World

Miss Venezuela Murder: Father Vows To Bring Surviving Granddaughter To U.S.

  • Family members of the late Monica Spear, a popular soap-opera actress and former Miss Venezuela (pictured top right), from left to right, Javier Spear, brother, Edna Mootz, mother, Rafael Spear, father, arrive at the East cemetery chapel for a closed memorial service in Caracas, Venezuela, Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014. (AP Photo/Alejandro Cegarra)

    Family members of the late Monica Spear, a popular soap-opera actress and former Miss Venezuela (pictured top right), from left to right, Javier Spear, brother, Edna Mootz, mother, Rafael Spear, father, arrive at the East cemetery chapel for a closed memorial service in Caracas, Venezuela, Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014. (AP Photo/Alejandro Cegarra)

  • The couple was divorced, but remained close because of their 5-year-old daughter

    The couple was divorced, but remained close because of their 5-year-old daughter  (Thomas Henry Berry/via Facebook)

  • Monica Spear competes at the Miss Universe pageant in Bangkok, Thailand, in May 2005.

    Monica Spear competes at the Miss Universe pageant in Bangkok, Thailand, in May 2005.  (AP2005)

The father of murdered former Miss Venezuela Monica Spear vows to fight for the custody of his five year old granddaughter and bring her to the U.S., after she witnessed the murder of both her parents in a botched robbery Monday that has enraged Venezuela, according to a report by the MailOnline.

"It’s my aim to get Maya out of the country," Spear's father, Rafael Spear, said to the publication Thursday. "Maya is my priority now and I need the Venezuelan government to help me obtain her guardianship."

Rafael Spear, 61, lives in Orlando, Florida. He is an American citizen and so was his slain daughter Monica. The custody battle for little Maya could get complicated considering the anti-U.S. Venezuelan government maybe more adept to grant custody of Maya to her paternal grandparents who live in Caracas as opposed to the Spears immediate family which live in the U.S..

The vow for custody comes amid news that the discovery of a digital camera stolen from the murder site was key to identifying the seven people arrested in the fatal shooting of Spear and her ex-husband, Thomas Henry Berry.

Their deaths, witnessed by their 5-year-old daughter, Maya, after they had locked themselves in their car, triggered a national uproar over Venezuela's rampant violent crime. Spear, 29, and Berry, 39, were returning to Caracas on vacation when a sharp object in the road punctured two of their car's tires.

Commissioner Jose Gregorio Sierralta told reporters Thursday that the camera was found during a search of the home of one of the people arrested for the killing of the pair on an isolated stretch of highway Monday night during a robbery.

Sierralta said the camera led police to a criminal band that preyed on motorists on the section of highway near Puerto Cabello, the country's main port.

Sierralta said the criminal band was led by a 32-year-old known as "Fat Danilo," who was among those arrested. He said at least 11 people took part in the crime and four remained fugitives.

Police are conducting raids in the central and western part of the country to attempt to capture these four people.

"Up to now, the investigation shows that these other four individuals undertook the act with the aim of committing robbery," he said.

The seven people arrested on Wednesday - four men, a woman and two teenagers - were due to be arraigned in connection with the deaths of Spear, 29, and her husband Thomas Henry Berry, 39. Four of the seven "actively" participated in the assault, Rodriguez said.

"Two of them got items obtained during the robbery, which shows that the motive for the incident was robbery," he said.

A 19-year-old man among the arrested may have been the lone shooter, the commissioner said. He said the weapon had not been recovered.

Sierralta said the ringleader supplied younger men in the gang with guns and drugs. He did not specify which drugs.

He said five people originally arrested as suspects in the crime had been released, adding that the crew of a tow truck that had arrived to help out the stranded motorists helped lead police to the people arrested.

The slain couples' families held a private wake Thursday in Caracas and said they would later open the viewing to public admirers of the 29-year-old actress, who was crowned Miss Venezuela in 2004.

Spear and Berry were to be buried Friday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.