Briton’s family hope for answers in Dominican Republic murder trial

Lindsay de Feliz was found dead near her home two years ago; her husband and three other men deny murder

The family of a British author who was found dead close to her home in the Dominican Republic are hoping that a long-awaited trial will finally bring them answers.

The body of Lindsay de Feliz, 64, was found in a shallow grave in the north-west of the country more than two years ago.

Her husband of 14 years, Danilo Feliz Torres, his two sons and a fourth man are to stand trial accused of her murder. All have pleaded not guilty. Proceedings are set to begin on 16 February after many delays.

Speaking publicly for the first time, de Feliz’s family told the Guardian it would be a key moment in their search for justice. “Once the trial is over we will be able to start to grieve for Lindsay,” said her 60-year-old brother Patrick Firth.

Her family in the UK – her mother, Shirley Firth, who is a few months away from her ninetieth birthday, and her three siblings – are grief-stricken by her death. Her mother misses their nightly conversations on Skype “where we put the world to rights”.

De Feliz led a successful life in the UK, working as a marketing manager for various firms in the City. She longed for something different and in 2002 decided to leave her husband, job and life in the UK to follow her passion for scuba diving.

After spending some time in the Maldives she settled in the Dominican Republic where she worked as a scuba-diving instructor and married a local man in 2005.

Her family said she supported him financially to help him train as a lawyer and in an unsuccessful campaign to be elected as mayor.

After she was shot in the throat during a robbery in 2006, de Feliz could no longer work as a diving instructor. She began writing blogs about her life in the Dominican Republic and published two memoirs – What About Your Saucepans? and Life After My Saucepans.

The titles were references to a comment by her mother who had bought her a set of saucepans for Christmas that de Feliz did not take with her to the Dominican Republic. Her first book reached number one in the Amazon Kindle travel books chart.

She adored her adopted country and the Dominican people. According to her mother, de Feliz would leave the UK after visits home for Christmas with suitcases bulging with over-the-counter medicines such as aspirin and paracetamol and plasters that she distributed to people living in poverty who were unable to access these basics.

Her family say de Feliz was highly regarded in her adopted home and after her death there were 92 pages of tributes to her on the expat website DR1.

“She was an amazing person,” Shirley Firth said. “She could go into a room and start talking to anyone. She made some dramatic changes in her life and even after she was shot in 2006 and could no longer work as a scuba-diving instructor she took it all in her stride.

“A foundation has been set up in her memory to help disadvantaged women and children in the Dominican Republic. Royalties from her books are still coming in and we would like to give that money to a cause that Lindsay cared about.”

Firth smiled at the memory of her daughter’s love of parsnips, which she tried and failed to grow in the Dominican Republic. She said that sometimes friends visiting from the UK would try to smuggle parsnips through customs for her.

“We just have to keep going. We can’t have closure until this whole thing is finished,” she said. “We hope for some resolution and to see justice done.”

Diana Fawcett, Chief Executive of the charity Victim Support, who are supporting the Firth family through the trial said: “Having to go through a trial in another country and in a different language makes what is already an agonising process all the more unbearable.

“We are particularly aware of how hard this has been for the Firth family and all those who loved and treasured Lindsay, here in the UK and in the Dominican Republic.”


Diane Taylor

The GuardianTramp

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