one who planned it,” said Magdaleno.