Israel Perez’s suspected murderers jailed

By Michelle Sutherland
Staff Reporter

Two days after St. Matthew’s resident, Israel Perez was found stabbed to death inside a shallow grave in Harmonyville community along the George Price Highway, police have charged two Cotton Tree residents for his murder.

Israel Perez, deceased

Israel Perez, deceased

Just before midday on Thursday, Cruz Castillo, 33, and Stanley Herrera, 22, cousins, were arraigned for murder in the Belmopan Magistrate’s court. They were denied bail and were remanded into custody at the Belize Central Prison until April 12, 2018.

Sources tell the Reporter that police found items belonging to Perez at the suspects’ house in Cotton Tree, including a flat screen television, a stereo system and a power washing machine. Police also reportedly found blood stains and two shovels with fresh samples of soil, leading investigators to believe the shovels were used to dig the shallow grave where Perez was buried.

While police are still trying to determine a motive for the murder, earlier this week, Castillo was charged with ‘handling stolen goods’ after he was found in possession of Perez’ car, cell phone, house keys and jewelry, among other items.

Perez was reported missing person on February 1st, after he failed to contact family members and show up for work. The frantic search ended on February 6th, around 7:45 a.m., with the discovery of his partially nude body inside a shallow grave on the outskirts of Cotton Tree village. He had been bound at the wrists, stabbed multiple times in the chest and had a plastic bag over his head.
Police believe that Perez voluntarily went with Castillo and Herrera to their Cotton Tree home where he was killed sometime between Saturday night and Sunday morning.

Family members told the Reporter that Perez and Castillo had been childhood friends and had grown up together at Kings Children’s Home in Belmopan.

Perez was last seen alive on January 27 in Belmopan, and had told family members that he would be travelling to San Pedro to conduct a business transaction, and would return home during the course of the week.

It is not known whether Perez ever made it to San Pedro. The day after Perez was last seen alive, Castillo was seen driving around in his vehicle. When questioned about where he had gotten the vehicle, Castillo said he borrowed it from Perez.

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