Cops: Son Caught on Tape Removing Mom's Body | NBC 6 South Florida

Cops: Son Caught on Tape Removing Mom's Body

Affidavit: suspect was worried about security cameras



    The latest on the case of Natalie Belmonte. (Published Thursday, July 21, 2011)

    Authorities say they believe the adopted son charged with the murder of his mother was caught on a neighbor's security video getting rid of her body the night she disappeared from her Pembroke Pines home.

    Gerard Lopes, 21, was in a Broward courtroom Thursday, where he was ordered held without bond in the murder of 43-year-old Natalie Belmonte.

    Adopted Son Arrested in Pines Woman's Murder

    [MI] Adopted Son Arrested in Pines Woman's Murder
    Gerard Lopes, 21, who also goes by the last name Belmonte, will be charged with first-degree murder in the death of Natalie Belmonte. (Published Thursday, July 21, 2011)

    According to an arrest affidavit, Lopes knew about the security camera and repeatedly inquired about what, if anything, had been captured early Sunday morning, when Belmonte was last seen.

    "A neighbor claims that you came over to the neighbor's house several times asking about a security camera, whether or not a security camera had picked up any evidence of what had happened to your mother," said Judge John Hurley, reading the affidavit in court. "The neighbor claims you came over four times, the neighbor said they were very suspicious of you."

    Belmonte 911 Call

    [NATL] Belmonte 911 Call
    The audio of the 911 call on Sunday in the disappearance of Natalie Belmonte. (Published Thursday, July 21, 2011)

    According to the affidavit, Lopes called police around 7 p.m. Sunday to report that Belmonte was missing. He told police that the two had returned from a party around 2:30 a.m., that he was drunk and had slept in until 11 a.m., when he realized she wasn't home, according to the affidavit.

    Lopes also allegedly told officers that he never left the house throughout the night, but when police reviewed the security footage, they said it showed something else entirely.

    "The police reviewed it and even though you had said you had not left your allegedly shows you or someone who looks like you at 2:49 in the morning, it shows that a vehicle arrived at the home, a red Lexus arrived at the home, and two people got out, went into the house," Hurley said. "However, at 5 o'clock in the morning it shows that someone exits the residence and the driver repositions the vehicle by backing it up at the garage at an angle toward the front door and then reenters the residence."

    That's when Lopes allegedly loads up Belmonte's body, the affidavit said.
    "A few minutes later, at 5:12, it says that the same subject reappears at the front door and appears to be dragging a large object to the rear of the vehicle and struggles to place the object into the trunk of the vehicle and then reenters the residence several times," Hurley said. "The police said that the object that they saw the subject carrying to the back of the vehicle was consistent in size with that of an adult human being."

    The affidavit said the person in the video was seen carrying garbage bags out of the house before leaving in the car for about eight minutes.

    When Belmonte's sister came to the home, the affidavit says she saw blood smears in the master bedroom. Police also found blood in the home, it said.

    "Police found blood in the residence consistent with a violent struggle where a serious injury had occurred and it appears that someone had used cleaning products to conceal blood evidence," Hurley said.

    When police brought in a cadaver dog, it was alerted to the trunk of the car and front door of the home.

    Police spent three days searching for Belmonte near her home in the 19300 block of Northwest 5th Street.  They found a body Wednesday morning and on Thursday authorities announced that it had been positively identified as Belmonte.

    "There was a body located in a wooded area, that body was identified as the victim, Natalie Belmonte, she was found to have blunt force trauma to her head," Hurley said.

    On Monday, police found items in garbage bags in a dumpster behind a Publix related to the case. According to the affidavit, the items included clothing, towels, bedding and pillows similar to those in Belmonte's bedroom covered in blood.

    Police say the items included men's clothing consistent with the clothing wore by the man in the security video. A preliminary DNA test found the blood was Belmonte's, the affidavit said.

    On Thursday, friend and neighbor Lindon Ramsey said he knew Lopes for years

    “There was always something going on with him. Always somerthing a mystery. You never really knew what he was thinking, and it was kind of bothersome, which is why I had to break off my relationship with him, why I couldn’t be his friend," Ramsey said. "I am shocked, but I am not surprised."