Former Miss Venezuela, UCF grad Monica Spear, slain in robbery

Monica Spear, husband shot, killed during vacation

By By AP News Now

CARACAS, Venezuela - Venezuelan police are questioning five people after the murder of a former Miss Venezuela.

The University of Central Florida graduate was shot and killed during an attempted robbery, according to officials.

Prosecutors said in a statement that Monica Spear, 29, and Henry Thomas Berry, 49, were slain late Monday night near Puerto Cabello, Venezuela's main port, after their car broke down. Local news reports said they were awaiting a tow truck while vacationing in Venezuela when they were slain.

"I'm very, very sad. I have the deepest pain that I've ever had," said her father, Raphael Spear, from his home in Orlando.

The woman's family only learned of her death after watching international television news reports, and have since been gathering information about the attack from news reports.

The couple's 5-year-old daughter was in stable condition after getting medical attention for a bullet wound to her leg, said Spear. He said the Venezuelan government chartered a private jet to fly the Spear family from Orlando to Caracas to see their granddaughter. The family still has not been able to talk to the child, but they're hoping to get custody of her and bring her to the United States.

Spear graduated from UCF in 2004 with a theater degree. The popular actress had been living in the South American nation since winning Miss Venezuela in 2004 and had acted in numerous soap operas for the U.S.-based Telemundo network.

Her father said he always worried about her safety while living abroad, but he hopes her death can help curb the violence in the violent country.

"She was expecting that nothing like this would touch her, even though she was robbed five times while she was there," said Spear. "That country has to change. The violence there is amazing."

Venezuela has one of the world's highest murder rates. Violent crime is so acute that people tend to stay home after dark.

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