A murder investigation has begun into the series of events that allegedly led to a man, who had lived quietly for ten years on a farm near the well-to-do neighbourhood of Santa Brígida, having attacked the lawyer, say sources, who had let him live there in exchange for help around the property.
The well respected criminal lawyer, and former chief inspector of the Policia Nacional, from Gran Canaria, died this Tuesday from first degree burns suffered, according to reports, last Sunday when he was brutally attacked by a man, originally from Cape Verde, who lived on the lawyer’s farm, in the neighbourhood of El Gamonal.
The assailant, who has been named as Antonio PG, is alleged to have attacked and murdered Juan Betancor – 72 years old – by spraying him with flammable liquid and setting him on fire, then trapping him in a water tank, having also threatened the victim’s wife with a knife to her neck to make her hand over her cell phone removing her ability to call for help. The woman is said to saved her own life by climbing through a window and then jumping a three-meter wall, fleeing down a hill from the farm until she was helped by a neighbour. Antonio PG is thought to have already confessed himself as the perpetrator of the seemingly unprovoked attack.
The detainee, who was arrested at the scene, was taken back to the farm – located in the area known as Gamonal Alto – on Tuesday, accompanied by judicial investigators and his lawyer, as they proceeded to enter and search the property, collecting all kinds of evidence to try to clarify the facts of a crime that has shocked the island, local legal professionals and local residents of this quiet rural population in the north east foothills of Gran Canaria above the town of Santa Brígida.
According to sources within the investigation, Juan Betancor usually went to his farm on weekends with his wife, where they had a country house. The alleged murderer, originally from Cape Verde, apparently lived on the farm and took care of it, having lived there for more than a decade. According to what the deceased’s wife is reported to have told agents investigating, everything was normal when they arrived on Saturday, but by Sunday morning everything had changed.
She went to the kitchen to prepare breakfast while her husband went out to the garden, but then she said she began to hear screams and realised that it was her husband crying for help. When she went out to the garage she was approached by Antonio PG who, we are told, hit her several times, before throwing her to the ground then pinned her there with the weight of his body before holding a knife to her neck and threatening to kill her if she did not hand him her mobile phone. The alleged killer was apparently trying to prevent the woman from calling the police to alert them to what was happening.
After initially refusing to give him her phone, she handed it over to him when he started to press the knife to her throat, before he then locked her in a room of the house.
Terrified, she opened a window and managed to jump through it, avoiding the alleged murderer and running to the back area where she scaled a three-meter wall, jumping over it and fleeing down a slope, through a wooded area to reach the road. Mrs Betancor went to a neighbour’s house where she shouted for help, and the neighbour called the emergency services. While they were waiting for the police, they say the attacker was walking towards the house where they both barricaded themselves in, but a Local Police patrol from Santa Brígida arrived and detained the suspected attacker.
When the policemen ran to Juan Betancor’s house, they arrived to hear his screams and found him struggling in a large water tank, pulling him out of the water, they could see burns over the majority of his body. It is thought that Antonio PG first hit the lawyer, in an area near the garage, and sprayed him with a flammable liquid and then set him on fire .
The investigators are reported to be working with the hypothesis that Betancor, engulfed in flames, ran five meters to the water tank to try to save his own life. The agents found the door into the cistern jammed shut with utensils that, presumably, placed there by the aggressor so that his victim could not escape.
Investigators are now trying to clarify whether Antonio PG had beaten and set fire to Juan Betancor before or after threatening his wife with the knife.
In court today, Antonio PG was sent to await trial in prison. In principle, he is likely to be investigated and charged with a crime of murder and the attempted murder, injury and illegal detention of Mrs Betancor.