TOLEDO–Residents from the tranquil village of San Pedro Columbia in Toledo are extremely angry and fearful, following the brutal murder of a woman from the village that occurred over the weekend, and as a result, over a hundred of them, most with sticks and machetes, have embarked on a relentless quest to find her killer, at any cost.
Their outrage stems from the discovery of the nude, lifeless body of Agripina Coc, 61, which was found a short distance from her home in the village late this past Saturday, August 30, after she was allegedly murdered by a fellow villager who, according to the angry villagers, will be found and handed over to police “dead or alive,” if police do not do their job and find him first.
As of press time tonight, villagers are reportedly holding a candlelight vigil in her memory at her home in the village.
Francisco Coc, the husband of the murdered woman, told the media yesterday that his wife left home around midday on Saturday en route to a local store, but hours later, when she failed to return home, he became suspicious and organized a search which tragically ended with the gruesome discovery of her body at about 7:36 later that night.
According to police, Coc was found about 10 feet away from the main road at the southern entrance of Columbia with a large cut wound at the center of her head.
Police also said that several pieces of clothing with blood stains were found nearby, and they suspect that the victim may have been raped; however, that will only be confirmed upon conclusion of a postmortem which is scheduled for tomorrow, Tuesday, September 2.
Coc’s family has claimed that she had been harassed by a young man who they believe is responsible for her murder, and as such, a large group of villagers have launched a manhunt within the village in hopes of finding her murderer.
The victim’s sister-in-law explained that the suspect is a known troublemaker in the village who usually hangs out by the village creek, and has a reputation for carrying a machete and for stalking and allegedly raping women from the village.
She said that prior to Coc’s murder, he had been seen passing near Coc’s house and then lurking by the river where the women from the village normally go to do their laundry.
Other villagers, who said that they will not tolerate crime in their community, maintained that this is not the first time that the suspect has been accused of raping females from the village, and now that he has gone to the point of committing murder, they are calling for justice for the well-loved member of the village, who has been described as a peaceful, Christian woman.
The name of the person is being withheld at this time mainly because authorities have said that their investigations are still ongoing.
In the meanwhile, villagers have openly said that they do not trust the police to find the murderer, and have taken matters into their own hands. Sometime this morning, we understand, a group of over 100 men and young boys gathered in the community with sticks and machetes, and went through the village looking for the suspected murderer, but when they could not locate him, they reportedly conducted a citizen’s arrest on his brothers in an effort to flush out the suspect, who they believe is still hiding somewhere in the village.
Wil Maheia, of PGTV, has since told us that police have stepped in and have taken the men out of the custody of the villagers and are holding them at the police station for their own safety.
Today, the Toledo Maya Women’s Council issued a press release which denounced the heinous killing, and cited that 2014 has brought an increase in violence against women, both elderly and young, in Toledo, causing fear, alarm and confusion in the society.
The release also added that the Toledo Maya Women’s Council calls on the Belize Police Department to do all that is in their power to bring the family some closure by conducting a thorough investigation of this hideous crime and the perpetrator (s) who viciously took the life of a beloved resident of the village, Mrs. Agripina Coc.