Monica Spear's daughter Maya doesn't know parents are dead
- Thomas Berry and Monica Spear Mootz were stranded after car broke down
- Couple killed in front of five-year-old daughter Maya, who was shot in leg
- She is being cared for by her grandparents, unaware that her parents are dead
- Gang known as 'The Quick Ones', including 'Little Adolfo' among those being questioned
- Police fear they fell into trap by gang who deliberately incapacitated car with holes in road or missing drain covers
- People gather in Caracas to protest death of former Miss Venezuela
- Further protests and funeral to be held on Friday
By Gerard Couzens and Alasdair Baverstock and Paul Thompson In Orlando, Florida
PUBLISHED: 13:41 EST, 8 January 2014 | UPDATED: 20:08 EST, 8 January 2014
The five-year-old daughter of British expat Thomas Berry and his ex-wife, former Miss Venezuela Monica Spear Mootz, is unaware that they have been murdered, it emerged today.
Mr Berry, 39, and his 29-year-old wife, who was Miss Venezuela 2004 and is an American citizen, were gunned down by thieves after their car broke down on the Puerto-Cabello to Valencia highway at about 10pm on Monday.
Police had said that the pair were shot in front of Maya - who was also hit in the leg - as their car was being loaded onto a tow truck they had stopped after puncturing a tyre on the motorway between Puerto Cabello and Venezuela's third largest city Valencia.
But in an interview today, Ms Spear's brother Ricardo claimed the girl was not yet aware of her parents' fate.
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Mr Berry, left, and Ms Spears, right, with their daughter Maya, 5. She was injured in the attack and is now in the care of the authorities
Loving: The couple married in 2008, had recently divorced, but had holidayed together for the sake of Maya
Horrific: Robbers shot through the car windscreen when the terrified family locked themselves in
Nightmare: A friend of Berry said he had spoken to him on Sunday and was told they were having a great time
'Maya isn't yet aware that her parents have been murdered', he told NTV24.
'It's a terrible tragedy what has happened to her and as long as we can give her time to recover we will be there for her.'
'She's taken a bullet to her leg and is injured. She's in a private clinic in Caracas and is safe with her grandparents.'
Meanwhile, a violent gang known as ‘The Quick Ones’ are being investigated for the couple's brutal murder.
One of its members, called Adolfito – or little Adolfo – was captured by neighbours and handed over to police on suspicion of shooting dead the couple, according to authorities. 'El Adolfito' is said to have been arrested by police on at least nine occasions.
Two other suspects aged just 15 and 16 are also being held. Police made a total of five arrests.
Rafael Lacava, mayor of the town of Puerto Cabello near to the scene of Monday night's horror shooting, revealed the gang of six - called 'Los Rapiditos' in Spanish - also include two women.
They have been questioned by local police and now face further scrutiny from murder squad detectives and state prosecutors.
'El Adolfito' is said to have been arrested by police on at least nine occasions.
Police believe the couple may have fallen victim to a trap after a recent spate of robberies where grates have been taken off drains or holes dug into roads to force cars off the road.
People gather in a demonstration in Caracas, the Venezuelan capital, to protest over the death of Monica Spear
A fan of Monica Spear wipes away tears while taking part in the Caracas demonstration on Wednesday. Crowds gathered to protest the violence that has gripped the country
Monica Spear posted a video on Instagram of her horse riding just hours before she died
Monica was pictured with a child, believed to be her daughter Maya, a few days before they were attacked
A still from a short film showing the actress riding before she blew a kiss to the camera on the day she died
Violent Venezuela: 24,000 murders a year - a rate that has tripled in decade
Police believe the couple may have been targeted by bandits who put obstacles in the road to force victims to stop.
The ploy is commonly used on the country's highways after dark.
Venezuela is one the most violent places in Latin America and armed robberies, carjackings and kidnappings are rife.
The annual murder rate in Caracas alone is an average of 80 murders per 100,000 people, the third highest in the world.
murders occur in the slums where police presence is minimal. Eastern
Caracas is home to South America’s largest slum, named Petare with more
than two million residents, where the police to public ratio is 1
officer to every 3,000 people.
There were an estimated 24,000 murders in 2013, one of the world’s highest homicide rates. It has tripled in the previous decade.
Gun ownership is also high, with an estimated 15 million unlicensed weapons in circulation.
