DAMAS FAMILY KILLINGS COVERAGE
ONE YEAR LATER:
- Year after slayings of Guerline Damas, five kids, relatives ask ‘did it really, really happen?’
- Confessed killer Mesac Damas wants to die, so should court system let him?
- Damas family slayings: Year later, still haunting lives of friends, family, deputies
- Jail phone call: Accused killer Mesac Damas talks to father about his slain family, Satan and adultery
MESAC DAMAS CONFESSION VIDEO:
DAILY NEWS STAFF JOURNALISTS TALK ABOUT THE CASE:
- THE FIELD: Naples Daily News staff writer describes how he obtained an interview with Mesac Damas
- THE FIELD: Visual Journalist Greg Kahn discusses being the first journalist at the Damas crime scene, and other observations from the field.
- THE FIELD: Staff Writer Steven Beardsley answers questions about his interview with Mesac Damas
Police in Haiti have detained a man wanted for questioning in the slaying of his wife and their five children in Florida.
An Associated Press reporter saw Mesac Damas in custody at a police station near the Port-au-Prince airport Monday afternoon. Two officers confirmed it was him. They spoke on condition of anonymity because his capture had not been publicly announced.
Damas' wife and their five children, ages 9 years to 11 months, were found slain Saturday inside their apartment in Naples, Florida.
Police in Florida say Damas boarded a flight to Haiti from Miami International Airport on Friday. The Collier County Sheriff's Office in southwest Florida says the 33-year-old Damas is a person of interest in the slayings.
POSTED AT NOON
Collier detectives may soon be headed for Haiti, in search of the "person of interest" in the Naples family slaying.
In a press conference, Collier County Sheriff Kevin Rambosk said the agency was in touch with FBI and Immigrations and Custom Enforcement (ICE), two federal agencies attempting to broker an agreement with Haiti that would allow Collier officials to investigate within the country, possibly in coordination with Haitian officials.
He said he spoke with FBI officials Monday morning.
"I certainly am open to sending our deputies down there once we have an agreement in place," Rambosk said.
There is another press conference scheduled for 4 p.m.
Mesac Damas, the 33-year-old father of the five slain children and husband to slain wife Guerline Damas, is believed to be in Haiti after a Friday morning flight. The agency has not named him a suspect in the case, and Rambosk said he is still only wanted for questioning.
He said he didn't know if Haitian authorities were searching for Damas on their own, and he said the agency has no direct contact with officials from the country.
Rambosk offered few new details in the conference. The agency has not disclosed the manner in which the victims were killed, although multiple family members have said their throats were cut.
The bodies are at the medical examiner's office for autopsy, he said.
Detectives have spoken with coworkers of both Guerline Damas and her husband, and they have canvassed the neighborhood where the family was found, Stratford Place, on Whipporwill Lane, off Pine Ridge Road.
The agency has received few tips, the sheriff said, and he appealed for more assistance from the community.
The bodies of Guerline Damas and her children were discovered Saturday evening inside their townhouse, after a deputy responding to a missing persons report entered the home.
The children are named as: Michzach, 9; Marven, 6; Maven, 5; Megan, 3; and Morgan, 11 months.
They were six victims — six different people with six unique personalities.
Now, in a family slaying that Collier County Sheriff Kevin Rambosk has called the “most horrific and violent event” in county history, investigators in two countries are searching for one man, the only family member not found inside the home, 33-year-old father Mesac Damas.
“This is the worst of the worst,” Rambosk said.
Deputies discovered the bodies of Damas’ five young children and wife, Guerline Damas, 32, in multiple rooms at the family’s North Naples home Saturday night. Guerline Damas’ brother, Forends Dieu, said he was told the victims’ throats were cut.
The children were named as Michzach, 9; Marven, 6; Maven, 5; Megan, 3; and Morgan, 11 months.
