Belize City police have an island murder mystery to solve - a double murder at that. Last night, two men were executed on Caye Largo - commonly referred to as Long Caye - about 4 miles South of Caye Caulker. The victims are Mark Seawell and Gabriel Escalante. Now, we note it's not the notorious Mark Seawell who escaped extradition for drug charges a year ago - this Mark Sewell was an older relative of his. Codie Noralez and I took a boat to Caye Largo to find more answers.
Courtney Weatherburne reporting
It's not an island getaway, but the fishing camp on Caye Largo is certainly a welcomed break from the city life.
Just chilling in the afternoon breeze with a couple of friendly companions.
And on Thursday night, watchman Mark Seawell, main diver Gabriel Escalante along with another man, were making the most of the cool seaside gusts - that's until the guest shot and killed Seawell and Escalante.
They were hanging out on the third floor of this building around 11:30. The report is that Escalante left after a while and went to his room on the ground floor. That's when the man pounced on Seawell shooting him in the neck and back. The man then went downstairs to Escalante's room and shot him to the head, stomach and wrist. The shooter then hopped on the island owner Byron Marin's boat and sped off. The workers on the island declined comment today but the information we have is that nothing was stolen from the house. Now there are still more questions than answers as to why these men were targeted.
A Caye Caulker fisherman says Seawell was well known on the island. He would pass through Caye Caulker on his fishing trips and other times stop in for a couple drinks at his favorite spots. The fisherman says he didn't know Seawell to be involved in any trouble.
Porfilio Guzman, Fisherman "The last time I saw him was on Tuesday."
Courtney Weatherburne, reporter "That's Seawell right?"
Porfilio Guzman, Fisherman "Yah, I saw him fishing in water we stopped and asked him if he need help and he says no I am okay."
"As far as I know he is a good guy, really good guy, nice guy on the island when he comes, cool guy, calm guy that is all I know about him."
Courtney Weatherburne "So it was a surprise to you when you heard about his murder?"
Porfilio Guzman, Fisherman "Yes I was surprised this morning when I got the message, it really surprise me. I know him not as a trouble maker, so it surprise me."
It was a surprise for his co-workers on Caye Largo too. They all worked closely together. Seawell had been working on the island for about 8 years while Escalante started about 3 years ago as the main diver.
Their death now a mystery that investigators hope won't be lost to the sea.
Police have not recovered the stolen vessel, nor have they detained the suspect. But, the account we get from our sources is different from the one put out by police in their report. Our information says that around midnight, a group of men came in stealthily, and then stormed the island residence - moving with deliberate violence, consistent with a planned execution. One man who escaped had to do so by climbing on the roof to hide from the killers. For background it is important to note that drugs have been reported to be floating in that area recently - and these wet drops are what often prompt murders on small deserted islands.
There was a double murder on Caye Largo early on Friday morning. That's a private island close to Caye Caulker where Mark Seawell and Gabriel Escalante were killed by an unknown gunman or gunmen, who made off with the island owner's boat.
Well, police found the boat. Today when they addressed the media, the Coast Guard was going to pick it up:..
Wilfredo Ferrufino - Inspector, CIB "Prior to coming to this press briefing, we had received that there was a vessel that was found. Police and the Coast Guard will proceed to that location and confirm if it is the vessel that is from this double murder."
Reporter "Is there anything to indicate that drugs are at the root of this?"
Wilfredo Ferrufino - Inspector, CIB "There is nothing to indicate that. We are not certain of the motive at this point."
Police have since confirmed that it is the island owner's boat and it was found in Long Caye Creek - which we believe is at the back of the same island. No one is detained.
No Suspects, No Motive in Caye Lagos Double Murder
The shocking double murder on Caye Lagos on Friday has shocked the Ladyville community and left two families grieving. Forty-eight-year-old Mark Seawell and forty-two-year-old Gabriel Escalante were shot to death on the island where they worked. But the murder of the two Ladyville residents has left more questions than answers. The account provided by police differs from the reports that the family and friends have given. According to the police, Seawell and Escalante were socializing on the night when a third person on the caye turned on them. He took out a gun and shot Seawell and Escalante before making good his escape. That is the official version of events. Family and friends have received a very different account of what transpired. They say they were informed that Escalante, Seawell and another man, who were working on the caye with them, were on the island when a small boat arrived that night. At least one of the persons on the boat came on the island and approached Seawell – but shortly after he hit Seawell to the ground and then shot him. Escalante was reportedly sleeping in his bed when he was killed. The third man on the island heard the disturbance and witnessed the murders, so he remained hidden. According to the report the family received – the assailant or assailants on the boat had committed a robbery on Caye Caulker and happened upon Caye Lagos where a bigger, faster boat docked. They then killed the men because they wanted the boat. It is a very different narrative from police – and today they told us that they have no information that would suggest this angle. We asked for an update on the murders and here is what they told us:
Insp. Wilfredo Ferrufino, C.I.B., Belize City
“What police have gathered so far is that sometime around the twelfth of April, the two deceased were socializing with an unknown male and shortly after shots were fired or heard. Police arrived and found them deceased. There was a report of a skiff, a boat that was stolen after the incident and I believe that may have been used to get off the island. There is no one detained. Police are investigating that matter.”