Beauty Queen Murder Shines Light On Venezuelan Violence

Jan 8, 2014

This May 23, 2005 file photo released by Miss Universe shows Monica Spear, Miss Venezuela 2005, posing for a portrait ahead of the Miss Universe competition in Bangkok, Thailand. Venezuelan authorities say the soap-opera actress and former Miss Venezuela and her husband were shot and killed resisting a robbery after their car broke down. Prosecutors said in a statement that Monica Spear and Henry Thomas Berry were slain late Monday, Jan. 6, 2014 near Puerto Cabello, Venezuela’s main port.
Credit AP file photo

  Venezuela got a tragic New Year reminder of one of its most pressing problems: violence. Mónica Spear, 29, a former beauty queen and a popular soap opera star who was raised in Orlando, was killed Monday night during a presumed highway robbery.

Authorities said her partner Thomas Henry Berry, 49, reportedly from the U.K., was also killed and that their five-year-old daughter was injured in the incident.

Investigators said the couple was traveling from Merida to Caracas Monday night when they had car trouble. They were reportedly being assisted by a tow truck when they were approached by gunmen. Authorities said the couple locked themselves in the car and were shot by their assailants. Five people have been detained but the investigation is ongoing.

Many in Venezuela have become inured to the violence, as the country suffers one of the highest homicide rates in the world. But the death of Spear – young, beautiful and successful – brought quick condemnation and an outpouring of sympathy.

President Nicolás Maduro called the ambush a "massacre" and vowed to pull out the stops to solve the case.

In Miami, where Spear worked at Telemundo as an actress, executives were in shock.

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