The adopted son of Natalie Belmonte has been charged with her murder and authorities say a neighbour’s security video captured him getting rid of her body the night she disappeared from her Pembroke Pines home.
According to NBC News, Gerard Lopes, 21, also called Gerard Belmonte appeared in a Broward courtroom today and was ordered held without bond in the murder of 43-year-old Natalie Belmonte.
According to the arrest affidavit, Lopes knew about the security camera and repeatedly inquired about what, if anything, had been captured early Sunday morning, when Belmonte was last seen.
“A neighbour claims that you came over to the neighbour’s house several times asking about a security camera, whether or not a security camera had picked up any evidence of what had happened to your mother,” said Judge John Hurley, reading the affidavit in court, NBC reported. “The neighbour claims you came over four times, the neighbour said they were very suspicious of you.”
According to the affidavit, Lopes called police around 7 pm on Sunday to report that Belmonte was missing. He told police that the two had returned from a party around 2.30 am, that he was drunk and had slept in until 11 am, when he realized she wasn’t home, according to the affidavit.
NBC said Lopes also allegedly told officers that he never left the house, but when police reviewed the security footage, they said it showed something else entirely.
“The police reviewed it and even though you had said you had not left your house… it allegedly shows you or someone who looks like you at 2.49 in the morning, it shows that a vehicle arrived at the home, a red Lexus arrived at the home, and two people got out, went into the house,” Justice Hurley said. “However, at 5 o’clock in the morning it shows that someone exits the residence and the driver repositions the vehicle by backing it up at the garage at an angle toward the front door and then re-enters the residence.”
That’s when Lopes allegedly loads up Belmonte’s body, the affidavit said, according to NBC.
“A few minutes later, at 5:12, it says that the same subject reappears at the front door and appears to be dragging a large object to the rear of the vehicle and struggles to place the object into the trunk of the vehicle and then re-enters the residence several times,” Justice Hurley said. “The police said that the object that they saw the subject carrying to the back of the vehicle was consistent in size with that of an adult human being.”
The affidavit said the person in the video was seen carrying garbage bags out of the house before leaving in the car for about eight minutes.
According to the news report, when Belmonte’s sister went to the home, the affidavit said, she saw blood smears in the master bedroom. Police also found blood in the home, it said.
“Police found blood in the residence consistent with a violent struggle where a serious injury had occurred and it appears that someone had used cleaning products to conceal blood evidence,” Justice Hurley said.
When police brought in a cadaver dog, it was alerted to the trunk of the car and front door of the home, NBC reported.
Police spent three days searching for Belmonte near her home in the 19300 block of Northwest 5th Street. The body of a woman, believed to be Belmonte, was recovered on Wednesday morning. Authorities are waiting for exact confirmation from the Medical Examiner’s Office that the body found is Belmonte, the report said.
“There was a body located in a wooded area, that body was identified as the victim, Natalie Belmonte, she was found to have blunt force trauma to her head,” Justice Hurley said.
On Monday, police found items in garbage bags in a dumpster behind a Publix related to the case. According to the affidavit, the items included clothing, towels, bedding and pillows similar to those in Belmonte’s bedroom covered in blood.
According to NBC, police said the items included men’s clothing consistent with the clothing worn by the man in the security video. A preliminary DNA test found the blood was Belmonte’s, the affidavit said.
On Thursday, friend and neighbour Lindon Ramsey said he knew Lopes for years.
“There was always something going on with him. Always something a mystery. You never really knew what he was thinking, and it was kind of bothersome, which is why I had to break off my relationship with him, why I couldn’t be his friend,” Ramsey said. “I am shocked, but I am not surprised.”