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Slaying suspect Damas in Collier County jail

Sep. 22, 2009
Mesac Damas is escorted by police after his arrest in Port-au-Prince, Monday, Sept. 21, 2009. Damas, who was detained for the Florida slaying of his wife and their five children, said Monday that he returned to his native Caribbean nation "to say goodbye to my family." / The Associated Press
Collier County Sheriff Kevin Rambosk talks about the arrest of Mesac Damas in the deaths of his wife and children. / Andrew West/

Dieu family statement

The Collier County Sheriff’s Office is releasing the following statement on behalf of the Dieu family of Guerline, MichZach, Marven, Maven, Megan, and Morgan Damas:

“First, we would like to say that Guerline was the best mother, sister and daughter in the world. She was caring and loving, and we miss her very much.

“Our main concern today is getting him (Mesac) back to this country to face what he has done and get justice for our sister and daughter and her children.

“This is a family tragedy and we want the community to realize that domestic violence is a serious issue. If you have friends or family who are in an abusive relationship, please try to get them help. And to those women who are being abused, please love yourself enough to get help.

“We wish to thank the Collier County Sheriff’s Office for everything they have done for our family. We also want to thank Deputy Kevin Ward from the East Naples substation, who took the missing persons report. He was proactive in attempting to locate our sister and her children. He took our concerns seriously and we appreciate his efforts.

“We are thankful for those people who have our family in their prayers and the many people who have provided support to our family. We ask that you keep our family in your prayers.’’

Artwork made by Maven Damas at Osceola Elementary School. / Andrew West/


11:15 P.M.The News-Press and have been providing updates on the return of slaying suspect Mesac Damas from Haiti to Collier County. He was booked into the Collier County Jail just before 11 p.m. tonight. Check back with Wednesday morning for coverag of Damas' first court appearance.

11:15 p.m. update

The man who is charged for slaughtering his wife and five children in his North Naples home is behind bars at the Collier County Jail.

Mesac Damas arrived to the Collier County Jail at around 10:30 p.m., Collier County Sheriff Kevin Rambosk said at a press conference a few feet outside of the jail.
"He's in jail and that's where he's going to stay," Rambosk said.

Damas, 33, is being booked on six counts of felony homicide. Rambosk said Damas should complete the booking process in an hour or two.

Damas is currently being interviewed by Collier deputies. Damas will initially be isolated from other prisoners until CCSO determines his long-term status.

"We want to thank the FBI, FDLE, the U.S. Marshals and the Haitian government for returning him today," Rambosk said. "We need to thank everyone involved in the process because alone we wouldn't have been able to do it."

Rambosk said U.S. Marshals transported Damas from Miami International Airport to Naples. About half a dozen Collier deputies took part in taking Damas into the jail. Damas was escorted into the jail in a rear entrance, away from the swarms of media stationed at the main entrance.

Collier County Sheriff Kevin Rambosk added that he notified Guerline Damas' family that Mesac Damas is behind bars.

"They're pleased that he's back in this country and will stand for his crimes," Rambosk said.

Asked about Damas' demeanor as he was escorted into jail, Rambosk said he didn't know because he hadn't yet talked to people involved in the transport.

Damas should stand for a hearing either Wednesday or Thursday at the Naples courthouse. The hearings typically take place at 2 p.m. First, Damas needs to be placed on the hearing itinerary, Rambosk said. If his booking takes longer than anticipated, he might miss the itinerary cutoff time for Wednesday and then in that case receive his hearing at 2 p.m. Thursday.

(Page 2 of 5)

10:07 p.m. update

Two television trucks and a gaggle of media are sitting outside the Collier County Sheriff's Office Justice Center, awaiting the arrival of Mesac Damas. Damas, who has been charged with first-degree murder of his wife and five children, is expected to arrive at the justice center sometime within the next two hours.

Damas, who had fled to Haiti, was extradited to the U.S. tonight. His flight was expected to land at Miami International Airport at 9 p.m. tonight. Collier County deputies will then escort him to the Naples Jail.

Media from two television stations and one newspaper are waiting for his arrival. Damas' van is expected to go through a gate, which will then close. He could be visible through a window on the sally port. The family of Guerline Damas, Mesac's deceased wife, is not present.