Police have confirmed the pair were shot in front of Maya as their car was being loaded onto a tow truck they had stopped after puncturing a tyre on the motorway between Puerto Cabello and Venezuela's third largest city Valencia.
Police chief Jose Gregorio Sierralta said they were killed after locking themselves inside their Toyota Corolla to stop their attackers stealing their car as the tow truck driver and an assistant ran to a police checkpoint a mile away for help.
‘Unfortunately as the car was on the upper part of the tow truck several individuals surprised them and shot them inside the vehicle after seeing they had locked themselves inside,’ Mr Sierralta said.
Relatives from both victims' families arrived in Venezuela today for their funerals, due to take place on Friday.
Maya meanwhile was being comforted by Monica's family and her British-born paternal grandparents Tom and Kate, at a hospital in the Venezuelan capital.
Mr Berry’s sister Katie, who lives in Edinburgh, was expected to join her retired university maths professor dad and mum today.
She and her brother moved to Venezuela as young children but she returned to Britain to find work with her Venezuelan husband.
Mr Berry, 39, a travel firm boss, also used to return regularly to Britain to see family and friends.
Ms Spears' parents live in Orlando, Florida, and the actress lived with them while she studied at the University of Central Florida.
Ms Spear’s aunt Mariela Mootz described her niece - voted Miss Venezuela in 2004 - as a ‘sweet young girl’.
‘She was so sweet, just like you see her in the photos,’ she said.
‘She was as beautiful a person on the inside as she was on the outside.
‘She was very loving and dreamed of triumphing in French cinema after spending time in France where she learnt the language.
‘There was no need for what happened. There's no respect for life anymore.’
Thomas Berry and Monica Spear Mootz on their wedding day in June 2008. They were murdered by gunmen in front of their daughter
Police tape cordons off the couple's car, which had ground to a halt after the tires were punctured
Happy: Despite separating Thomas Berry and Monica Spear holidayed together for their daughter's sake
Monica Spear was visiting Venezuela so her daughter could learn about the country
Mr Berry, who described himself as an independent travel consultant in an online profile, lived in the capital Caracas, according to El Universal.
He moved to Florida for a short time after he was shot 15 years ago in a robbery that killed his friend.
It is understood Mr Berry and his wife had separated last year, but were still close friends and holidayed together for the sake of their daughter.
Ms Spear’s father, Rafael, told the Orlando Sentinel: 'It is the deepest pain, the deepest pain. It is unbelievable.
‘She was very charismatic, a very good daughter, a very good mother, and she loved Venezuela.'
Ms Spear was a famous TV actress following her 2004 pageant victory and appeared in a number of TV soap operas
He recalled how his daughter had come to him for advice when she wanted to change from her chemical engineering course to study acting instead.
'I told her she had to decide what she wanted to do to be happy for the rest of her life,' he said. 'When my children were young, I wouldn't let them watch telenovelas, and then she began acting in soap operas, and I began watching all of hers.'
Luis Dominguez, Mr Berry’s business partner in the Arekay Tours adventure travel agency, said: ‘He had so much happiness that his loss makes me feel empty.
‘For this to happen to him is a great loss not only to his family and friends but to Venezuela as a whole.
‘He gave an enormous amount to this country and knew more about it than most Venezuelans.’
Ms Spear's family had asked her to move to the U.S. with them after she was robbed six times, but the model refused.
Her brother, Ricardo Spear Mootz, said: 'She loved her country too much. It was her home.'
Beauty: Monica Spear Mootz represented Venezuela in the 54th annual Miss Universe competition
Ms Spear with Maya, who was born in October 2008. The little girl was shot in the leg during the attack
During the 2005 Miss Universe contest Spear visited the Temple of the Emerald Buddha in Bangkok
Family friend Marytza Sanz said Miss Spear loved Venezuela and even though she could have remained in the U.S. she chose to return so her daughter could spend time there.
The network Miss Spear worked for released a statement describing her as a 'great actress' who had 'extraordinary drive and determination'.
Venezuela's public prosecutor has appointed two separate investigators to the case, while the CICPC, Venezuela's SWAT police force unit, has been deployed to nearby slums for answers.
Nicolas Maduro, the Venezuelan President, meanwhile vowed to respond to the violence gripping the country with ‘an iron fist’.
'There will be no tolerance to those who carry out acts like that, killing decent men and women, who have a right to live,' he said.
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