BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Jan. 3, 2019– At the end of 2018, Belize recorded 143 murders, which is close to the alarming records set in 2012 and 2017 when the country recorded an incredible 145 murders, the highest on record. As the New Year drifted in on Tuesday, instead of relief from the frightening frequency with which Belizeans have been slaughtering each other, there was more grim news. On the first day of the New Year the murder tally ratcheted up to 5!
At a police press briefing yesterday, Wednesday, Acting Commissioner of Police, Chester Williams, appeared to express relief that only one out of the five murders was gang-related.
The killing began in the quiet village of Lucky Strike in the northern part of the Belize District, when Howard Coleman, 58, a woodcarver, was attacked in his house. Coleman was reportedly hacked to death by another villager, Giovanni Jones, 26, shortly after sunrise, in a dispute over a woman who was staying at Coleman’s house. Jones then allegedly proceeded to rape the woman who was staying at Coleman’s house. After killing Coleman and raping the woman, Jones threatened to kill the woman if she did not assist him in disposing of Coleman’s body. The woman, however, managed to escape.
A second murder was recorded after the body of an unidentified man was found floating in the Belize River in the Blackman Eddy area of the Cayo District. The man’s hands were tied behind his back when his body was found. A postmortem examination on the remains confirmed that the man died of manual strangulation.
The third murder occurred in Belize City around 3:30 a.m. on Blue Marlin Boulevard. The victim was Joseph Wallenford Babb, 21. Babb, a reputed gang leader, was gunned down as he stood on Blue Marlin Boulevard in front of a store. A vehicle drove up and its occupants opened fire on Babb, who sustained gunshot injuries to the back of his head, lower back, and in his chest. He died on the spot.
Murder number four also occurred in Belize City. Preston Reynolds, 22, was riding his bicycle on Jane Usher Boulevard, when two assailants who were also riding bicycles opened fire on him.
Anita Pineda, 34, a mother of 3 children, was the fifth murder victim. Pineda was lured to the home of a relative of her ex-common-law husband, Ruben Cassasola, in the Kontiki area of San Ignacio Town. Cassasola lay-waited her and viciously stabbed her in the neck and chest.
Cassasola had reportedly been abusive to Pineda during their relationship and she had taken out a restraining order against him.