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(SNO) – The investigation into the shooting death of well-known taxi and tour operator Nereus ‘Cosol’ Francis has hit a snag.
Law enforcement sources have revealed that the three young men who were in custody assisting police with their investigations have been released without charge, pending further investigations.
Many people welcomed the news yesterday (July 26) that indicated three suspects in the killing were arrested, however, investigators are now back to the drawing board.
According to our sources, the men, who are in the 20-30+ age group, were released yesterday due to lack of evidence.
Our newsroom has also received unofficial information that the men had turned themselves in because they were concerned about their safety, after rumours began circulating that they are connected with the businessman’s death.
“The guys brought themselves in because their name was being mentioned in the murder and they said threats were being made to them so they came in,” a source said.
After the men reported themselves to police they were held at different police stations until their release, the source added.
However, one thing is official: the men are no longer in custody.
This news is heart-wrenching for Francis’ family and friends knowing that a productive and adored member of society and an asset to Saint Lucia’s tourism industry has been senselessly snuffed out.
The 51-year-old resident of La Retraite, Gros Islet, who is originally of La Guerre, Babonneau, died on Monday, July 9, under suspicious circumstances.
However, a post-mortem examination subsequently revealed that he died from a “gunshot wound to the chest with injuries to the right and left lung”.
According to a police press release, “Officers attached to the Gros Islet Police Station proceeded to the La Feuillet, Gros Islet Road, about 10:40 p.m. on Monday, July 09, 2018. On arrival, the body of Nereus Francis was discovered beneath his Toyota Land Cruiser Prado registration number TX 825 and appeared to be lifeless. Medical assistance was sought and he was pronounced dead at the Victoria Hospital by a medical practitioner.”
Though police have not publicly revealed a motive for the shooting death, our newsroom understands investigators are looking at robbery/attempted robbery as a possible motive.
Some people have commented on social media that his killing may have been a hit due to jealousy or a falling out with a person or group, or him being in the wrong place at the wrong time.