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Updated: Fri, 10 Jan 2014 00:16:04 GMT | By The Associated Press, cbc.ca

Monica Spear slaying: Stolen camera led to 7 arrests



FILE - In this May 31, 2005 file photo, Monica Spear, Miss Venezuela 2005, competes at the Miss Universe competition in Bangkok, Thailand. Venezuelan authorities say the soap-opera actress and former Miss Venezuela and her husband were shot and killed resisting a robbery after their car broke down. Prosecutors said in a statement that Monica Spear and Henry Thomas Berry were slain late Monday, Jan. 6, 2013 near Puerto Cabello, Venezuela�s main port. (© AP Pool/Rungroj Yongrit, Pool)

FILE - In this May 31, 2005 file photo, Monica Spear, Miss Venezuela 2005, competes at the Miss Universe competition in Bangkok, Thailand. Venezuelan authorities say the soap-opera actress and former Miss Venezuela and her husband were shot and killed resisting a robbery after their car broke down. Prosecutors said in a statement that Monica Spear and Henry Thomas Berry were slain late Monday, Jan. 6, 2013 near Puerto Cabello, Venezuela�s main port. (AP Pool/Rungroj Yongrit, Pool) Rungroj Yongrit/Associated Press

The discovery of a digital camera stolen from the popular actress Monica Spear and her ex-husband was key to identifying the seven people arrested in their fatal shooting, the chief of Venezuela's criminal police said Thursday.

Commissioner Jose Gregorio Sierralta told reporters that the camera was found during a search of the home of one of the people arrested for the killing of the pair on an isolated stretch of highway Monday night during a robbery.

Their deaths, witnessed by their five-year-old daughter after they had locked themselves in their car, triggered a national uproar over Venezuela's rampant violent crime.

​Sierralta said the camera led police to a criminal band that preyed on motorists on the section of highway near Puerto Cabello, the country's main port.

Spear, a former Miss Venezuela, and Thomas Henry Berry were returning to Caracas on vacation when a sharp object in the road punctured two of their car's tires.

Sierralta said the criminal band was led by a 32-year-old known as Fat Danilo, who was among those arrested. He said at least 11 people took part in the crime and four remained fugitives.

A 19-year-old man among the arrested may have been the lone shooter, the commissioner said. He said the weapon had not been recovered.

Sierralta said the ringleader supplied younger men in the gang with guns and drugs. He did not specify which drugs.

He said five people originally arrested as suspects in the crime had been released, adding that the crew of a tow truck that had arrived to help out the stranded motorists helped lead police to the people arrested.

The slain couples' families held a private wake Thursday in Caracas and said they would later open the viewing to public admirers of the 29-year-old actress, who was crowned Miss Venezuela in 2004.

Spear and Berry were to be buried Friday.

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