PATRICK E. JONES Reporting: The worst fears of a family from Independence village were confirmed late this evening when police found the body of 24 year old Kayla Burgess. Previously we had reported her name as Kayla Pandy.
The family raised the alarm of her apparent kidnapping after they say a text message was received on one of her brothers’ cell phone demanding a ransom of $250,000.
Based on her last known communication with a friend, Kayla had indicated that she was in Bullet Tree Falls village, and that is where police in San Ignacio concentrated their search this afternoon, culminating with the location of Burgess’ 2004 Kia Sorrento SUV.
Reports are that he body was found with the vehicle and it appears that she had been strangled.
The story started to unfold just after 4 o’clock this afternoon when the family reached out to the media to ask for help in locating Kayla.
A family member said that when Kayla left Independence village, it was believed that she was heading to Belmopan.
How she ended up in Bullet Tree Falls village where her body was found this afternoon is still am mystery as Kayla’s family say they know of no reason why she would have been in that village.
One of Kayla’s brothers, Caral Pandy speaking with me by telephone from the family home in Independence village confirmed that he got a text message on his cellular phone with a time stamp of 4:12 pm which said: “bring $250,000 tomorrow to Cayo or else somebody else will get hurt.”
The brother says that when he dialed the number from which the message was sent, which is his sister’s phone number, a man answered and before ending the call, the man warned him not to get the police involved.
After the call ended, subsequent calls to the number went unanswered.
The brother says that half an hour later, a chilling message was sent from his sister’s phone to their mother’s phone which said “please help me.”
As the police investigation into the murder of Kayla Burgess picks up steam, it is understood that at least one suspect was taken into custody tonight in San Ignacio town for questioning.
According to a source, that person – a young man – appears to have cuts and scratches on his hands and chest.
Kayla Burgess is a recent graduate of the University of Belize.
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