Belize City Hall in Belize City, Belize. (Wikimedia Commons/User: Padraic Ryan)
On Saturday evening, outside of a downtown bar in Belize's capital, Belmopan, police peered into the bed of a pickup truck parked outside of a bar. There, police say they found cash, firearms, and a bucket. Inside the bar was William Mason.Inside the bucket was a head, which belonged to a local pastor. The truck, even his own attorney admits, belonged to Mason.One TV station has billed the murder as the "crime of the decade." Another said that the killing had "paralyzed the country."
According to local media, based on interviews with lawyers, prosecutors, and police, Mason refused to cooperate with police, and officers had to break into his truck in order to continue the search. From there, they searched Mason's pig farm in a nearby town where police believe they've found the burnt remains of a body.The victim, Pastor Llewelyn "Lue" Lucas, was, according to a local TV station, "loved and respected by everyone." An image of Lucas' severed head sent to VICE News shows that it was stuffed into a plastic bag.Police have accused Mason and four others of a spate of charges, including murder and kidnapping, with the promise of more to come. But formal charges have yet to be laid, and it's unclear if they ever will be. The men have since been released."So far, we understand that there was some transaction that had been going on between these people and it appears that there was a fallout," Acting Commissioner of Police Russell Blackett told media.Police said they were also looking at Mason in relation to a separate incident, an attempted kidnapping, that occurred two months prior, of "another Canadian and his wife."But the largest mystery remains: just who is William Mason?7 News says he's been billed in the community as a "vet, a pig farmer, a property developer, heck, he even said he was a chef — and he wasn't just talk, William Mason owned a mansion and a huge 160 acre ranch, among other valuable assets." The station interviewed the country's national security minister, who admitted to taking money from Mason for his football club.
It appears that William Mason is not, however, his real name. Local media obtained birth certificates from both Belize and Guyana — the former refers to him as Mason, the latter calls him Rajesh Ouellet.But, whatever his name is, he's left a string of seemingly fake medical companies in his wake, across two continents.In June, he joined the mayor and city officials to brief the public on preparations for the 2016 hurricane season. According to 7 News, he represented "Belize Medical Technology."Mason said then that Belize Medical Technology boasts a team of 25 volunteers, "drone services, medical services and various different forms of evacuation services," and "lighting capacity to light up a place like a football field."But that press conference appears to be the first, and last, mention of Belize Medical Technology — until Mason's arrest.
Raj Ouellet was listed in a local Guyanese news story as CEO of health company 7 Oceanz in Guyana in 2012, with an expected investment of $25 million, where he bragged of his relationship with the country's health minister. The 7 Oceanz website is still active, and offers an assortment of medical equipment for sale, some ranging into the tens of thousands of dollars. American, Canadian, Guyanese, and international numbers listed on the site either went unanswered or were disconnected.
"Got totally scammed, haven't seen a dime of it since….and Ted is nowhere to be found."
A 2013 conference on the Carribean coconut industry lists Teddy Ouellet, CEO of 7 Oceanz and resident of Guyana and Canada, as a participant. His contact information for the conference included a Guyanese phone number, and another with a Texas area code, which also pops up as the number for Mel Ferguson, a contact with an American medical company.In 2010, Rajesh Ouellet appeared before an immigration judge in Montreal, Quebec, to appeal a deportation order issued after he was convicted of a firearm offence. While Belize media have reported Ouellet as a Canadian citizen, it's unclear if he actually held citizenship, whether he was in the process of applying, or whether he was merely living there on a residency permit. Canadian officials could not confirm Ouellet's citizenship, or lack thereof, and weren't aware of hearing any contact from the man or the Belize authorities as of Tuesday morning.A Canadian scam site alleges that Ouellet — Ted, Teddy, Rajesh, Ramesh, Danny, Raj — had hopped from Toronto to Guyana to Belize. The site lists his girlfriend as Melissa Ferguson."Back in October of 2007 I signed an agreement with Ted Ouellette [sic] & the managing partners of Stylus Canada (which has now gone under) lending the company $10,000 plus interest for 2 months," writes one poster on the site. "Got totally scammed, haven't seen a dime of it since….and Ted is nowhere to be found."
A picture of Ouellet included with the site does bear a striking resemblance to Mason.
Ultimately, Mason might not even stand trial. 7 News Belize reported on Monday that police had failed to properly fill out some paperwork required to bring charges."The prosecutor admitted that the facts do not disclose enough evidence to bring those charges. So they were not arraigned today," said Herbert Panton, Mason's attorney. "The matter has been adjourned to Belize City and they have been ordered to be released."It could be weeks before they are arraigned before a Belize City court, if they are arraigned at all. The men have been freed until then.Some local reports indicated that the arraignment of the five men may finally happen on Tuesday afternoon.With files from Nathaniel Janowitz