Investigators in Venezuela have taken five people into custody for questioning in the highway murder of a popular soap opera actress and her former husband, according to media reports.
Former Miss Venezuela Monica Spear, 29, and Thomas Henry Berry, 39, were shot and killed around 10:30 p.m. Monday on an isolated stretch of road between Puerto Cabello and Valencia in the state of Carabobo.
It's believed a group of robbers pulled up near their car, disabled by tire punctures, and then opened fire on their rented Toyota Corolla.
Two truck drivers who had arrived at the scene were among those being interrogated, according to the Spanish-language broadcast television network Telemundo.
The network said five people in total were being questioned, including two males under the age of 18.
The four-door sedan Spear and Berry were travelling in hit "a sharp object that had been placed on the highway" which punctured at least two of its tires, the director of the country's investigative police, Jose Gregorio Sierralta, told reporters on Wednesday.
Car fired on after hoisted onto tow truck
Two tow trucks arrived almost immediately afterward, said Sierralta, and the attack occurred after the car had been lifted onto one of the trucks.
Seeing the assailants coming, the couple locked themselves inside the car and the assailants fired at least six shots, he said.
"They fired with viciousness," President Nicolas Maduro said of the attackers.
Police in Puerto Cabello said it could not immediately be determined if Spear and Berry had called the tow trucks, or if the truck drivers were suspected of involvement in the killings.
The bodies of Spear and Berry — who were returning to Caracas from a family vacation — were found in the car, along with their five-year-old daughter, who was shot in the leg and survived.
Hundreds of demonstrators, many of them from Venezuela's entertainment industry, gathered in Plaza Alfredo Sadel in Caracas on Wednesday to denounce what they say is the government's lack of action in fighting violent crime.
Spear was crowned Miss Venezuela in 2004, was fifth runner-up in the Miss Universe pageant the following year and had acted in numerous soap operas, most recently in Pasion Prohibida for the U.S.-based Spanish-language Telemundo network.
She split her time between Caracas and south Florida, said Dominguez, while U.K.-born Berry lived in Caracas. Spear was born in Venezuela but held American citizenship.
Berry's public-facing Facebook page features a series of photos of the couple in blissful days, including a trip to Venezuela's spectacular Angel Falls that preceded their daughter's birth.
Another view into their life was available through the Twitter account of Spear, who had more than 355,000 followers.
Her feed over the last week included links to brief videos sent on the popular Instagram service.
In one, posted Sunday and described as being taken on the plains of Apure, Spear looks at the camera while riding a horse, turns away and then looks back, blowing a kiss.
Spear and Berry had spent New Year's in the mountains of western Venezuela with their daughter, Maya, before visiting the plains of Apure state.
The couple married in 2008 and divorced in 2013, but remained on good terms, Luis Dominguez, a close friend of Berry, told the U.K.'s Telegraph.