Still no arrests in murder of Melvin Almendarez
Monday, May 9th, 2016
The San Pedro Police Department continue their investigation in the murder of 31-year-old local athlete Melvin Almendarez, Honduran National. Almandarez’ life was cut short on Friday night, May 6th in South Ambergris Caye. It was first reported that a single gunshot wound to the head was the cause of his death. However, the results of the post mortem examination stated otherwise. According to the post mortem results, Almendarez died from acute pulmonary edema, face trauma as a consequence of blunt instrument type and a gunshot wound to the abdomen. The family contradicts the last part of the report, and claim that he was shot in the testicles, not in the abdomen. After receiving the body, the family also speculates that Almendarez was run over by a golf cart or vehicle after he was murdered.
During the initial investigations a Canadian National was taken into police custody as it was reported that he was the last person Almendarez was seen with before he was found dead. However, police were unable to tie him to the murder, and after being in custody for over 48 hours, he was released without charges. The irreplaceable loss of life has left a family shattered, and the whole community is in shock. The question remains; what lead to this tragic incident.
Almendarez had a clean police record; he was not a trouble maker and was known in the community for his positive contribution to the youth. Why someone would want him dead? As police continue their investigation, their official report sustains that on Friday, May 6th, at around 11:30PM, the San Pedro Police acting on information received, visited a feeder road in Southern Ambergris, where they discovered the lifeless body of a Hispanic person. The body was later identified as Melvin Almendarez, who at the time of the discovery, according to the police, had injuries to his head, face and abrasions to his chest. Further investigations reveal that Almendarez was observed heading to the southern part of the island by members of the South Ambergris Caye Neighbourhood Watch (SACNW). It was reported that he was seen in a golf cart with another gentleman. Shortly after a gunshot was heard and the golf cart was observed heading back out with only one person aboard. Following a patrol of the surroundings, members of the SACNW discovered the body and immediately notified the police.
The area was quickly secured, and the following day, Saturday, May 7th, after 11AM, a Scene of Crime officer processed the crime scene after which the body was transported to the Dr. Otto Rodriguez San Pedro Polyclinic II, where he was pronounced dead on arrival at 12:05PM by Dr. Nidia Larrinaga. The body was then transported to the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital in Belize City for a post-mortem.
At the crime scene, investigators were unable to find an expended shell from the presumable weapon used in the murder. As to the motive for his murder, that remains a mystery, as the police are still trying to put all information together on the incident. “So far we have been unable to establish a motive as the investigation is very young,” said Officer in Charge of the Coastal Executive Unit Superintendent Sandra Bowden. “We have some information we are working on, however, at this time there isn’t much that we would be able to reveal in terms of what has been done so far and where are going with the investigation.” She also indicated that no evidence was found that could point to any illicit activity that would have led to the murder. She also mentioned that Almendarez was not known to be a trouble maker to the police, and in fact, was well known in the community as a talented football player.
Sports Coordinator at The San Pedro Town Council, Kent Gabourel was one of the first persons to reach the scene where police officers asked him to identify the body. “I received the call at around 2AM, and I knew something was wrong due to the time of the call. I was in disbelief and even after I identified the body, I still did not want to believe it. Up to today, I can’t process what has happened,” said Gabourel.
Almendarez, affectionately known by everyone as “Catracho” or “El Papi,” is described as a passionate sportsman. Gabourel knew him for many years, indicating that Almendarez was heavily involved in football. “He was always humble, friendly, and I never heard of him being disrespectful to anybody or giving trouble,” said Gabourel. “The passion that he had for football was beyond expectations. He was a dreamer, he had dreams that someday he could play in the Belizean National Football Team or even go back to Honduras to play professionally. He also wanted his elder son to be a professional footballer and was actively involved in coaching children between ages of 6 – 15 in football.” According to Gabourel, Almendarez worked as a house painter in order to dedicate enough time to the sport. Every evening after 3PM he would be at the football pitch coaching kids on the sport. Recently, he had been coaching an Under- 11 team in the ongoing Five-A-Side Football Tournament on the island. “He will be greatly missed. He had a big positive impact on our community, especially the children.”
The Almendarez family is devastated, and according to his wife Nancy Almendarez, they demand justice and hope police punish the culprit responsible for his death. “He did not deserve to die like that; he was a good husband and father. He was a role model for the children, particularly in football. It was his life. Everybody will miss him,” she said. Mrs. Almendarez realizes that she will now be father and mother to their three children, and even though it will not be easy, she understands that life must go on.
Almendarez was buried on May 10th on Ambergris Caye.
A fundraising football marathon is scheduled from Sunday, May 15th. The marathon will take place at the Honourable Louis Sylvester Sporting Arena from 10AM. All teams are invited to participate. Registration fee is $100 and trophies will be awarded to the winners. All proceeds of the event will go towards Almendarez’s family. Everyone is encouraged to come out and support the worthy cause
Please help support Local Journalism in Belize
For the first time in the history of the island's community newspaper, The San Pedro Sun is appealing to their thousands of readers to help support the paper during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since 1991 we have tirelessly provided vital local and national news. Now, more than ever, our community depends on us for trustworthy reporting, but our hard work comes with a cost. We need your support to keep delivering the news you rely on each and every day. Every reader contribution, however big or small, is so valuable. Please support us by making a contribution.Click to Donate