News World

Cops hold tongue in Matus murder

By Brad Hunter, Toronto Sun

Francesca Matus was big-hearted, attractive and smart.

At 52, the world appeared to be the Keswick real estate investor’s oyster.

But in a lonely sugar cane field in Belize, her life came to a brutal end that was horrifying in its cold and calculating manner.

Matus and her American boyfriend, former U.S. Marine Drew Devoursney were found strangled to death on April 30.

Nearly six months later, the investigation is in shambles: No arrests, no suspects, missing police paperwork and a climate of terror in tiny Corozal.

And the cops aren’t saying a thing.

In an exclusive interview with the Toronto Sun, Matus’ family say police won’t accept — or return — their phone calls, and offer only a shrug on who was behind the slayings that carried all the earmarks of a professional hit.

But with a sickeningly personal touch.

“We’re totally in the dark. That’s the issue,” the family member — who asked not to be identified — told the Sun. “No one gets back to you. Our feeling is that the cops know who did this, a lot of people do, but they’re afraid.”

Hovering in the background of the tragedy has been an American developer who has allegedly run roughshod over locals, the ex-pat community in Corozal and the cops.

Yet, the family member said Francesca had no dealings with the man as far as he knows.

And even if she did, the Matus family wouldn’t know because authorities in the violent Central American country are dawdling at handing over the mother of two’s financial records.

“Everything is speculation. We definitely know robbery was not the motive, but what the reasons were, we don’t know,” the relative said.

“Francesca didn’t have an enemy in the world.”

The murders occurred just eight hours before the fun-loving Matus was slated to fly home to Toronto. In her posh beach house were her keys, passport, money and luggage.

“She didn’t have any business in Belize that we know of. She’d go down there just to chill out and not much else,” the relative added.

The Matus family source said they were in constant contact with Francesca. And if there had been anything wrong or untoward, she would have told them.

In addition, the family scoffs at any notion that her tenant, Barrie-native John Deshaies was involved.

But Deshaies did have issues with the elderly American mogul, who cracked a beer bottle over his head at local ex-pat boozer, Scotty’s Crocodile Cove.

Charges were supposed to be laid but two sources told the Sun the paperwork has miraculously vanished in a “the dog ate my homework” scenario.

The shattered family says their last contact with Belize cops was Aug. 21.

“It was the typical runaround,” he said.

In the end, money trumps nearly everything in Belize, the relative added.

“People can be bought very easily down there. They’ll do anything for money,” the relative said, adding that the conviction rate in Belize is a paltry 3%.

As for Francesca Matus’ financial dealings, York Regional Police sorted her Canadian matters for the family in three hours.

In Belize, it’s almost seven months — and counting.

“Francesca didn’t have any beefs with anyone. That’s what makes it so tough,” the relative said. “People there (the population is just 9,000) know what happened, but they’re terrified to talk.”

He added: “But the same name keeps coming up.”

bhunter@postmedia.com