An 80-year-old U.S. evangelical missionary was beaten to death in his home in western Honduras by two men he had hired to do construction work, police said Thursday.
The missionary, identified by authorities as Ralph Madisson, was found unconscious late Wednesday on the floor of his home in the village of San Juan, said police spokesman Nelson Zambrano.
He was airlifted in a U.S. Air Force helicopter to a hospital in the capital, Tegucigalpa, where he died.
The suspects, whose names were not released, were arrested and interrogated, Zambrano said. They recently were deported from the U.S. after migrating there illegally.
Madisson had reported the two men to police, alleging they stole tools and construction materials from his home, which the pastor was remodeling, Zambrano said.
Madisson lived alone and had resided in San Juan for six years.
Based on information from his passport, authorities said he was from San Francisco. They did not say for whom he was working.
'We're deadlocked by incapability'
His murder comes at a time when Honduras is being criticized by the local media and human rights groups such as Amnesty International for its failure to stop a wave of violence that has all but paralyzed the country.
At least 100 murders remain unsolved. Victims during the past two years include journalists, lawyers, environmentalists, judges, politicians, citizens and business owners, as well as 53 prison inmates.
Most of the crimes are attributed to the Mara Salvatrucha and the Mara 18 street gangs, whose members have terrorized the country for 10 years as hit men and traffickers of drugs, weapons and people.
Honduran Supreme Court President Vilma Morales on Thursday called law enforcement authorities “incapable” and called for the resignation of security minister and attorney general.
“We’re deadlocked by incapability,” Morales told a local radio station.
She added that Honduran judges are quitting in large numbers because of death threats from organized crime groups. One such judge was killed Tuesday in the northern city of San Pedro Sula, she noted.