CARACAS, Venezuela – Assailants shot and killed a popular soap opera actress and former Miss Venezuela and her Irish ex-husband in the presence of their 5-year-old daughter when they resisted a robbery, authorities said Tuesday.
Monica Spear, 29, and Henry Thomas Berry, 39, were slain late Monday night on a roadside near Puerto Cabello, Venezuela's main port, after their car broke down, the prosecutor's office said in a statement. Puerto Cabello is located in Carabobo State, about 210 km west of Caracas
The prosecutor's statement said their daughter was in stable condition after getting medical attention for unspecified injuries. Local media reports said the couple had a good relationship despite being divorced and were awaiting a tow truck when attacked.
Venezuela has one of the world's highest murder rates and violent crime is so rampant that Venezuelans tend to stay home after dark. Spear's death triggered a wave of anger on social media directed at the populist government's poor record on crime.
According to the nonprofit Venezuelan Observatory of Violence, the oil-rich South American country's murder rate was 79 per 100,000 inhabitants last year.
Spear, born in 1984 in Maracaibo, was crowned Miss Venezuela in 2004 and the next year participated in the Miss Universe pageant in Thailand, where she came in fourth. She had acted in numerous soap operas for the U.S.-based Telemundo network, most recently "Pasión Prohibida."
She split her time between Venezuela and the United States and was on vacation when slain.
Spear had more than 355,000 followers on Twitter and her feed over the last week included brief videos sent on the popular Instagram service of vacation scenes.
In one video, posted two days ago and described as being taken on the plains of Apure state, Spear looks at the camera while riding a horse, turns away and then looks back, blowing a kiss.
Based on reporting by The Associated Press.