Headline — 22 December 2018 — by Courtney Menzies
Over 50 persons reported missing so far, for 2018

WESTERN PARADISE, Belize District, Tues. Dec. 18, 2018– Another person has been added to the ever-growing list of missing persons. 53-year-old Benson Jerry Butler was reported missing by his nephew, Marlon Kisling, 39.  Kisling, a truck driver, told police that on Sunday, December 2, sometime after 8 a.m., Butler left their home at #28 West Lake Area en route to Belize City and since then he has not heard from him.

Butler, who is also known as Jerry, has a slim build, a brown complexion, black hair that is worn in an afro and dark brown eyes. He walks with a limp on his right foot. He was last seen wearing a white, button-down shirt with long sleeves; plain, black dress pants and a pair of black shoes. Kisling noted that Butler does not suffer from mental illness.

Over 50 persons from all over the country have been reported missing this year alone. While some of the missing persons were found alive, most of them were either found dead or remain missing.

Many of the persons who were reported missing were mentioned in the news maybe once or twice. Such was the case with Errol Rubio, 38; Astaejah Dymond, 13;  Katherine Contreras, 15; Alejandra Valiente, 14; Brian Westby, 16; Elan White, 15; Magnor Canek, 17; Thelma Robinson, 69; Amelia Fernandez, 15; Brenda Castellanos, 14; Malinda Salam, 37; and Stephanie Enriquez 13.

In the case of many of those mentioned above, there has been no update issued to indicate whether or not they are still missing, or if they were found, either dead or alive.

Other names that might ring a bell are Clarence Brown, 25, who went missing on San Pedro; Sharon Ferguson, a mother who suffers from Dissociative Personality Disorder; Ivan Witzil, 51, a father who went missing on Father’s Day; Alfred Seguro, 64, a stroke victim who had a habit of wandering around Biscayne; and Zane Ireland, 21, a resident of Blackman Eddy who went to Ambergris Caye looking for work.

More often than not, people who go missing are not found and their families do not receive the closure they need. Such is the case with Homero Campos, 43, a farmer who has been missing since Father’s Day, June 17. He left his home in San Narciso and was kidnapped on the way to visit his farm on the outskirts of the village.

What was strange about this case was that there were suspicions that he was kidnapped and taken to Mexico, a location from which his family reportedly received calls and e-mails from his alleged kidnappers concerning a ransom amount, even going so far as requesting bitcoins. For a time, they would allow Campos to speak, but suddenly that stopped and the family is still left wondering what happened to their loved one.

Alyka Coye, 17, a resident of Belmopan, has been missing since June 25, but there is hope that she is still alive. Her mom told LoveFM that in early September she was still receiving texts from her daughter, who told her that she was working but would not say where. Alyka’s mom also said that Alyka had contacted her brother in the US, saying that she was with a lady in Punta Gorda.

Another 17-year-old who is also still missing is Gerardo Vasquez from Ontario Village. He was last seen by his mother on September 25. On the 28th, however, police had gotten word that a severed leg was floating in the river near Teakettle Village.

The next day, police found the leg in the area of Warrie Head, then found another leg in the area of Chaya Maya. The legs were believed to be that of Vasquez, but that has yet to be confirmed through DNA testing.

A mother and her almost 2-year-old son were also reported missing, but never found. Ruby Petino disappeared on October 16. She took her child from their house in Belize City en route to Mile 8, where she worked. She is a Guatemalan, and police were unaware if she was in the country legally or not.

Jose “Milo” Paz, a veteran pilot from Tropic Air, was said to have died in a plane crash in Panama in October, but just recently, on December 7, his wife reported him missing. Although she has been told that there was a crash and that his body was recovered from wreckage on a mountain, she has not been able to confirm his death because she has yet to receive the body.

Currently, the families of two 23-year-olds are searching for their loved ones. Aneshia Young has been in the news since she went missing on the morning of December 9 after attending a staff Christmas party at The Ramada the night before.

All that is known is that Young went to Sit ‘N Sip after the work party, and left the club around 3 a.m. with her boyfriend, with whom she lives. She and her boyfriend reportedly had an argument, and he claims he went to sleep, but when he woke up around 11 a.m., she was gone.

Since December 11, the family has been conducting searches for her, following up on every lead they have received. They still have hope that Aneshia will be found alive and are offering a $30,000 reward for anyone who can give them reliable information.

The other missing young person, Iverson “Iver” Neal, was reported missing on December 16. His family last spoke to him on December 12, when he called his grandmother, his mother, and another female using a phone he borrowed. When the family called back the number, the owner of the phone told them that Neal was wet and dirty and seemed to be in trouble, which is why he loaned Neal the phone. Neal’s last known whereabouts were in front of El Rancho, just outside of Belmopan.

Fisherman, Greg Dillon, 32, is missing at sea after leaving his fishing camp on Turneffe on December 10. His wife last spoke to him the day before on the phone. The watchman for the camp said he saw Dillon leaving early in the morning, but there have been no signs of him since.

Lionel Velasquez, 30, from Paraiso Village, also went missing at sea on April 18. A few days after, though, as is the case of many persons who go missing, Velasquez’s body was found by the Coast Guard, on April 21. Velasquez apparently fell overboard from the boat on which he had been traveling and drowned.

