Friday, June 21, 2019 –
Police believe that three bodies which were found in the past 24 hours, one Thursday evening and two this morning, are linked, and that the three men were killed at the same time and dumped into the sea. Up to dusk today, Coast Guard and civilian personnel were conducting searches off the coast of Belize City, because two other men are still missing, and are presumed dead as well.
Around 4:30pm Thursday, Police were called to an area near Swallow Caye, three miles where they found a body floating. The body was brought into the Belize City and taken to the medical school at the Burrell Boom junction where an examination concluded that cause of death was traumatic shock as a consequence of gunshot wounds. During the examination, the body was identified to be that of Travis Cooke, 23, by family members.
The second body was found around 6:30am today, floating in the sea in the Yarborough Area, behind Reggae Street. The body was decomposed, and so was retrieved and transported to the medical school, where it was identified to be that of Belize City resident Ernest Wills, 49.
Even as Police identified that body, they received word of a third body floating near Swallow Caye. With the assistance of the Coast Guard, Police were able to retrieve that body, identified to be that of Winston Santos, 40.
Police believe all three men were shot and dumped into the sea. At a press briefing called this afternoon, ASP Alejandro Cowo explained that “Information we have received is that it was a group of fishermen that left from Belize City enroute to one of the cayes about ten miles off Belize City, where they fish for lobster. I believe they departed on Tuesday morning, and the last time family heard from them was Wednesday at 6:00 in the morning.”
According to Cowo, interviews with family members indicate that there were two other persons with the three men, but he confirmed that the families of the two other men have not come forward. At this point it is not known if the men are dead, but it is presumed that they are.
Police would not speculate on a motive, because the investigation is still in its preliminary stages. The Reporter will have full coverage of this story in this week’s paper.