A former Miss Venezuela, Monica Spear Mootz, was killed along with her ex-husband, businessman Henry Thomas Berry, during an armed robbery alongside a Venezuelan highway, police said Tuesday. The couple, who were vacationing with their 5-year-old daughter, were apparently accosted, shot and killed after they tried to lock themselves within their vehicle, which had broken down. Fortunately, the child survived the attack and robbery, but was shot in the leg during the incident.
The Associated Press reported (via Yahoo News) Jan. 7 that the slaying took place near Puerto Cabello, which is Venezuela's main port. They were headed to Caracas, where Berry, a British national, runs a business. Director of the country's investigative police, Jose Gregorio Sierralta, told reporters that the vehicle they were traveling in hit a sharp object on the road.
As the car was being loaded onto a tow truck, Spear Mootz and Berry were attacked by an unknown number of assailants. They tried to barricade themselves inside the disabled vehicle but to no avail.
The child, Maya, witnessed the entire incident and was also wounded in the leg. She was treated at a hospital and was given over to the care of family members.
Sierralta also noted that Puerto Cabello police arrested five individuals suspected of taking part in the attack. Some of the suspects are under the age of 18.
It is unknown what or if anything was taken in the robbery, according to The Inquistr.
Monica Spear, 29, represented Venezuela as Miss Venezuela 2004 in the Miss Universe competition in 2005, placing fifth. She traded her crown for a career in acting, becoming a popular soap opera actress, most recently on the Telemundo telenuevo "Pasion Prohibida."
Friends said the former Miss Venezuela had been vacationing with her ex-husband, the 39-year-old Berry, for the past few days. Although divorced, the two remained on good terms for the sake of their daughter.
As recounted by the Christian Science Monitor, the robbery and killings highlight a Venezuela that is becoming all too familiar to the rest of the world. The country had the fourth highest murder rate in the world, according to a United Nations report in 2010. The Venezuelan Observatory on Violence released a report in December that revealed the number of murders had gone up 14 percent in 2013 (from 2012) to nearly 25,000.
The report (via the Associated Press) revealed that Venezuela recorded 79 homicides per 100,000 people, a statistic the government finds to be lower. The report also noted that 95 percent of the murders went unsolved.
Monica Spear kept her fans updated on her vacation on Twitter and Instagram. One of her last posts was a video where she was on horseback blowing a kiss.
Spear and Berry would have headed back to Florida, where both had homes, next week.