The sisters left home to go to church in San Jose, Toledo District
The tragic double murder of two young women from San Antonio in the Toledo District has sent shockwaves through the rural communities in that district and the entire country of Belize.
According to Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Alejandro Cowo, the bodies of the teens were found on the San Jose road side at around 11 o’clock on Sunday night. Their bodies were partially nude and had multiple chop wounds.
ASP Cowo revealed that investigations have so far indicated that the two, Cresencia Oh, 19, and Josephine Oh, 17, both from San Antonio village, had gone to a church function in San Jose. After church, they went to their brother’s residence in the village. Police said that around 6 p.m. they were both seen leaving San Jose, by road, on foot, which is approximately 10 miles away from their home in San Antonio.
San Jose resident, Pablo Bol, told the press that he saw when the two girls arrived in the village, and saw them leaving at around 6:30 p.m. with a bag in their hand.
About two miles away from the village, in a remote and dark area, police say that the sisters were attacked with a machete. They sustained grave head injuries, which caused their deaths.
Today, Delilah Oh, a sister of the victims, told the press that the last time she saw her sisters was on Sunday. She said that when they did not return home, their father went to San Jose to search for them. He did not find them however, and so he returned home.
Delilah told the press that her parents then thought the two sisters would have stayed at their brother’s home for the night. This morning the family was informed of the tragedy by an in-law.
Delilah does not know why anyone would want her sisters dead. Mario Oh, a brother of the victims, is also at a loss as to why anyone would want to kill his sisters. He told the press that the last time he saw his sisters was on Sunday afternoon. He reiterated that they had gone in a private vehicle to a church event with some Mennonite Christians. After the event, two of his sisters went to visit their brother, who wanted to send something to San Antonio with them.
Other sisters of theirs waited behind at the church, but Cresencia and Josephine never returned.
Today, Oscar Requeña, the representative for the area in which this gruesome crime occurred (Toledo West), expressed his displeasure. Hon. Requeña said that he was extremely disturbed by the crime. He said that the rural communities of the Toledo District are normally peaceful, and that violence was a rare occurrence there.
Hon. Requeña expressed his condolences to the Oh family, and insisted that the police must bring justice for “this inhumane act.”
ASP Cowo said that a post-mortem examination is to be conducted on Tuesday to determine if the girls had been sexually assaulted before they were so cruelly killed.
No suspects have been identified yet.
Two Sisters Savagely Chopped Up and Killed In Toledo West
There was a grisly double murder in western Toledo last night. It is a crime so savage that it has left that remote rural community in a state of shock and incomprehension. Two sisters, aged 18 and 20, were found chopped to death and partially nude on a deserted road at minutes to midnight on Sunday. Daniel Ortiz has the full story. He produced this story in collaboration with PG TV:
Daniel Ortiz reporting
The Toledo family of the sisters, 20 year-old Cresencia Oh and 18 year-old Josephine Oh, were in the depths in grief when our colleagues from PGTV spoke with them today.
And, it's easy to understand why. Their loved ones left home on a quick trip to San Jose Village, a few miles away. They were expected to return, but, instead, their mutilated bodies were found on the road last night. Someone had savagely chopped them to death.
Mario Oh - Brother of the Deceased
"I saw them yesterday."
"Do you know what they were probably doing in San Jose?"
"They went for a church [service]."
"They went for church?"
"With the Mennonite."
"Some people say they saw them walking out of the village, do you know why they did not come back with the Mennonite?"
"Well, as they reached the Mennonite, and the church finished, they went - I got a brother living right there in San Jose. Now, when the church finished, they went and attended to my brother because they wanted to send something with them. And according to my sister - my other sister - she stayed in the church. She didn't go with them, but according to them, they were waiting, but they didn't arrive."
Delila Oh - Sister of the Deceased
"My father gone went all the way to Santa Cruz to meet them. When my next sisters came home, they asked my dad if they had already arrived. But, my dad told them that they hadn't reached home yet."
Some 6 or so hours later, the cops discovered their bodies.
ASP Alejandro Cowo - OC, CIB Belize City
"Last night, sometime after 10:30 - minutes to 11, Punta Gorda Police visited San Jose Village in the Toledo District, where on the roadside, they observed the nude bodies of 2 females - 1 is a minor - with several apparent chop wounds to the body. What we have so far is that the females are from San Antonio Village, and they had gone to San Jose Village to attend a church service. They went - after the church service, they had visited their brother, and whilst going back to their village, it was then that they were brutally attacked, and they bodies were found later on by police. Police is at the village trying to establish a motive, and also, what other information we can get from any person that was around in that area."
The case currently has its own difficulties. For one, the villages are remote, and quite a long distance from PG Town. So, transportation and communication are challenges that the officers in the field have been managing since this double tragedy was discovered.
ASP Alejandro Cowo
"We have no other further information. It is a remote village, and the communication with the officers there and communication with the officers in the town is kinda difficult. So, that is why we're having a little problem. We're just basing one what we have initially gotten from them early this morning. But, we have not gotten an update because of the distance."
