Image: Mesac Damas
Ramon Espinosa  /  AP
Mesac Damas is escorted by police after his arrest in Port-au-Prince on Monday. Damas, who was detained for the Florida slaying of his wife and their five children, said that he returned to his native Caribbean nation "to say goodbye to my family."
updated 9/22/2009 1:07:20 PM ET 2009-09-22T17:07:20

A man has been charged with six counts of first-degree murder in the slayings of his wife and five children, authorities said Tuesday.

The Collier County Sheriff's Office said Mesac Damas has been ordered held without bond upon his return from Haiti, where he is being detained. Florida investigators obtained a warrant for his arrest on the murder charges and were traveling to the Caribbean nation on Tuesday to interview him.

The 33-year-old boarded a flight from Miami International Airport to Haiti on Friday. The following evening, deputies found wife Guerline Damas and their five children slain in a town house in the Florida city of Naples.

In an interview at the police station where he was being held in Port-au-Prince, Mesac Damas told The Associated Press that he had planned to surrender and that he returned to Haiti to say goodbye to his family. The sheriff's office says its information does not support that statement. Damas did not respond when asked if he killed his wife.

Collier County has asked Haitian authorities to extradite him. Because he is a U.S. citizen, they can either follow the normal extradition process or deport him.

The family was discovered Saturday after a relative filed a missing persons report. The sheriff's office has not said how Guerline Damas and her children were killed, but a relative said detectives told the family their throats had been slit.

Troubled relations
Authorities have said there was a history of domestic abuse between Guerline and Mesac Damas, who had been married for two years and together for 10. Mesac Damas was charged with misdemeanor battery in January after he struck Guerline Damas, 32, while she held their youngest child, a baby girl, in her arms.

He pleaded no contest and was given 12 months probation and ordered to attend parenting classes and a battery intervention program. The state Department of Children and Families had been monitoring the family and visited their home just three days before the killings. The caseworker found nothing amiss.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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