By NALINEE SEELAL Wednesday, October 2 2013
MYSTERY surrounds the murder of a couple believed to be foreigners whose bullet-riddled bodies were found in a cocoa estate in Mamoral yesterday. Just how and why did Jose Vasquez Marcano and Gladys Otize, who were supposed to check in at a guest house in Maraval, end up dead in a forested area of central Trinidad, has left detectives perplexed.
It was a labourer at an agricultural estate located at Brasso Piedra in Mamoral who stumbled upon the bullet-riddled bodies of Marcano and Otize who police said are Venezuelan nationals.
Officers who later arrived at the scene were able to identify the bodies as being Marcano and Otize after viewing video footage of persons who arrived on a flight at Piarco International Airport from Margarita on September 29.
Initial checks on the bodies revealed Marcano was shot six times — five to his head and once in the face — while Otize was shot three times in her upper torso. Sources told Newsday the point-blank range of the gunshots, suggested the two were executed.
Both victims who police said are from Margarita, were found fully clothed and did not appear to have been beaten or sexually molested prior to being killed.
According to reports, at about 7.50 am yesterday, Kamal Mahabir, 54, a labourer, was on his way to the Machechong Estate when he saw the body of Otize lying at the side of a dirt trail in the cocoa estate.
He quickly alerted another estate worker Vincent Roopchand who rushed to the scene. A few minutes later, both labourers discovered Marcano’s body. The labourers used their cellular phones to contact the police who arrived shortly after and cordoned off the area.
A party of officers led by Superintendents Harry, Johnny Abraham and included Inspector Terrence Williams, Sgt Jitindra Toolaram and others carried out a search for clues and interviewed the two labourers.
Police officers later found a suitcase near to one of the bodies with a tag “V4004 Marcano” written on it. Crime scene officers took possession of the blue suitcase which was found in the trunk of a car that was found abandoned nearby. The suitcase and its contents were last night being processed at a police forensic lab in Cumuto last night.
According to sources, the killers after dumping the bodies drove off in their car which was blocked when a tree unexpectedly fell across the road, blocking the car’s path. Officers said that marks on the thick trunk of the fallen tree, suggests that the killers made a futile effort to remove the tree from the roadway. When this could not be done, the killers abandoned the vehicle and escaped on foot.
Officers later traced the vehicle which carried a license plate PBU 4473 to a man of Ravine Sable, Longdenville who claimed it had been stolen by gunmen who held him up on Saturday. The car was later towed from the area. Sources said the car is being carefully searched for fingerprints and other evidence.
Newsday was able to verify that Marcano and Otize who were in their early thirties arrived in the country on September 29 from Margarita aboard Con Viasa Airlines Flight No. V4004. On their arrival they were supposed to book themselves into a guest house in Maraval where they were to have stayed for the duration of their visit to this country. However, a clerk at the guest house, when contacted, claimed there was no booking in the names of Marcano or Otize. No one by those names had ever stayed at the guest house the clerk said.
The general manager of the guest house later contacted Newsday asking that the name of her businessplace not be published because she claimed that business was bad and any mention of the business place to these murders, could further affect her operation.
Last night, detectives from the Homicide Investigations Bureau revealed that the murder victims may have visited Trinidad several times in the past and attempts were being made to ascertain what was the nature of their previous visits.
Officers were last night liaising with their counterparts at Interpol in Caracas to assist them in getting more information about the victims and to ascertain if they had a criminal record or if they were law-abiding citizens who came to this country for legitimate reasons.
Police have ruled out robbery as a motive for the murders. Assistant Police Commissioner Wayne Dick who is in charge of the Homicide Bureau told Newsday although information has been derived from Immigration forms filled out by the victims, he and his team are still in the process of carrying out a verification exercise and all the relevant agencies Venezuela will be contacted to assist in this homicide probe.
He said it was too early to give a motive for the killings because all the pieces of the puzzle are still being put together but he is confident that his officers will make a breakthrough as time goes on. Efforts by Newsday to contact Venezuelan Ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago Maria Eugenia Marcano Casado for a comment proved futile. The bodies are now at the Forensic Science Centre in St James where autopsies are expected to be carried out later this week. Investigations are continuing.