"So a motive has not been established."
ASP Alejandro Cowo
"A motive has not been established yet. I cannot tell you if any parts of the body was dismembered, but it is very very huge chop wounds that both victims had."
And, that distance and disconnect also affected the family. They didn't find out about Cresencia and Josephine's murders until the next day.
Their father, learning that his two daughters did not come home with the Mennonite truck which took them to San Jose, went looking for them in Santa Cruz. The plan was for them to come home through that village, and a shortcut in the area.
Teodoro Oh - Father of the Deceased
"They told their other sister that they won't be coming this way. They would be heading through Santa Cruz shortcut. So, when my other daughter came from Church service that evening, it was 6:30. And, I asked her where is the other sister, and they told me that they would be coming through Santa Cruz. So, I told them okay, no problem. So, I went there there and looked for them."
Though the young women were strangers in San Jose, some of the villagers were probably the last to see them alive.
Pablo Bol - Resident, San Jose Village
"Around like 6:30, in the evening yesterday, I saw those 2 females heading towards San Antonio, or somewhere, but heading toward that area. But, they are not living here. I do not know who they are, but I saw those 2 females."
"Were they Maya females?"
"Well, [they] could be Maya, could be quechi, but they looked like Maya, yeah."
"And they walked through the village."
"They went through the village, but they were heading back to San Antonio at that time, 6-6:30 in the evening, yesterday."
Their father thinks that it was while they were on the way that they were attacked and savagely chopped.
"Do you have any idea what might have gone wrong?"
"Well... to my view, when I went and checked the site this morning. They were walking home when they were attacked."
To ensure that no more pain was piled on top this family, the police department had some words of warning to those posting lurid photographs of the scene:
Supt. Bart Jones - Legal Advisor, Police Department
"Before we post picture, whether [it's] members of the media, or [it's] members of the public, we want to send out that warning that, consider the families who are certainly being affected by these photographs."
The distance between San Jose Village, where the young women were killed, and their home in San Antonio, is about 10 miles of bad road. That 10-mile difference between the two villages is covered mostly by bush, making it a remote location, and an unlikely area for anyone to have witnessed what happened.
Toledo Alcalde’s Tell Police “Let Us Help” Solve Double Murder Of Sisters
Last night on the news, we told you about the double murder of the sisters, 20 year old Cresencia and 18 year old Josephina Oh.
On Sunday evening, they left their home village of San Antonio to attend a church service 10 miles away in the neighboring village of San Jose. They stayed back in that village to visit their brother, and they didn't catch a ride home with the San Antonio Resident who brought them.
Instead, they were attempting to walk home, but they never made it. Hours after they were last seen alive, their mutilated and partially nude bodies were found on the outskirts of the village. Someone had viciously chopped them to death.
Today, the Toledo Alcalde's Association sent out a press release condemning the violent murders of the sisters.
Their press release says quote, "These horrible acts being committed against Maya women have shaken our peaceful communities to its core....the Alcaldes call on the Police Department to ensure that (there is) a thorough investigation... The TAA stands ready to support and has been in touch with the Alcaldes of San Jose who are and will continue to collaborate with the Punta Gorda Police to resolve this latest incident." End quote.
We spoke via telephone with the Association's program coordinator, who told us that the TAA recognizes that the case could prove difficult for the police. He said that this is the reason why they want to make themselves available to assist the police to try to bring the perpetrator to justice:
Pablo Mis - Program Coordinator, MLA/TAA
"The Toledo Alcalde's Association is outraged, of course, at the act against the two young women of San Antonio. The association is aware that such against women have been increasing, not only in the Toledo District, but throughout the country. And, the Association wants to be clear in stating that such criminal acts against women and children cannot be tolerated, and that it is the duty and obligation of all members of our community to unite and to bring this to an end. The nature of this crime is that it is beyond the jurisdiction of the Alcaldes. However, the Alcaldes Association in close contact with the Alcalde of San Jose, and the Alcaldes of San Jose are prepared. They stand ready and continue to collaborate and assist the police on the ground, in terms of whatever support they might need. The Alcaldes are very familiar with the community members. They are very familiar of their community. They are a resource to go to, and it is the intention of the communities and the Alcalde's Association that the knowledge of the Alcaldes on the ground and the community members be used so that the perpetrator or perpetrators that committed this crime be brought before the law. It is a case that is very alarming to us at the Maya Leaders Alliance and the Alcalde's Association, precisely because it involved women. If this is a case where women are being targeted, then as a community, it raises the bar of which we need to act in terms of addressing that matter. We've seen these type of incidents very rare in Toledo. I think this is just the third in recent memory that we're seeing. There was the incident in San Pedro Colombia. The community was able to come together to also bring the perpetrator before the law. There was also an incident in Laguna. Again, the police were able to act very quickly about the support of community members. And now, we have this incident in San Jose."
The TTA's release from today concludes, quote. "We call on persons who may have information related to this latest incident to visit the Punta Gorda Police or seek the guidance of the San Jose Alcalde or the TAA." End quote.