Cops: Ex-Con Charged With Murder of American Woman Vacationing With Husband in Grenada
An ex-convict who was recently released from prison has been charged with the murder of a Georgia woman who was raped and killed while on vacation with her husband in Grenada, officials said Wednesday.
Jessica Colker, 39, and her husband, Brian Melito, were allegedly attacked about 12 p.m. Sunday as they walked on the beach, the Royal Grenada Police Force said.
They had arrived one day earlier for their vacation on the Caribbean island, police said.
Melito, 62, managed to escape the assault and reported the incident to authorities, who began searching for his wife, officials said.
"They were held against their will and the wife was taken away," a statement from the police on the incident said.
Colker was found dead on Le-Cheasere beach in St. David after the suspect fled.
An autopsy report revealed Colker’s cause of death to be asphyxia and an extensive skull fracture, officials said. Evidence also suggested Colker had been sexually assaulted.
“From the evidence provided we believe that she was sexually assaulted, that she was rape(d),” Acting Royal Grenada Police Force Commissioner Winston James told reporters on Wednesday.
No weapon appeared to have been used during the attack, authorities said.
David Michael Benjamin turned himself in to police on Monday, but authorities say he did not confess to the crime as some news outlets previously reported.
He became the police’s “chief suspect” after witnesses placed him on the beach “begging persons… for money,” James told reporters.
Benjamin made his first appearance in court on Wednesday and was charged with capital murder.
He was remanded to prison without bond, officials said. He did not have an attorney in court and did not issue a plea.
A police source told INSIDE EDITION Benjamin had recently served time in prison for rape. He had been released on Nov. 29.
A motive in the attack has not yet been released.
Loved ones were stunned by the brutal murder of Colker, who noted on her LinkedIn profile that she worked as a pediatric anesthetist at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.
“She was one of the kindest, most patient people I've ever met. Pray for her husband, family, coworkers and everyone who was touched by her,” one friend wrote on Facebook.
Colker and her husband were married in November 2014 after meeting at a dance workshop in Costa Rica, she wrote on a website dedicated to their wedding.
“We had a smoothie together on the second day of the workshop and spent the rest of the week dancing, talking, surfing, eating great food, swimming in the ocean under the stars, and generally falling in love,” she wrote.
Benjamin had reportedly been living with his father after being released from prison. His next appearance in court will be on Friday, officials said.
Colker is the second tourist to have been murdered in Grenada in a little over a month.
Canadian traveler Linnea Veinotte was allegedly killed and buried after she was last seen on Dec. 6 jogging with her dog, according to reports.
Police eventually found Veinotte’s dog, who was bleeding and appeared to have been hit by a car, but there was no trace of the mother of two. The woman’s body was found days later in a makeshift grave.
Akim Frank, 26, was charged with non-capital murder, which implies the killing was not intentional, in her death after he turned himself in, the Toronto Sun reported. Frank has not entered a plea yet.
Police have not indicated a motive in that killing.