8:35 p.m. update

An FDLE agent is assisting the U.S. Marshals Service in bringing Damas back to Naples tonight, agency spokesman Mike Morrison said.

“They are transporting him from Miami to the Collier County Jail,” Morrison said.

8:03 p.m. update

The man charged with killing his wife and five children in their North Naples home is on his way back from Haiti to Collier County to face prosecution.

Haitian police confirmed that Mesac Damas, 33, was taken to the airport in the capital of Port-Au-Prince at 4 p.m. their time for a flight bound for Florida, according to the Associated Press.

Damas is charged with six counts of first first-degree premeditated murder in the slaying of his wife, Guerline Damas, 32, and their five children ages 9 years to 11 months.

He faces life in prison or the death penalty if convicted.

7:24 p.m.

Family said Tuesday night that Guerline and her children will be buried following a funeral service Oct. 3 at First Baptist church in Naples.

12:28 p.m. update

Collier County sheriff’s deputies are on their way to Miami to catch a flight to Haiti to interview and bring back a man charged with killing his wife and five young children.

Mesac Damas, 33, is being held by police in Haiti.

(Page 3 of 5)

“Three investigators are on their way to Miami now” to catch a flight to the island nation, Sheriff Kevin Rambosk said in a press conference this morning.

He said the FBI is helping coordinate efforts to have the Haitian government authorize the extradition of Damas to Collier County to face the charges.

“We’d like to have him back today. It’s possible from our perspective. I’m not sure it’s possible from their perspective,” Rambosk said.

Rambosk said the warrant was issued overnight by Collier County Judge Vincent Murphy.

The warrant charges Damas with six counts of first-degree premeditated murder in the slaying of his wife, Guerline Damas, 32, and their five children: Michzach, 9; Marven, 6; Maven, 5; Megan, 3; and Morgan, 11 months.

The victims all had their throats slit.

Rambosk said he told Guerline’s immediate and extended family the news of Mesac Damas’ charges during an emotional conversation with them this morning.
“It is the most difficult thing a law enforcement officer has to do,” Rambosk said.

He said the distraught family has kept asking him “for justice” for Guerline.

The warrant helps fulfill that request, Rambosk said.

Mesac Damas caught a flight from Miami to Haiti Friday morning.

Following up on a missing persons report filed by Guerline’s relatives, deputies Saturday night entered the family’s North Naples townhouse and found her body and those of her five children.

The Collier County Medical Examiner’s Office is still conducting autopsies of the bodies and Rambosk said he hopes to get an update by the end of the week.

Damas was captured by Haitian police Monday in Port-Au-Prince, the nation’s capital.

Although he told reporters there that he intended to turn himself in, police found him hiding near a motel in the city, sheriff’s Capt. Chris Roberts said.

With several police stations throughout the capital, “he missed an awful lot of opportunities to turn himself in,”Roberts said.

Evidence found by investigators who have painstakingly gone through the house and statements made by Damas to an FBI agent in Haiti led to the warrant being issued by Murphy, Rambosk said.

(Page 4 of 5)

Rambosk declined to say what evidence was found or what Damas said to the agent.

The case, Rambosk said, is still developing.

There is still a lot of investigative work that needs to be done,” he said.

10:48 a.m. update

A man has been charged with six counts of first-degree murder in the slayings of his wife and five young children in North Naples.

Sheriff’s detectives will fly today to Haiti, where Mesac Damas is being held by police there.

Damas, 33, is charged with killing his wife, Guerline Damas, 32, and his five children ages 9 to 11 months.

Their bodies were found Saturday night inside their North Naples townhouse. Their throats had been slit.

Before the bodies were found, Mesac Damas flew Friday morning to Haiti.

Information leading to the warrant for his arrest was obtained from evidence collected at the scene and interviews that FBI agents had with Damas in Haiti, Collier County sheriff’s officials said.

1:10 a.m.: Haitian authorities find father sought in North Naples slayings

• Photo gallery: Mesac Damas detained in Haiti

Detectives may be flying to Haiti today 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 press conference.

(Page 5 of 5)

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 town house at 864 Hampton Circle 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.

- The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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