This afternoon in Santa Elena, funeral services were held for Sylvan Roberts Jr., a noted member of that community. It was a huge funeral, hundreds of mourners gathered - and right that it should have been, Roberts was a pillar of the community, upstanding, family oriented and a devout Seventh Day Adventist.
But, none of that mattered on Friday night when three men, invaded his home and killed the 39 year old. It is one more home invasion in that district which has seen a frightening number of such events this year.
But, this one ended with a father of two dead - apparently the victim of a random, senseless attack - the kind of violence that it seems could be visited on any home - except that on Friday, it came looking for the Roberts family.
Here's what happened:
Jules Vasquez Reporting
The Roberts' home is in Santa Elena, in a not very populated area - which is about half a mile and up a hill. A barb-wired fence surrounds the well-appointed bungalow, which does not have burglar bars.
And for all its span the fence does have plainly visible breaches - such as this area where a driveway might be. And adjoining the property is this forested area - which must be very dark at night since there are no streetlights.
Police say that on Friday night at ten to eleven - in a downpour - thieves got in through the main door by breaking an adjoining window.
That window breaking is what woke up Sylvan Roberts and his wife, Diana:
Inspector Claudio Mai, Deputy Officer Commanding San Ignacio Police "A report from his wife stated that at about 10:50, they were both in their rooms when they heard the breaking of glass coming from the living room. Mr. Roberts came out to check and that's when she heard a single gunshot. And when he peeped through the door of the bedroom, she saw the culprit dressed in full black, with a mask on his face and with a small firearm. Another culprit came to where she was, pushed opened the door, and that was when she was hurt, receiving a head wound due to the fact that the culprit pushed opened that door. She was asked for jewelry and money; she handed over $50 that she had. Then the culprit went to the daughter's place and also stole a piggy-bank that they keep. A person that was in the house, likewise, managed to escape and he called for assistance. That is when a close neighbor fired at the culprits."
They ran off on foot, into the buses - with a mere 50 dollars. And for that paltry sum - the life of this 39 year old, Director of Imaging Services at Loma Luz Hospital and father of two girls, was taken.
Inspector Claudio Mai "When the police arrived there, they found the body of Mr. Sylvan Roberts in a pool of blood with a single gunshot wound to the left armpit. He was rushed to the close-by La Loma Luz Hospital. However, he succumbed to his injuries while undergoing treatment."
A Dr. administered CPR in the house and only detected a faint pulse - by the time he reached the nearby Loma Luz, he had expired.
A post mortem said he was shot to the heart.
Jules Vasquez "Is there any indication of what events to the shooting of Mr. Roberts? Did he resist? Did he have a firearm? Did he pose a threat to them? Or did they shoot him for apparently no known reason at this time?"
Inspector Claudio Mai "I don't want to speculate, Mr. Vasquez, and we are investigating right now. We are investigating, and only the investigation will tell us exactly what transpired."
Police have detained one person:
Inspector Claudio Mai "We have a person in custody. We have detained many, and we've interviewed them. We have one person in custody and we are checking on others as we speak."
But the more worrying issue is the trend of armed home invasions in the Cayo district - there have been at least 6 since August.
Jules Vasquez "There have been other home invasions in the Cayo District, occurring in the latter half of this year. Do you believe that this one is in any way related to those?"
Inspector Claudio Mai "No Jules, we have persons that we were and are still investigating in respect to the burglaries that occurred in October, and we know for a fact who they are. But because the police needs first-class evidence to get these people behind bars, that is the reason why we don't have them."
And while that is less than confidence inspiring - what is most bothering about this is the apparent randomness and the cruel timing, killed just a day before Christmas in front of his two daughters - and besides what great treasure could have been found in this very religious man's home?
Jules Vasquez "Anyone who knows Mr. Roberts knows that he's a devote Seven-Day Adventist, and this is not the type of person who might have large amounts of cash in their homes. He's not someone in the import business, or certainly not in illicit activities. Do you think that they went to the wrong home? How could they have been so misguided?"
Inspector Claudio Mai "Unscrupulous individuals see nothing but what the outside is telling them. For some reason, you live in a house that looks good; culprits would want to go in there. They don't know what they are looking for, and it is pathetic to say that a man with high religious beliefs would be a victim of such unscrupulous things that are happening now."
But pathetic or not - it has happened, and now the communities in the twin towns of San Ignacio and Santa Elena have to cope with the fact that one of their own was killed for no reason at all in his home.
Sylvan Roberts was laid to rest yesterday in his home town of Santa Elena. The thirty nine year old ultra sound technician was shot and killed in his home on Friday December 23rd when armed men broke into the Robertsí home. Robertsí death has both shocked and infuriated the community. The outpour of support for the family of Sylvan was evident as hundreds of people showed up for his funeral at Sylvanís home church. Various members of the medical community, including the entire staff of La Loma Luz, national and international leaders and pastors of the Seventh Day Adventist Church, friends, and family all gathered to pay their last respects. Sylvan Roberts leaves behind his wife and two young daughters. Up to news time today, we have not been made aware of any arrests, only the detention of two male persons in connection to the murder and burglary.
On Wednesday night, we told you about the ruthless home invasion of thirty four year old Sylvan Roberts, an ultrasound technician of Santa Elena, Cayo. Roberts and his family were inside their home when he heard noises in his living room and upon making checks he encountered masked and armed robbers inside his house. One of the assailants shot Roberts who later succumbed to his injuries. The assailants took a small amount of cash after they ransacked the house. On Wednesday, San Ignacio police had a minor detained and were looking for two others. News Five understands that two men are in detention and are being investigated in connection with this murder.
Cayo police have charged two men for the murder of Santa Elena resident Sylvan Roberts.
As we reported, Roberts was killed in a home invasion just before Christmas. Gunmen got off with fifty dollars and a piggy bank - and for that, the life of the 39 year old father of two was taken.
On Friday, police charged two men for his murder. They are a 16-year old minor of Red Creek Area in Santa Elena Town, and 22 year old Donovan Casildo, 22yrs, of Esperanza Village.
BDf Corporal Arrested In Cayo For Possession of Prohibited Ammunition
Last week, Cayo police arrested a BDF soldier for possession of unlicensed firearm and prohibited ammunition. It's not the trove of weapons that was stolen in October, but it is something.
It happened in Santa Elena in the Cayo District more than a week ago on December 22nd, where Police searched the residence of 34 year old BDF Corporal, Gerald August, originally from Billy White Village.
Inside the house, they found 1 Black Petro Berretta 380/.9mm pistol.
A further search in the yard behind the kitchen led to the discovery of 6 red in color Siller brand 12 gauge cartridges.
And them police had to dig in the ground, to find a magazine loaded with twenty-seven 5.56mm live rounds and three Metal clips each containing 10 live rounds of 5.56mm, all total (57) 5.56mm rounds - those are the kinds used in m-16 rifles.
Also present at the time of the search was Loida August.
And so, on Friday 23rd December, Police formally arrested and charged Gerald August and Loida August jointly for the offences of Kept Firearm without Gun License","Kept Ammunition without Gun License" and "Kept Prohibited Ammunition".
Cayo Police are also reporting that yesterday at 7:15pm Police searched a yard in Santa Elena Town and found an assortment of ammunition, including prohibited ammunition, such as .45 and .44 rounds.