AUDIO INCLUDED IN THIS STORY:The Public Prosecutor’s Office and the Sint Maarten Police Force are hereby informing the public that they claim to have solved 3 of the recent fatal violent crimes that were committed on February 26th and March 4th of this year.
Item found during investigation (an earring)
Police Chief Mr. Ricardo Henson
On Thursday April 7th 2011, three men were arrested. They were to be considered the main suspects of, at that time, two violent robberies and a rape. They were arrested in relation to those crimes, not as suspects of the fatal crimes.
The suspects are:
S.R., 20, born in Dominica
C.A.R., 31, born in Dominica and
J.B.S., 28, born in Dominica.
Investigations since February 26th 2011 and subsequently since March 4th had indicated that the findings of the Police in the so called Regatta investigation into the three fatal crimes showed a certain similarity between these three cases. It was therefore assumed in one of the possible scenarios, that these three fatal crimes were interrelated and could very well have been committed by the same suspect or suspects.
Senior detectives from the Special Unit Robberies in the Police Force added very valuable information to the Regatta investigation. They pointed out that in recent weeks and months on similar locations a series of serious crimes had been committed, yet – fortunately – never ending in the death of one of the victims involved. The Regatta-investigation team focused on three police reports concerning two violent robberies and a rape. During this side step investigation into other crimes, goods, stolen during the two robberies could be tracked down to three suspects, which led to the suspicion that these three men were involved in the robberies and rape cases.
While investigating these three crimes, the team of detectives was focussing on similarities between the three occasions. They were trying to establish whether these similarities could also have significance for the three fatal crime cases in Mullet Bay, at Cay Hill and at the Cake House road. Because if more similarities were to be established, they also could be of relevance to this part of the investigation into the fatalities.
Although the stolen goods were more or less tracked down, the detectives did not know the identity of the suspects. Once they closed in, it appeared that one or two of the suspects were planning to leave the island. Through thorough investigation, Police were able to establish the whereabouts of the three suspects and, since more evidence came to the Police they were able to identify the suspects, track them down and finally arrest them on April 7th. With the three, two other men were arrested by the Swat team. During the subsequent investigation they did not seem to be involved in the three crimes that were under investigation. One was released by the prosecutor on Sunday April 10th. The other one was released by the judge, who considered that there were insufficient grounds for his arrest. He was set free on Monday, April 11th.
Since rape and violent crimes were involved the three suspects were asked to agree with taking a DNA-sample. They did.
During a number of house searches various objects were seized. They will be examined by forensics. Subsequently the car, a black SUV, used by one of the suspects was impounded. This car matched a description in the rape-case. The car has been examined by forensics and relevant material was retrieved from the car.
The past week the suspects were confronted with the three crimes they were suspected off. Specially trained detectives questioned them one after the other. One by one they started to confess their involvement in the three crimes they were arrested for. With different roles, but all involved one way or another.
Finally, confronted with the findings about these three crimes and the possible similarities with the three fatal crime cases, one after another started to give detailed information about one or more of the fatal crimes at Mullet Bay, at Cay Hill and at Cake House Road. Sometimes implying a co-suspect, sometimes admitting to their own role in those cases.
Public Prosecutor Mr. Hans Mos
The interrogations have – up to this point – brought the Prosecutor’s Office and the Police investigation team to the conclusion that these confessions find enough corroboration in the statements of the co-suspects and in the findings on the various crime-scenes. It is therefore that we now feel confident to say that we consider the violent fatal crimes at Mullet Bay, Cay Hill and Cake House Road solved.
The investigation so far, seems to indicate that 2 of the suspects (S.R and C.A.R.) were actively involved in the violent robberies, the rape and the fatal crimes, while a third suspect (J.B.S.) fenced several goods that were taken during these robberies, while knowing the other suspects had committed these crimes. Further investigation into the different roles of the suspects are still to be conducted.