Damas, considered a “person of interest” in the case, has been traced to Haiti, and his vehicle was recovered in the parking lot at Miami International Airport. Investigators in Haiti were searching for Damas on behalf of the Sheriff’s Office, Rambosk said.
Family and friends, meanwhile, remain to cope with the enormity of the loss.
“It’s very tough to figure out how we’re going to bury six family members all at once,” Forends Dieu, 37, older brother of victim Guerline Damas, said on Sunday.
Details of the slayings, as well as the stormy relationship between Mesac and Guerline Damas, emerged Sunday.
Rambosk, in a press conference, said the crime scene stretched across multiple rooms. Without giving details, he suggested the brutality of the killings.
“In no uncertain terms, this is the most horrific and violent event this community has ever experienced,” he said.
Deputies’ attention was first drawn to the house Friday evening, after Guerline Damas’ sister called the Sheriff’s Office to say she hadn’t heard from her sister in the past day.
A deputy conducted a welfare check at the family’s townhouse, at 864 Hampton Cir. After scanning the outside of the home and finding no signs of forced entry, and after a failed effort to reach someone at the door, the deputy departed.
The sister filed a missing person’s report at noon the next day. When officers obtained a key and entered the home Saturday evening, they found the bodies.
Guerline Damas worked at a nearby Publix grocery store. Her husband is employed at Miller’s Ale House, where he was last seen at 9 p.m. on Thursday. Detectives said he arrived at Miami International Airport at 7 a.m. on Friday, and they believe he caught a flight to Haiti shortly before 10 a.m.
The three school-aged children were absent from classes at Osceola Elementary School on Friday.
Friends, family and acquaintances all described the relationship between the Damases as troubled, if not regularly abusive. Court documents suggest the same.
Mesac Damas was arrested in January on a battery charge, in which he was accused of striking his wife, forcing her to drop the youngest child.
He was involved in three other domestic violence cases since 2005, one in which he was accused and two in which he accused Guerline Damas. Of the latter, a judge dismissed one and declined to issue a protective order for the other.
In the 2005 case against Damas, a judge issued Guerline Damas a protective order, but the young mother requested it be lifted days later.
Detective Chris Roberts of the Collier County Sheriff’s Office said deputies had also been called to the home “a handful” of times, with no charges pressed.
Mackindy Dieu, 24, Guerline Damas’ brother, said his sister wanted a divorce.
“They was always getting in arguments but he was a loose cannon,” Mackindy Dieu said. “You never knew what he was doing next.”
Dieu said the kids were “happy-go-lucky” but affected by their father’s abuse.
“When I would go over there, they would say ‘Uncle uncle, daddy hit mommy,’” Dieu said.
Marie Aimee, a friend of Guerline Damas, said she warned the young mother that her husband’s abusive ways could end in her death.
Likewise, Pierre Merone the senior pastor of First Haitian Baptist Mission of Naples, where the family attended months ago, said Guerline Damas had spoken to him about the abusive relationship.
In an undated posting on his Facebook page, Mesac Damas suggested he had changed his ways — “NO MORE OTHER WOMEN” he wrote in capital letters, adding “AS FOR ME IN MY HOUSE WE WILL SERVE THE LORD.”
Mesac Damas’ father, Jean Damas Sr., reached Sunday, said he believes his son committed the crime. He described Guerline Damas as disrespectful to her husband.
The couple had been together ten years, investigators said, but only married in 2007, after the birth of their fourth child.
Mesac Damas is only being sought for questioning, officers said Sunday, and detectives are not ruling out various scenarios for the deaths or the possible involvement of more than one person.
If Damas is charged with a crime, he will need to be extradited from Haiti, a process that will require the Sheriff’s Office work with federal agencies. Countries can only extradite to the United States based on established treaties. The United States has an extradition treaty with the country dating to 1904, but no official procedure is in place, according to the Web site for the Organization of American States.
Asked Sunday whether Collier deputies would travel to Haiti if needed, Roberts, the detective, left the door open.
“Never say never,” he replied.