The five-year-old daughter of British expat Thomas Berry and his ex-wife, former Miss Venezuela Monica Spear Mootz, is unaware that they have been murdered, it emerged today.
Mr Berry, 39, and his 29-year-old wife, who was Miss Venezuela 2004 and is an American citizen, were gunned down by thieves after their car broke down on the Puerto-Cabello to Valencia highway at about 10pm on Monday.
Police had said that the pair were shot in front of Maya – who was also hit in the leg – as their car was being loaded onto a tow truck they had stopped after puncturing a tyre on the motorway between Puerto Cabello and Venezuela’s third largest city Valencia.
But in an interview today, Ms Spear’s brother Ricardo claimed the girl was not yet aware of her parents’ fate.
‘Maya isn’t yet aware that her parents have been murdered’, he told NTV24.
‘It’s a terrible tragedy what has happened to her and as long as we can give her time to recover we will be there for her.’
‘She’s taken a bullet to her leg and is injured. She’s in a private clinic in Caracas and is safe with her grandparents.’
Meanwhile, a violent gang known as ‘The Quick Ones’ are being investigated for the couple’s brutal murder.
One of its members, called Adolfito – or little Adolfo – was captured by neighbours and handed over to police on suspicion of shooting dead the couple, according to authorities. ‘El Adolfito’ is said to have been arrested by police on at least nine occasions.
Two other suspects aged just 15 and 16 are also being held. Police made a total of five arrests.
Rafael Lacava, mayor of the town of Puerto Cabello near to the scene of Monday night’s horror shooting, revealed the gang of six – called ‘Los Rapiditos’ in Spanish – also include two women.
They have been questioned by local police and now face further scrutiny from murder squad detectives and state prosecutors.
‘El Adolfito’ is said to have been arrested by police on at least nine occasions.
Police believe the couple may have fallen victim to a trap after a recent spate of robberies where grates have been taken off drains or holes dug into roads to force cars off the road.
Police have confirmed the pair were shot in front of Maya as their car was being loaded onto a tow truck they had stopped after puncturing a tyre on the motorway between Puerto Cabello and Venezuela’s third largest city Valencia.
Police chief Jose Gregorio Sierralta said they were killed after locking themselves inside their Toyota Corolla to stop their attackers stealing their car as the tow truck driver and an assistant ran to a police checkpoint a mile away for help.
‘Unfortunately as the car was on the upper part of the tow truck several individuals surprised them and shot them inside the vehicle after seeing they had locked themselves inside,’ Mr Sierralta said.
Relatives from both victims’ families arrived in Venezuela today for their funerals, due to take place on Friday.
Mr Berry, who described himself as an independent travel consultant in an online profile, lived in the capital Caracas, according to El Universal.
He moved to Florida for a short time after he was shot 15 years ago in a robbery that killed his friend.
It is understood Mr Berry and his wife had separated last year, but were still close friends and holidayed together for the sake of their daughter.
Ms Spear’s father, Rafael, told the Orlando Sentinel: ‘It is the deepest pain, the deepest pain. It is unbelievable.
‘She was very charismatic, a very good daughter, a very good mother, and she loved Venezuela.’
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Maya meanwhile was being comforted by Monica’s family and her British-born paternal grandparents Tom and Kate, at a hospital in the Venezuelan capital.
Mr Berry’s sister Katie, who lives in Edinburgh, was expected to join her retired university maths professor dad and mum today.
She and her brother moved to Venezuela as young children but she returned to Britain to find work with her Venezuelan husband.
Mr Berry, 39, a travel firm boss, also used to return regularly to Britain to see family and friends.
Ms Spears’ parents live in Orlando, Florida, and the actress lived with them while she studied at the University of Central Florida.
Ms Spear’s aunt Mariela Mootz described her niece – voted Miss Venezuela in 2004 – as a ‘sweet young girl’.
‘She was so sweet, just like you see her in the photos,’ she said.
‘She was as beautiful a person on the inside as she was on the outside.
‘She was very loving and dreamed of triumphing in French cinema after spending time in France where she learnt the language.
‘There was no need for what happened. There’s no respect for life anymore.’