Tragedy in Belize: Part Two

Back in my forensic days I  interviewed several murderers and one serial killer. Most were guilty of anger impulse crimes, often committed under the disinibiting influence of alcohol and  when the courts  were provided  with support of provocation, they were issued sentences for manslaughter convictions  eg : Two young men argue outside a bar in the parking lot. Both are inebriated. One in fit of rage draws a knife and stabs the other in the sternum. He is dead before he hits the ground- manslaughter, 6 years.

Another young man with schizophrenia had an acute episode where he hallucinated his mother morphing into the devil. He promptly strangled her – not guilty by reason of insanity.

A sociopathic paroled inmate dated a nurse who tended to him in prison. She dumped him due to his abusive controlling nature and began dating others. He shot  her after stalking her at work- first degree murder.

A middle-aged man who was babysitting a young child of family friends became acutely angry realizing he had wasted his life and was jealous that the child had his life ahead of him and so he strangled him-  2nd degree murder.

A young insurance exec hired a contract killer for 10k$ to murder his wife who was divorcing him and “taking him to the  cleaners”. The contractee who was apprehended, “ratted” on him and my patient  gets 9 years for  counselling murder. My only label for him was narcissistic personality.

Substance fueled anger, rage, jealousy or paranoid delusions were  the common denominators in the forensic psychiatry of these cases I dealt with as is true of many capital crimes.

Now after reviewing  these examples let’s have a look at the description of a sociopathic professional killer…

“Jose Manuel Martinez  51, who lived with his mother in a rural farming community, said he was a professional contract killer and debt collector for a Mexican criminal organization.” His procedures involved dumping his victims in ditches and fields and leaving them tied up. Signature strangulation and duct tape were part of his M.O.

I have never interviewed an assassin but I suspect they might not have a formal psychiatric diagnosis or a personalized anger or jealousy motive, much like Jules and Vincent from the film Pulp Fiction. Just regular guys  doing a job for which no emotion is attached. Guys with psychopathic character  structures who easily blend in.

Returning to the tragic murders of Mr Devoursney and Ms Matus in Belize we can assume that,  following Belize tradition, the crime will never  be solved, FBI help notwithstanding. The killers reportedly left no clues.The victims cell phones are missing and with them the possibility of any SIM card evidence.  There might be DNA but Belize has no forensic analysis  capability. Professional killers do not steal valuables as this is of no value to them  and is not ” professional” conduct.

The bodies were dumped several miles from their car in a cane field that was about to be burned. Speculation has it that  the killers then scooted over the border to Mexico. The best place for this would probably  be some 30 or so miles down a  not very busy back road and then on to the short and shallow Blue Creek- La Union  unmanned border  crossing (top map, crime spot is in red)…..

The Belize police have  focused  their investigation on members of the expat community and theorize that  they are protecting the guilty party(s) and hypothesize that the crimes  involves some vague real estate swindle as suggested here  wherein  it is thought that “Matus may have been collateral damage”. But other reports suggest that because she received prior threats that DeVoursney was the innocent bystander. The police currently believe a “business transaction” gone awry is likely behind the murders, but who the prime target was remains a mystery. The type of business remains unspecified.

A government official theorized that  ex pat psychopathology and “colonialism” creating tension between locals and foreigners was to blame.   And cynically I suppose the upshot is that local gringo real estate barons  hired a regional executioner at bargain rates for unclarified reasons.

It is bad for tourism if Belizeans were the culprits, but they almost certainly weren’t  as this bungled rookie crime is more their style.

The Belizeans have their own jungle telegraphed theories.  Apparently the victims got involved “with the wrong people…. the boyfriend of the Canadian girl was involved in drug related activities and the poor girl was just in the way. It  is a shame this happened and the poor girl had to lose her life as well”.  Either way even if someone knew the killers’ identity no one wishes to end up decomposing in a cane field and the locals on both sides of the border  will probably remain silent.

Unsurprisingly, a few days ago the FBI, coordinating with the Belize police and the Mexican Federales, closed the Chactemal bridge between Mexico and Belize over the Rio  Hondo. A helicopter patrolled the river. The story originating in surcaribenoticias.com (now offline)  in part centers around corruption and human, drug and booze trafficking over the borders. Undoubtedly people are being questioned on the Mexican side.

