Haitian Authorities Find Father Sought in Slayings
NAPLES, Fla. - Florida detectives may be flying to Haiti Tuesday to question a man about the slaughter of his wife and five children inside their North Naples home.
Mesac Damas, 33, is being held by Haitian police on a Collier County warrant charging him with violating his probation after being convicted of battery on his wife, Guerline Damas, 32, earlier this year, Collier County sheriff's officials said.
Acting on a missing persons report filed by relatives, deputies Saturday night found Guerline Damas and her five young children, ages 9 to 11 months, slain inside their North Naples townhouse. The victims' throats had been slit, according to the family.
Sheriff Kevin Rambosk said he doesn't want to wait for Mesac Damas to be extradited to the United States on the probation charge, which will take an indefinite amount of time.
"We'd like to go as quickly as we're able to. We can have somebody there (today)," if the Haitian government gives approval, Rambosk said during a Monday afternoon news conference.
Rambosk also said they are waiting on fingerprint confirmation that the man being held in Haiti is Damas.
In Haiti's capital Port-Au-Prince, Damas, a server at a Naples restaurant, said he returned to the country to "say goodbye to my family." Authorities said he flew to Haiti from Miami on Friday morning, a day before the bodies of his wife and children were found.
"I was going to turn myself in. You see, I've got my suit on and everything," Damas said during an interview at the jail where Haitian police are detaining him. He wore a blue suit coat over a white T-shirt, his hands fastened behind his back with plastic ties.
As he was being led to his cell, Damas said he didn't want to be touched. "I don't want no pain, no suffering," he shouted, according to The Associated Press.
Damas did not respond when asked if he killed his wife, the AP report said.
Rambosk stressed that Damas has "not been charged with any crime in connection with this case," but he is a person of interest in the killings of his family.
Damas' father, Jean Damas, said he was glad to hear about his son's arrest. "That's great, that's great," he said when contacted at his east Naples home.
He said his son should face the death penalty if he's convicted of slaying his wife and children: Michzach, 9; Marven, 6; Maven, 5; Megan, 3; and Morgan, 11 months.
Haitian police said they found Damas hiding in a house near a low-budget motel. They didn't say what led them to the house.
Guerlin's brother, Edson Dieu, said Mesac Damas was turned in after the family posted a $10,000 reward.
He said his brother, George Dieu, was with authorities who found Damas four or five miles from Guerline's mother's house in Port-Au-Prince.
"It won't bring my loved ones back," Dieu said, "but maybe there will be some kind of peace for my family."
That Damas was found so quickly isn't that surprising, according to Melody Bales, a Naples resident who taught in Haiti during the 1980s and sells Haitian arts and crafts here.
"Gossip spreads like wildfire down there," said Bales, who adopted her daughter, Rachel, now 17, in Haiti.
Also, "children are very special, very precious in Haiti. I can't see Haitian people willing to hide a mass murderer," Bales said.
A reward in Haiti - a poor country - also helps, Bales said.
While authorities were detaining Damas in Haiti, dozens of Collier sheriff's investigators and deputies on Monday continued to process the slain family's townhouse for clues, including any fibers, fingerprints and blood, said sheriff's Capt. Chris Roberts.
"It's a two-story house and it's going to take a while to collect everything," Roberts said.
"I've had 30 to 50 investigators and deputies on this case for the past 24 hours," Rambosk said.
Roberts added, "We have an idea what the murder weapon was," but he declined to say if detectives have found any weapons linked to the crimes.
Five of the victims were found in two upstairs bedroom and the sixth victim was found downstairs, sheriff's Capt. Chris Roberts said. He refused to say which victims were found where.
A moment of silence was observed Monday morning at Osceola Elementary School in North Naples, where the three oldest children attended classes. There were also crisis counselors on hand for children stricken with grief over the deaths of their friends.
It may take the Collier County Medical Examiner's Office a few days to complete the autopsies of the victims and release official causes of death "because of the numbers involved," Rambosk said.
Edson Dieu said that the family still had not received the bodies from the authorities.
He said the family intends to hold services in Naples or Fort Myers, but no details have been worked out.