Photo: Essein Jabari Castillo, charged with murder
by Charles Gladden
DANGRIGA, Stann Creek District, Wed. Sept. 13, 2023
A 19-year-old has been charged with murder in connection with the death of 79-year-old Belizean retiree, Juliana Rhys of Magoon Street, Dangriga Town, in July of this year—an incident which had been largely overlooked by the public and the media because Rhys’ death had not been initially classified by police as a murder but as a ‘Death Investigation.’
According to police reports, at around 7:40 a.m. on Friday, July 5, a family member of Rhys arrived at her home, but realized something was amiss, and called the police. Her body was then discovered by police who opened the locked door of the home, after which it was transported to the Southern Regional Hospital, where she was declared dead on arrival.
Relatives of Rhys told local media that they suspect the motive for the crime was robbery, as her personal effects were missing when her body was found.
They also mentioned that Rhys had not been seen for several days prior to the discovery of her body, but they had believed that she was sheltering at her home due to the bad weather at the time. When a relative went to check on her, he saw Rhys’ cane at the foot of her porch and knew that she was at home. However, when the relative attempted to peep inside, he saw a lot of flies inside and smelled a strong odor and knew immediately something was wrong.
Thus, he contacted the police so that they could open the locked door, and when they did so they discovered Rhys’s motionless body.
A subsequent post-mortem examination revealed that her death was caused by “jugular venous injuries due to penetrating head trauma due to stab wounds to the neck”.
Almost two months after the crime occurred, the Belize Police Department announced that they had arrested and charged 19-year-old Essein Jabari Castillo of Dangriga Town with the crime of murder.