Wife killed, husband critical after home invasion

A soured re­la­tion­ship with an Erin busi­ness­man is one of the leads po­lice are prob­ing in the shoot­ing of Ran­cho Que­ma­do fish­er­man Robert Men­doza and the mur­der of his wife Ellen Joseph on Tues­day.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors said Men­doza, who owned sev­er­al fish­ing boats op­er­at­ing off T&T’s South coast and has sev­er­al gov­ern­ment con­tracts, was re­cent­ly un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion by the An­ti-Gang Unit.


The mur­der re­sem­bles the as­sas­si­na­tion of Vaughn “Sand­man” Mieres, his wife Ali­ka “Let­ty” De­here and two oth­ers on Ju­ly 25. How­ev­er, in­ves­ti­ga­tors said there was no link and be­lieved the man­ner of ex­e­cu­tion was copied.

Ac­cord­ing to re­ports, Men­doza, 46 and Joseph, 30, a COSTAATT nurs­ing stu­dent, were sit­ting in the liv­ing room of their home when gun­men en­tered the house and shot them sev­er­al times. The men then ran to a white Nis­san Ti­i­da parked out­side the house and sped to the Los Iros Beach where they torched the car. 

Guardian Me­dia was told that the sus­pects were a mix­ture of lo­cals and Venezue­lan men who fled in a fish­ing pirogue.
A rel­a­tive said that the cou­ple’s two chil­dren, sev­en and five, were in the kitchen with the maid when the gun­men at­tacked. He be­lieves the killers did not see them.

He said that around 8.25 pm, his fa­ther heard gun­shots and looked out and saw three men run­ning out of the house.


Af­ter wait­ing sev­er­al min­utes to see if it was safe, the rel­a­tive walked in­to the house and found a blood­ied Joseph breath­ing faint­ly on the liv­ing room floor.

A few feet away, Men­doza sat bleed­ing on a chair. 

San­ta Flo­ra po­lice and an am­bu­lance were con­tact­ed but rel­a­tives put Men­doza at the back of the van and took him to the Siparia Dis­trict Med­ical Fa­cil­i­ty where he was treat­ed and lat­er trans­ferred to the San Fer­nan­do Gen­er­al Hos­pi­tal.

Men­doza re­mained in a crit­i­cal con­di­tion with dam­age to his lungs up to yes­ter­day, while his chil­dren re­mained in the care of rel­a­tives.

The rel­a­tive sus­pects that Men­doza knew the men as his doors would usu­al­ly be locked. He said the dog would usu­al­ly bark at strangers but there was noth­ing to alert neigh­bours that some­thing was wrong un­til they heard gun­shots. How­ev­er, there seemed to be no signs of forced en­try.

While res­i­dents were shak­en by the killing, they were not sur­prised, al­lud­ing to sus­pi­cious ac­tiv­i­ties tak­ing place on the South Coast in­volv­ing fish­ing pirogues.

Of­fi­cers of the Homi­cide Bu­reau of In­ves­ti­ga­tions and the Crime Scene Unit­ed vis­it­ed the area, took state­ments and processed the scene but no one was held for the mur­der and shoot­ing.

The burnt-out car was tak­en to the San­ta Flo­ra Po­lice Sta­tion where of­fi­cers checked for clues. 

Reporter: Kevon Felmine

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