In total, given the reported crimes by victims and the three fatal crime cases, it seems that during this investigation Police have solved the following crimes, since the suspects have confessed their role in these crimes:
1. Cheetah Moon (death of L. Guillevin, Mullet Bay, February 26th )
2. LU (death of F. Louis, Chopin Road, March 4th )
3. Cake House (death of E. Nova Valdez, Cake House Road, March 4th )
4. Aqua (rape, February 12th )
5. Etna (violent robbery, February 12th )
6. Zoo (violent robbery, February 23rd )
Police Chief Commissioner Mr. Peter De Witte
We have reason to believe that these suspects are responsible for more violent crimes on Sint Maarten. We therefore call upon everyone, who has become the victim of a violent robbery or rape, and has not yet filed a complaint at the police station, to do so. It is also possible to call the special phone number 5422222/5422721 to contact the police. Either as a victim or if you have any information that could assist the investigation.
It seems that the way the suspects operated was, while pretending to be a gypsy taxi, to pick up potential victims. If the victims did not want to get in the car, they were sometimes forced to. They were ill treated in the car and taken to a deserted place to be robbed and sometimes even worse, as we now know.
The three suspects have been led before the investigating judge this morning and were remanded in custody for a period of 8 days. They still are under full restrictions and are only allowed to talk to their lawyer.
Given this situation, the Prosecutor’s Office and the Police have considered it fit to inform the public about this huge success in this investigation.
This also gives us the opportunity to extend our deepest gratitude to those who have come to assist the Sint Maarten Police during these difficult times. Four fatal crime cases in a time frame of less over 8 days is a situation the understaffed Sint Maarten Police Force cannot handle by itself.
It is for this reason that the Attorney-General of Curacao, Sint Maarten, Bonaire, Statia and Saba and the Attorney-General of Aruba together with their competent police forces, have agreed on the so called TGO-arrangement. This "Team Grootschalige Opsporing" (large scale investigation team) is designed to assist in any of the 6 former Dutch Antilles islands when very serious crimes have been committed. When the seize of the investigation team needed cannot be provided by that country itself, each and every Police Force from one of the countries will assist to a certain level. This assistance includes the participation of KMar and RST.
It is therefore that our gratitude extends to our own Sint Maarten Police Force, both detectives and those in uniform, the Police Forces of Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, RST, Royal Marechaussee, and the French Gendarmes, with whom we have successfully cooperated from the very first moment. The same goes for the French Justice department. We thank the Dutch forensic specialists who were flown in to support with the forensic investigation and who did a wonderful job together with our own forensic team. On top of that we thank the Customs, the Fire Department, the Coastguard and VKS for contributing to the investigation. Special thanks go to the Dutch Marines who helped the Police with crime scene investigation in the early stages of the investigation, shortly after the Regatta. Their contribution, which they so generously offered, certainly was of relevance to the investigation. Finally we would like to thank the two prosecutors and their staff who worked relentlessly in order to solve these fatal crime cases.
Last but not least, we thank the loyal people of Sint Maarten for their patience and confidence. Case by case Police start to show that in strongly cooperating in fighting crime, this Police Force, together with its partners against crime, can overcome even the most serious crimes on this island. More and more, Police show that by learning on the job the success rate of solving these types of crimes is steadily going up. The times that one could get away with these serious crimes tend to be over. With the help of the public, we can give those, who have criminal intentions or inclinations, a firm warning that Sint Maarten will no longer accept that those responsible for these crimes can and will walk away from it.
This investigation has not yet come to an end. Much has still to be done. The assistance of Police officers from abroad will be needed for some more time. We hope you all make them feel welcome, since they performed such a wonderful job.
Finally, we cannot share this success in this investigation without commemorating the enormous grieve of those who lost their loved ones or who have personally been seriously injured or damaged, both physically and mentally by the crimes that now appear to be solved. Our deepest sympathy goes out to them and we call upon society to surround them with care and love they now so desperately need. The arrests of these suspects, although still to be considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, may be a consolation but can never heal the serious wounds that were inflicted.