Ex-convict David Martin Benjamin is currently in custody and being questioned for the brutal rape and killing of an American tourist on a deserted beach in Grenada. Local news is reporting that the attacker strangled, then repeatedly stabbed the 39-year-old woman using a cutlass, a short, machete-like sword.
As reported by NBC News, the Royal Grenada Police Force has identified the woman as Jessica Colker. The attack happened Sunday on a remote beach in the small town of St. David while the victim was walking with her husband, Brian Melito.
Melito was nearby when the assault occurred, but managed to escape without injury and get help. When he returned, his wife’s body was lifeless and hidden among the mangroves near the shore.
David Martin Benjamin, an ex-convict who was just recently released from prison for child rape, turned himself in the day after Colker was murdered. He is currently being held by local St. George police.
“What I can tell you now is that he is in custody. He was not captured, but he turned himself in and our investigations will continue, as we believe he can assist us with our investigation into the incident,” said Grenada Police spokesman Sylvan McIntyre.
Investigators are still trying to determine a motive behind the attack.
The State Department has confirmed Colker’s death and that the couple were visiting the Caribbean island from Atlanta, Georgia. “The embassy is working closely with officials investigating Ms. Colker’s death,” the U.S. Embassy to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean said in a statement.
No other details were provided. However, various sources indicate Colker worked at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta as a licensed physician’s assistant to an anesthesiologist.
Friends and co-workers were shocked and extremely saddened when they heard the news. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to her family during this difficult time,” the hospital said in a statement.
While the couple were staying at the luxury beach resort La Sagesse, other travelers mentioned there was a nearby beach described as “totally deserted.” Colker and her 62-year-old husband had just arrived on the island earlier that day.
Witnesses believe the stabbing was something more than a robbery. Once police arrived, along with armed soldiers, the area was sealed off as they began searching the beach.
Sue Hardy, who was visiting from the U.K., was on the beach when police arrived. This is her family’s sixth trip to Grenada and is quite familiar with the isolated beach where the couple were walking.
“After walking for half a mile round the bay, where you are still in sight from the hotel and restaurant and the main area where tourists sit out in the sun, you can go up a path which leads through a sort of mangrove swamp, with steps so you don’t walk into the mud. After about 100 yards through this somewhat dark, swampy area, you come out on to another beach which is totally deserted.”
Hardy said she has walked along that stretch of beach before, but won’t be doing it again. “No one can see you there, but of course nobody can see if anyone attacks you there,” she said.
As reported previously by the Inquisitr, Linnea Veinotte was killed while on vacation in Grenada with her husband and two sons. Ms. Veinotte went missing one morning during a jog on the beach. Her body was found a week later, partially decomposed in a makeshift grave.
With beautiful beaches and a community friendly to tourists, Grenada is a top vacation spot, especially among American and British visitors. While it is well-known as one of the safest Caribbean islands, Sunday’s incident is a reminder to travelers to stay vigilant despite the false sense of security inspired by the sunshine, sparkling sea, and sand.
Ex-convict David Martin Benjamin, who has three teardrops tattooed under his left eye, which signifies he has killed or is willing to kill, just got out of prison in December. Although he has confessed to killing Jessica Colker, the police have yet to officially charge him with the crime.
[Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images]