Another missing man who turned up dead was Israel Perez, 27. He was reported missing on January 29 after, he texted his brother saying that he was going to San Pedro. When his family didn’t hear from him after that, they began to grow worried.

On February 6, his body was found in Harmonyville in Cayo in a shallow grave. The body was already in a decomposed state and it was bound at the hands and feet and had a plastic bag over the head. His killer(s) also stabbed him several times.

Two days later, on February 8, two men were taken to court: Cruz Castillo, 33, and Stanley Herrera, Jr., 22. They were apprehended after Castillo was found driving Perez’s car, wearing his shoes, and wearing Perez’s medallion around his neck. Other items belonging to Perez were also found in Castillo’s home, where Perez was suspected to have been killed.

Alaine Garcia was a 35-year-old who went missing on the morning of February 23, and although his body was not found, his alleged murderer confessed to killing him because he claims Garcia’s ghost shows up at his bedside every night.

Garcia had just dropped his common-law wife at the roadside in Hattieville and was walking back home when he heard gunshots and began fleeing for his life. That was the last time anyone had seen him. On May 10, Albert Jones, 45, allegedly confessed to police, even though there was no body to confirm Garcia’s death. Jones said he chopped up the body and threw it into the river because Garcia had allegedly beaten up Jones’ son.

Oswald Arnold, 22, left his home on May 17 to go with his friends to the river on an overnight fishing trip. While all of his friends returned, he did not. Since then, the family had been searching for him, until October 31.

Skeletal remains, without the skull, were found alongside the Belize River in Teakettle, and later, his family confirmed it was him based on the clothes that were found. Although DNA has yet to confirm that the remains are Arnold’s, his family believes it is him and thus have received their closure.

Sherris Stringham, 67, who was originally from Missouri in the US, was reported missing on August 27 after she did not meet up with her friends as she had promised she would. She had been living in Hopkins as a retiree for a year. Her green Nissan Xterra was also missing.

On August 31, her body was found under a bridge at Mile 17 1/2 on the Stann Creek Valley Road. Reports were that it was a home invasion turned murder and police ended up charging two brothers, Anthony and Wilhelm Nunez, both 18, and a 16-year-old minor for the murder.

Miguel Arroyo, 23, a fisherman of San Pedro, went missing on September 10 after he went to a nearby store but never returned. His body was found on September 23. The body was already in a decomposed state and was identified by tattoos on his chest. The cause of death was blunt force trauma.

Felina James, 37, was missing for 7 days before her body was found with a cut wound in the back of the neck on the Coastal Road. On October 18, the babysitter for James’ two sons reported her missing, saying that James had told her she was going to her home in Sarteneja to pick up some items as she was moving to Belize City. She left on October 11 and she was supposed to return the next day.

Since the body was in such a decomposed state, she had to be identified by her tattoos as well. Later, her boyfriend, Albert Moreira, 27, was charged for her murder. Allegations to police were that he was abusive towards her, and he killed her while she was on her way back to Belize City. There were unconfirmed reports that she was planning to leave Moreira to go and live with her husband in the US.

The last missing person who had been found dead was Martha Gonzalez, 68. She left her home in San Felipe, Orange Walk, on November 23 to go sell cheese in Pomona, Stann Creek District. Her family grew concerned when she did not return.

On November 27, police found her body wrapped in a grey tarp with stab wounds to the chest. Later, police arrested and charged Christopher Bradley, 21, for her murder. Police believe that it was a robbery turned murder.

Some families were lucky to find their missing loved ones alive. Robert Jacobs, 16, was reported missing on August 24 in Punta Gorda. He was later found on the 29th, floating on a board in the sea near shore between Barranco and Sarstoon. He told his family that he had been walking when he got lost and could not find his way back.

On September 29, the father of 14-year-old Analeily Chi dropped her off at the market in Orange Walk Town, because she told him she had a school project to do. When he went to pick her up in the afternoon, she was nowhere to be found. Her father followed every lead he could, including information that she was seen around midday at Western Dairies eating ice cream with a male individual.

On October 4, Chi was found unharmed at a residence in San Luis Village. Later, a 30-year-old man, presumably the one she was found with in San Luis, was charged with unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor.

Carlos Canchan, 15, was another minor who made it safely back home, although there were no details as to how he was reunited with his family.

Shamily Danielly Tillet, 14, went missing on September 24 after she went to an internet café. Her mother had said that a 27-year-old man had expressed interest in dating her, but her parents had opposed his effort to do so. Reports were that 30 days after she went missing, she walked back home, alone. Police reported that they had begun looking for the man they believed she had been with

Nerry Montenegro, 42, went missing on November 25, and his family believed he was dead after a body was found in New River, close to an area where he often visited. Crocodiles had already gotten to the body that was found, so they were unable to identify it.

On November 29, however, police found Montenegro wandering around the San Estevan Road with injuries to both his feet. He seemed starved and disoriented. His family had previously reported that he suffered with epilepsy, which is why they were particularly concerned.

There are more missing person cases that were not reported, and some that slipped through the cracks. Still, it is alarming how many people were reported missing, and how many of them turned up dead or have never been found.

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