By now most everybody has heard that former Yankees pitcher Pascual Perez was brutally murdered in his home near Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic during an apparent home invasion robbery. The attack is still under investigation and no arrests have been made in the murder; nor do I expect that there ever will be.
Why the cynicism you ask? Well, to be quite frank, having spent more than 30 years in law enforcement (half of which as a robbery/homicide detective) and having personally visited third world countries before (albeit not the DR), I have a pretty good grasp on how their law enforcement works or, more specifically, how it doesn’t work.
The intent of this post is not to bag on third world countries or even on law enforcement within them, but rather to point out that third world is still third world and people living in these countries simply do not enjoy the same freedom and liberties that we are blessed with in the U.S., Canada, Great Britain, France, Australia, and other industrialized nations, and this includes professional law enforcement services.
Now this certainly is not to say that industrialized countries (especially the U.S.) do not have brutal murders, Lord knows we do… a lot of them, in fact. But the chances of pulling off a home invasion robbery that includes the beating death of the victim without detection or apprehension is relatively slim these days. It’s not that the Dominican authorities don’t care or are incompetent, they simply do not have the resources available to them (i.e. crime lab services, DNA testing, etc.) that industrialized countries have because their governments are basically as impoverished as their citizens are.
With so many professional baseball players coming out of countries like the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Puerto Rico and other third world countries, and with the tremendous salaries that these guys make, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that MLB players (or their families) are perfect targets for criminals, this because many of these baseball players make (or made) more money in one month than their home towns generate in tax revenue in an entire year – in many cases a lot more.
After hearing about the Perez murder and still having that cop curiosity (hey, what can I say, once a detective, always a detective), I began researching this incident and learned that the attacked occurred on the day after Perez received his MLB pension check. This certainly suggests that the suspects knew full well who their target was and that he would have a lot of money on hand, thus making this murder a “willful, deliberate and premeditated” crime – a capital offense in California and many other states.
There have been other crimes committed against professional baseball players (and their families) who hail from third world countries, quite a few of them in fact. Most involve kidnapping for ransom and one of the more recent crimes was that of Washington Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos in his native Venezuela. Fortunately, police were able to track down Ramos and his captors to a nearby mountainous residence and after a fierce gun battle, Ramos was rescued unharmed.
And, of course, there was the highly publicized and bizarre kidnapping of the mother of Hall of Famer Cal Ripkin Jr. right here in the U.S., but authorities believe that the lone suspect probably did not know who his targeted victim was or that it was MLB related. Fortunately, 74-year-old Vi Ripkin was released unharmed after she was kidnapped at gunpoint from her home outside Baltimore, blindfolded and driven around for nearly 24 hours (how terrifying would that be?). She was found unharmed in her car early the next morning near her home.
During spring training last year, I had an opportunity to speak with family members of a Dodgers player (who, for privacy reasons, shall remain nameless). They indicated that their son was robbed at knife point in the Dominican Republic while playing winter ball there. Fortunately, their son was not injured after giving up his wallet but he swore that he would never again play baseball outside of the U.S.
Getting back to the Pascual Perez incident, there are some interesting facts that further confirm that the attackers knew exactly who their victim was. Perez’s brother Melido Perez is the mayor of San Gregorio de Nigua, the town where the murder occurred. Melido, a former right-hander with nine professional seasons, including four with the Yankees, mourned his brother’s death. “It is horrible what is happening in this country,” he said. “You’re not even safe at home.” Pascual’s other brother Carlos Perez also pitched in the majors, including with the Dodgers (remember the famous water cooler beating by Carlos, which led to his immediate release from the team?).
Regardless of the circumstance, there is absolutely no rhyme or reason for this senseless and brutal crime and I can only hope that those responsible are apprehended and receive the appropriate punishment, and my thoughts and prayers go out to the entire Perez family.