Western Belize has certainly turned into a hotspot over the past few days due to a flurry of criminal activity, and now there appears to be another case of suspected homicide in the Arizona area of Teakettle in the Cayo District.
A 49-year old farmer and herbalist, Pedro Ruben Andrade Luna, set out from his home last Thursday, September 26, at around 1:00 p.m., to make his usual trip to gather “contribo”, roots and medicinal plants in a vast area, miles behind Arizona Village, known as Roaring River.
His family became concerned after he did not return home, and worse, he has not been seen or heard from since. They feared the worst, and were convinced that the father and husband had been executed by illegal immigrants who now inhabit the area.
According to Esmeralda Luna, his daughter, it was normal for him to go to the area and come back, and sometimes he would come back the next day, so they thought that he would have returned home on Friday, the following day.
She said that her father would normally go to Belize City on Saturdays to sell his products, so when Saturday came and he still did not show up, they reported the matter to the police, because they knew that something was wrong.
The concerned daughter said that both the family and the police went out to search for the missing man over the weekend, but had no luck finding him. Luna said, “All they found was his belongings, his school bag, his water, and his machete; that’s all they found. No traces of him…he is missing right now and we want to find him. We are hoping for the best, but we know that something wrong has happened to him.”
ASP Sinquest Martinez, O.C. Belmopan Police, said on Tuesday that Ruben Andrade had indeed been reported missing by his family on Sunday after he went to farm on Thursday. Martinez said that at that point, police had visited both the Springfield area and the Roaring River area, but hadn’t come up with anything as yet. Martinez clarified that the items that were found are only suspected to be Luna’s, but the police have yet to positively identify them.
He also mentioned that they have seven persons from the Roaring River area in custody in connection with Luna’s disappearance.
Amandala understands that several people who traverse the area had been threatened by the settlers prior to this incident, but Andrade Luna apparently never took the threats seriously.
On Tuesday, there was a report of a killing in the same area in which Andrade had gone missing. This was after the Belmopan police received a confession from a farmer from the Arizona area of Teakettle three days later, when police went to his property to ask questions. They later took him into custody.
The farmer said it was a case of self-defense, and claimed that he had shot, killed, and then burned up a man who was stealing from his farm. He also said that the man had stolen three thousand dollars’ worth of green pepper already – and when he caught him on Friday, the man tried to attack him with a machete.
The farmer then said that he shot the intruder dead and then burned his body.
On Wednesday, police brought the alleged killer to the site where the victim was purportedly burned and then buried. According to Andrade’s family members, the site where Pedro Andrade’s belongings were supposedly found is at least a quarter mile from where the remains were found, burned and buried, near Camalote Village, Cayo, on a 400-acre private ranch in the Roaring River area.
Police had brought the farmer along with shovels to dig up the remains of what, Andrade’s family said, is more than likely Andrade’s body, while forensic analysts and a pathologist were also on site.
There are no witnesses, however, and only small parts of the bones of the deceased were left, so police are asking the DPP for advice on how to proceed.
Meanwhile, Esmeralda Luna, who found out about the incident on Wednesday morning, told Plus TV News that her father has been going to the area for the past 13 years to look for “contribo,” and there’s no way that he could have stolen anything from the farmer. She believes that the farmer has made up the story to cover up his murderous act.
ASP Martinez mentioned that there was an exchange of gunfire when his police officers went to the property of the accused farmer on Sunday to do their investigations; that is when the seven persons were detained. He confirmed that the police had found some remains when they went back to the area on Wednesday, but stated that the forensics have not yet verified if they are indeed human remains.
Luna’s family is now convinced that the remains are that of their loved one, particularly because this is the area where he used to go to gather his “contribo.”