Early this morning, San Pedro police recorded their first murder of the year when they found a woman bleeding from the neck at the entrance to an apartment complex in the San Juan area. The 23 year old worked as a waitress at a local bar and investigators believe that Honduran Johana Samantha Mendez's killer waited for her at the entrance to her apartment. So who would want her dead and why? Emanuel Pech travelled to San Pedro to look for answers:
Investigators in San Pedro are still grappling with the case of 23 year old Johana Samantha Mendez Barrios a Honduran National who was fatally stabbed early this morning. The incident occurred around 5 am here at the Parish Apartment Complex in the Boca del Rio area. The owner of the complex who refused to speak to us on camera said that she has known Johana for the past two years; since she started renting with her. In all her years of knowing Johana she said she always appeared to her as a friendly person who kept to herself. So who would want her dead? That's what authorities are trying to find out.
Supt. Sandra Bowden - O. C. San Pedro/ Caye Caulker "This morning sometime between 5 and 5:45am, police was called out to the Basil Parish Apartment Complex in the San Juan area of San Pedro Town where they found one female with a cut wound to her throat. She was assisted to the hospital where she later died at the polyclinic."
The attack started here inside her room. There was no forced entry and police say that the key to her room was found still lodged inside the lock. Neighbors said they heard strange noises coming from her apartment but by the time anyone came out to help the damage had been done and her attacker had already fled the scene.
Voice of: Witness - Honduran Murdered "She was just walking down the stairs. I followed her and she was knocking on her friend's door."
Her bloody finger prints still mark her friend's doorsteps, a reminder of the violence she experienced. But why? Well one of her neighbor's alleges that she said they attempted to rape her.
Voice of: Witness - Honduran Murdered "I asked her what happened and then she said that they tried to rape her."
Voice of: Witness - Honduran Murdered "She was holding her neck and bathing in her own blood. Then her friend was holding her trying to stop the bleeding."
Emanuel Pech "You guys attempted to call the police."
Voice of: Witness - Honduran Murdered "About 5:04, we attempted to call the police, but then like 5:06 - 5:10, we call again. They said they were on their way but never came. So, the neighbor brought his golf cart and that's when the police came. She was still alive."
By she got to the hospital there was nothing that could have been done. Authorities say her blood was diluted from recently consuming alcohol. Johana is a Honduran National and has no known relatives in country. The only connection she has in Belize is that she worked as a waitress here, at the Compadres bar, an establishment known for its after dark commercial activities. Still police have no motive or suspects for her murder.
Supt. Sandra Bowden - O. C. San Pedro/ Caye Caulker "At this time the investigation is still young. We have some information that we are working on and as soon as we have more, then we would be able to give an update."
Reporting for 7 news Emanuel Pech.
Police have a main suspect, a male who they believe was harassing her because she didn't want a relationship with him. Police believe she was also robbed of more than five hundred dollars.
We are told that Johana Samantha Mendez had a 2 year old child in Honduras. The Honduran Embassy is communicating with her family in Ceiba. Notably, the first murder in San Pedro last year was also a Honduran female who was a bar worker.
Not unusual to have to go get the police but for an assault, this is shameful. More egregious is the comment "Authorities say her blood was diluted from recently consuming alcohol." Not sure who the "Authorities" are but if they are doctors, they need to change careers.
She was in a risky business, far from home .... Very likely because she perceived no other prospects for a better life. I wish we all demanded more out of life for young single mothers. She did not deserve to die this way. And due to her lifestyle few will care, as evidenced by the dismissive comment by police related to her having been drinking. I doubt she willingly/happily chose to leave her child behind so she work in a "big boys sports bar". My heart breaks for her child, her family and the large numbers of women who are trapped in similar situations.
Further to possible motive (which police say was theft)..... Customarily the ladies are paid on Mondays and are paid in cash. If you follow the timelines of the report, she was assaulted in the early hours of Tuesday.
Still No Arrest in Murder of Waitress in San Pedro
Police continue to search for a person of interest in the murder of Honduran national Johana Samantha Mendez Barrios. The waitress of Compadres Bar in San Pedro was cut to the throat inside her apartment on Tuesday morning at the Basil Paris Apartment Complex. Mendez Barrios sought assistance from her friend on the lower flat of the complex, but died as she received treatment at the San Pedro Polyclinic. Surveillance cameras from a nearby shop show that just before one a.m. that day, a man arrived in a taxi and left hours later; minutes later, Mendez Barrios would be found hemorrhaging on the scene. Still yet, that person has not been located.
One week ago Honduran Johana Mendez Barrios was killed inside her apartment, her throat cut. Investigators have made some progress in that case, but are appealing to the public for assistance in tying up loose ends.
Insp. Henry Jemott, Deputy Coastal Executive Officer
“What we have done in that case is that we have detained two persons for whom we’ve sent up fingerprint samples and different aspects to try and find out who committed this crime. We haven’t had the cooperation of the public to a certain extent in solving this crime and it is very alarming because these rooms are very close to one another and people are refusing to come forward and give us the statements that we need to actually put together a proper case in this matter.”
“I know when we first spoke to you on this matter the investigation was preliminary. Have you all been able to determine if somebody was waiting for her or if it was somebody she had in the room with her when she was murdered?”
Insp. Henry Jemott
“We have reviewed some footage and the way it looks is like someone was waiting. Someone was waiting and they made good their escape shortly after committing that heinous crime.”