Monica Spear Mootz, Miss Venezuela 2004, Killed in Front of Daughter

Image: Monica Spear Mootz, Miss Venezuela 2004, Killed in Front of Daughter

Wednesday, 08 Jan 2014 09:48 AM

By Alexandra Ward

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Five suspects, some reportedly younger than 18, were arrested this week in connection with the killing of former Miss Venezuela Monica Spear Mootz, who was slain along with her ex-husband in front of the couple's 5-year-old daughter Monday night.

The fatal highway robbery shook the nation where crime runs rampant and has officials rushing to prosecute those responsible.

"There will be no tolerance to those who carry out acts like that, killing decent men and women, who have a right to live," Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said in a statement Tuesday.

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Mootz, the 29-year-old beauty queen who was crowned Miss Venezuela in 2004 and went on to star in Telemundo soap operas, was driving with ex-husband, 39-year-old British citizen Thomas Berry, Monday night when their sedan hit "a sharp object that had been placed on the highway," Jose Gregorio Sierralta, director of the country's investigative police, told The Associated Press.

Two tow trucks arrived on the scene shortly after and Mootz, Berry, and their 5-year-old daughter were reportedly in the car that had been lifted onto one of the truck's flatbeds when the attackers converged on them, shooting through the windows. It's not clear whether the victims called the tow trucks or if the drivers were involved in the armed robbery.

Mootz and Berry were killed and their daughter, Maya, was wounded in the leg, the AP reported. Authorities later said the girl was in stable condition and was with relatives.

Puerto Cabello police arrested five suspects Tuesday, but no other details have been released about the alleged assailants.

Violent crime is especially prevalent in Venezuela, according to the AP, which noted that the United Nations has ranked it 5th globally on the list of countries with the highest murder rate.

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