Thomas Henry Berry and Wife Monica Spear, Ex-Beauty Queen, Murdered in Venezuela

Monica Spear, 29, and Thomas Henry Berry, 39, were killed Monday night when they resisted a robbery.

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — A popular soap-opera actress and former Miss Venezuela and her Irish ex-husband were shot and killed and their 5-year-old daughter was lightly wounded when they resisted robbers by locking their car doors after it broke down, police said Tuesday.

The slaying of Monica Spear, 29, and Thomas Berry, 39, was the latest high-profile crime in a country where people are regularly killed in armed robberies and where rampant kidnapping has ensnared even foreign ambassadors and professional baseball players.

Spear and Berry were slain Monday late night near Puerto Cabello, the country’s main port, while headed to Caracas after their car hit “a sharp object that had been placed on the highway,” the director of the country’s investigative police, Jose Gregorio Sierralta, told reporters.

He said the attack occurred after the car had been lifted onto a tow truck and, seeing the assailants coming, the family locked themselves in their car.

Sierralta said the couple’s daughter was treated for a light leg wound and was with relatives in Caracas. He said police in Puerto Cabello had arrested five suspects, some under age 18.

Local media reports said the pair had a good relationship despite being divorced and identified Berry as the owner of a travel agency.

Venezuela has one of the world’s highest murder rates and violent crime is so rampant that Venezuelans tend to stay home after dark. Spear’s death triggered a wave of anger on social media directed at the populist government’s poor record on crime.

President Nicolas Maduro commented on her death in remarks carried live by state TV, lamenting “the loss of a very spiritual young woman” actively involved in various charities.

According to the nonprofit Venezuelan Observatory of Violence, the oil-rich South American country’s murder rate was 79 per 100,000 inhabitants last year. Government statistics put the rate lower.

Spear was crowned Miss Venezuela in 2004 and had acted in numerous soap operas for the U.S.-based Telemundo network, most recently “Pasion Prohibida.”

She split her time between Venezuela and the United States and was on vacation when slain.

Spear had more than 355,000 followers on Twitter and her feed over the last week included brief videos of vacation scenes sent on the popular Instagram service.

In one video, posted two days ago and described as being taken on the plains of Apure state,Spear looks at the camera while riding a horse, turns away and then looks back, blowing a kiss.

Category: World Americas

  • rg9rts

    79 per 100,000 wow

    • Richard M

      A bit more than half the rate for Juarez. …New Orleans is not far behind.

      • rg9rts

        You have to take in the size of the population, Juarez is not Mexico nor is NO Jindalstan. We are talking a national rate.

        • Richard M

          Caracas Metro Area is around 10% of the nations population. So their rate of 99 per 100K has a major impact on the national rate.

          Juarez is not Mexico. But of the top ten cities on Earth, by murder rate, five are in Mexico.

    • Herb Suhl

      Investors Business Daily has it at 230, but some people think it is much higher. Mexico overall is 8.

      • Richard M

        Incorrect. 8 is the rate for the Capital district. The self reported nationwide murder rate for Mexico is 18.

        I emphasize self reported. For an example, research the self reported suicide rate for Haiti….it is 0.00.

    • epazote

      Honduras has the highest murder rate in Latin America since the coup that removed democratically elected Zelaya in July 2009.

      • rg9rts

        Not much to brag about. Like Texas boasting about their execution record. Sad

        • epazote

          Very telling was Madame Secretary Clinton’s appearance at the inauguration of Porfirio Lobo as the new, coup backed President of Honduras.
          She was giddy in her praise…standing next to Lobo, she spoke gushingly that “full diplomatic relations with Honduras have been restored” and dismissed the coup as being “an interruption in democracy”
          Zelaya’s wife won the last election, the Presidency was stolen from her. The caudillo class has regained power AND Honduras, again, is a major player in the global drug trafficking/transit point. Rightwing death squads roam the country,opposition members jailed, journalists are being murdered…but all is well per the US Dept of State


    I agree. Violence seems to be everywhere you look….

  • David Saintloth

    I happened to book a trip to Venezuela in 2011 via Thomas’s Arekay Tours company, he met me at the bus terminal in Caracas and gave me the itinerary for my trip into Canaima (where angel falls is) told me about his (then) wife and child and his dual citizenship in England he was a really cool guy.

    Thankfully I didn’t experience any of the violence that is consuming many parts of that country…even walking in down town Caracas I felt safe.