This border fluidity is nothing new. Indeed a fellow once offered to take me over the river by canoe do some “duty-free ” shopping in Mexico. And the adjacent duty free zone in Belize has always been a den of iniquity. I bought gas there one time and while doing so, a late-model mustang pulled up and offered some “white lobster” for sale (cocaine). I said no thanks and the two chaps in the car then offered to buy my vehicle with cash.

So the FBI triggered bridge closure is a sideshow. The killers would likely not cross here anyway. Beyond all this speculating and theorizing we are left with the fact that the grieving process experienced by the victims’ families will be protracted due to lack of closure.

Belizeans will blame the expats who “take the best land” and often sequester themselves in high-end enclaves. The eccentric libertarian expats who enjoy no or low taxes will paradoxically blame the country for ineffective law enforcement and judicial ineptitude.

The question often asked however is, is Belize safe for long-term relocation?  The answer is that if you live quietly, modestly and respectfully then absolutely positively maybe.

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6 Responses to “Tragedy in Belize: Part Two”

  1. Claude Francis says:

    I continue to be amazed at the places you’ve been and the situations and circumstances that you’ve found yourself in.
    I does make it possible and appropriate for you to offer insights into tragic crimes such as what happened to this couple who may or may not have provided a catalyst that might have led to their unfortunate demise. As I’ve said before and continue to say, ” you’re either part of the solution or part of the problem.
    I’m referring here to their possible involvement in some kind of clandestine illegal activity that put them at risk. Perhaps they didn’t know what or who they were dealing with. All the more reason to err on the side of caution a be “part of the solution” as it were.
    I thank you for providing background information that offers some reasons and possibilities for how and why these crimes are often committed.
    I love the last line;
    “The question often asked however is, is Belize safe for long-term relocation? The answer is that if you live quietly, modestly and respectfully then absolutely positively maybe.”
    Best to stay home where it’s reasonably safe sometimes, but it’s the brave souls that have traveled the world, some to exploit it and some to experience and witness the beauty and wonder of what the planet has to offer.
    Thanks and cheers.
    Claude Francis.

    • kristina nadreau says:

      I have lived quietly, with Belizean neighbors that I am on good terms with, in a simple Belizean neighborhood in Corozal. I have a tall fence, a husband who is well liked by all, 4 dogs, rarely go out after dark, do not drink or hang out in bars and I have been attacked and robbed and burglarized, and ripped off by workers who claimed competency.

      I have lived elsewhere in the Caribbean, where these events did not occur. I have lived in western & midwestern USA, where these events did not commonly occur.

      I have also lived in the historic district of a large southern city which was undergoing gentrification, thus it still qualified as an urban slum. The only difference between the slum and Belize is that I could drive for 10 minutes and be safe, and purchase quality goods without having to cross a border and pay fees to do so. there was always a functional criminal justice system.

      I can not encourage people to visit or relocate here, even tho it is in my financial best interests to keep my mouth shut and head down.

  2. Carole Kocian says:

    The fact is that tourists are attracted to Belize as a vacation destination because of the beauty of its natural setting and its access to the world of tropical activities underwater. There’s less of a chance that visitors would encounter troubles such as described here since they typically do not stay in country long enough. Stemming from that is the attractions lead to people believing they could possibly live there long term. But just as in the home country visitors come from, there are problems that are not visible in a short stay as a tourist. Belize’s government is unstable and unable to provide necessary services to its citizens. Those who live there and do not have resources to leave lack critical government services such as infrastructure, education and a means of making an adequate living because of a lack of investment that would provide jobs. The largest employer is the government and oversight of those people who are government employees is very lacking. Corruption and crime are often the only means of making a living wage for the vast majority of citizens who are unskilled. Most are honest and live their lives just as anywhere but it is very day-to-day. Taking all that into consideration along with challenges of living in a foreign country are things not probed deeply enough by would-be residents thinking of living long term and giving up what they had in their home country in trade for unknowns like creature comforts. Yes, personal safety is subjective anywhere but taking in all of the detractors of living in a poverty stricken country or a poverty stricken area of a solidly governed country are special considerations needing deeper than usual thought.

  3. d jackman says:

    The article is bull. The FBI had nothing to do with international borders. Stop trying to get your 15 minutes of fame off of this tragedy.

    • Allan Seltzer MD says:

      Thanks for your input Dennis

    • Claude Francis says:

      There is value is sharing one’s own first hand experiences with others to provide some insight in what goes on in places like Belize that foreigners are enticed to come and visit. I don’t see where that has anything to do with with someone getting their “15 minutes of fame”. You’d be surprised where agencies like the FBI might be operating.

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