by Monte Sahlin
By AT News Team, July 28, 2014
Friday morning Stephen Michaels Jr., a 28-year-old teacher at the Ephesus Seventh-day Adventist School in Belize City, was found dead in his bed at home by neighbors. He was bleeding from the mouth and nose and the front door to his house was ajar, reported Channel 7 television news. His father, who lives next door, told television Channel 5 reporters that several items had been stolen; the teacher’s laptop, wallet and cell phone.
Initially Senior Police Superintendent Alford Grinage, from the city police, stated that “there were no signs of violence on the body” and the police did no consider it a murder. Later this week the official report was changed after an autopsy was completed reported Channel 7.
This is the third killing of an Adventist in this small, central American country in recent months. A week earlier on July 18, a 27-year-old lay preacher and ministerial student, also a member of Ephesus Church, was found dead on the church property early in the morning by the night watchman. He had four stab wounds to the upper chest and back, according to Channel 7 television news.
In late June police announced a breakthrough in the murder of Brian Townsend, a lay missionary from Canada, who was killed after evidently being kidnapped in December. Two of three men that police had charged with the crime were found dead and the third man had been picked up on a different charge.
“Yesterday we got new information in the form of statements,” said Police Superintendent Howell Gillett on June 24. “We are hopeful” that the public prosecutor will use the statements to charge the suspect.
Sources told Adventist Today that there is no evidence that there is any relationship between these three killings. “Adventists are not being persecuted. This is due to the level of crime in the country.”
Adventist Today has previously reported on the disappearance and death of Townsend. He was in Belize directing a project for an independent ministry based in North America.