David and Anke Doehm charged with ‘Cruelty to a Child’; Investigations continue into Faye Lin Cannon’s murder
Thursday, July 13th, 2017
American couple David and Anke Doehm have been formally arrested and charged for the crime of Cruelty to a Child. They also remain the prime suspects in the death of 13-year-old Faye Lin Cannon, Anke’s adoptive daughter. Faye died on Monday, July 3rd inside the Doehms apartment north of San Pedro Town. At first, her death was treated as ‘Sudden Death,’ but then the results of the post-mortem revealed that she had been physically and sexually abused, and the coroner listed her cause of death ‘due to compression on the chest, causing internal haemorrhaging’. The Doehms were arrested on Thursday, July 6th and kept at the San Pedro Police Station. On Tuesday, July 11th, they were transported off the island to the mainland, where they were jointly charged on Wednesday, July 12th.
According to the initial police report, at about 7AM on the day Faye was found dead in her room, the Doehms claimed that the child woke up, asked for water and went back to bed. About 15 minutes later, David went to check on the child and realized she was unresponsive. After police arrived at the scene, Faye was pronounced dead at 8:57AM. The body was observed to have bruises to the arms, legs and there was swelling to the right side of the head which appeared to be a cut wound. Her parents explained to police at the time that her bruises were a cause of her mental illness wherein from time to time, she would hit herself against the walls. They also claimed that Faye had been inside her room for the past three weeks refusing to come out or eat anything. Additionally, Anke said that her daughter had complained of difficult, breathing on Sunday, July 2nd.
However, when the post-mortem results were revealed on Thursday, July 6th, Faye’s death was officially ruled as a homicide. The results indicated that Faye had been abused sexually and physically, and the cause of death was due to compression on the chest, causing internal haemorrhaging. She had three broken ribs that punctured her heart. Both parents were immediately apprehended and brought to the San Pedro Police Station, and an intense investigation began.
Officer in Charge of the Coastal Executive Unit, Superintendent Henry Jemmott indicated that the San Pedro Police Department was doing everything in their power to solve the matter. He also stated that Faye’s three other sisters had been handed over to the Human Development Department, with the assistance of the Embassy of the United States.
By Friday, July 7th, island residents’ outrage was palpable, as they collectively made their way to the police station to protest and demanded justice, saying that San Pedro Town needs to ‘wake up.’ When they heard the allegations from the Doehms about Faye being mentally ill, many refuted the allegations, stating that the child was bright and reportedly a straight ‘A’ student at her former school; Isla Bonita Elementary School. However, she had not been enrolled for some time, and residents questioned this issue as well.
The general consensus of islanders is that Faye’s death was preventable. Many people claimed that they knew something was wrong, and that somehow, they suspected that perhaps all was not well within her family. David and Anke operated a boutique named Rubimoon in downtown San Pedro, and many say that Faye and her three sisters were often seen outside of the boutique exposed to the elements. Long-time residents state that they made several reports to authorities, including to the Human Development Department office on the island and the Embassy of the United States, but nothing ever came of it. “This has been a cry for three and a half years; [the Doehms] have been abusing these children. We reported these incidents, but nothing was ever done. The system has failed the community, nothing is ever done,” said concerned resident Shelley Huber during the short protest. “When they abuse a child, they abuse us as a community. We want no mercy for these people.”
However, according to Jemmott, there was only one official report in 2014, in which the island’s Human Development officer, along with the police, made a visit to the Doehms’ residence. They did not find anything wrong at the time. Jemmott claims that no other reports were made.
Mayor Daniel Guerrero stated that he was not aware of the alleged abuse the girls were experiencing, even though the Doehms’ business was right across from the San Pedro Town Council building. “I was not aware of anything happening, but I feel like we failed,” he said. “I believe that the entire community feels like we failed, I wish we could have known before this tragic incident took place.”
The same feelings were shared by Area Representative and Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation Honourable Manuel Heredia Jr. “I can only extend my sincerest condolences, and hope that the weight of the law is extended as hard as possible,” he said. Heredia, indicated that he would follow up with Adan Kay, who is the Human Development Officer on the island, about other possible cases happening here.
While the Doehms spent the weekend in police custody, residents held a peaceful demonstration on Saturday, July 8th through the streets of downtown San Pedro. Hundreds of supporters armed with posters and signs marched through the streets, calling for justice and demanding authorities for an immediate action against the culprits. “We need to protect our children! Enough is enough,” one protester said. Before returning to the Central Park, demonstrators made a makeshift memorial at Faye’s adoptive parents’ business place.
On Monday, July 10th both David and Anke were taken to San Pedro’s Magistrate Court for their hearing. David was charged for the possession of a small amount of class C controlled drugs, namely diazepam (Valium). He pleaded guilty to this charge and was offered bail, which he could not pay. Anke on the other hand, pleaded not guilty, stating that the drugs were not hers. David was then re-arrested and Anke was set free. But as she stepped out of the police station, she was detained once again, pending investigation on Faye’s murder.
The couple was to remain at the San Pedro holding cell for another 48 hours as the investigation continued, but on Tuesday, July 11th, they were suddenly whisked off the island to Belize City in a private boat, along with other prisoners. From there, David was taken to the Belize Central Prison in Hattieville and Anke was kept at the Queen Street Police Station in Belize City. Time was running out, and police admitted that they did not have enough evidence to lay charges on them regarding Faye’s murder, and would have to release them at the end of the 48 hour detention.
On Wednesday, July 12th, acting on the directive from the Director of Public Prosecution, Anke was charged with the crime of ‘Cruelty to a Child.’ David was brought in to Belize City on Thursday, July 13th, where he was formally arrested and charge for the same offence. The police explained that the crime would be tried on indictment, which means that the persons will go before a judge and jury at the Crown or Supreme Court. The sentence for such a crime is 10 years in prison. While there were no murder charges levied on the couple, police say the investigation continues.
The Doehms moved to Ambergris Caye in 2014, along with the four girls. As multiple sources have confirmed, David is not the adoptive father of the children. A former neighbour of theirs in Kaneoke, Hawaii USA, Cara Barber, spoke to the media, stating that at one point she was granted a temporary restraining order against the couple. “Right off the bat they started being combative and hostile with us,” said Barber. “My family and my children were afraid of them. But we were also very fearful for the children because we did not understand how they could even be responsible for their care. They did not seem interested in them, they had no concern for their safety, education, and they simply did not care about them.”
Faye’s remaining three siblings are in the care of Human Development and a counsellor from the U.S Embassy receiving care and treatment. Police will continue their investigation.
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