Since 2004, Vince and Cherie had been working on building a 36-acre sanctuary for two species of protected crocodiles found in Belize - the American and Morelet's crocodiles.
They built the home, sanctuary, and research facility of their dreams: a two-story octagonal house that rested on stilts and reached 30 feet into the air; two smaller cottages to house researchers and students; acquired two boats; and dug out two acres of canals that would supply a natural waterway through the many crocodile pens.
On September 5th, 2010, everything they had built and owned was demolished. While on a crocodile emergency call to rescue three large problematic crocodiles on Ambergris Caye, Vince and Cherie got a devastating phone call. They were informed to not to come home, as there was nothing to come home to. Angry villages from a settlement about 10 miles away formed in a mob outside their property, complete with armed men, women, and children, and proceeded to loot, destroy, and burn everything the Rose's had built.
This vicious and violent riot was a reaction to the visions of a local psychic. Following the disappearance of two children, a local psychic had told the villagers that the two missing children could be found in the belly of the crocs. Without any sort of proof besides the words of the psychic, truck loads of villagers took the law into their own hands and obliterated everything on Vince and Cherie's property.
The Rose's home and ACES facility were raided, their personal items tossed out like garbage on the lawn. Everything they had every owned had been torched. And all the crocodiles that were in sight, secured inside ACES habitats, were mutilated, shot, and set on fire.
When it was finally deemed safe for Vince and Cherie to return to their property, they sat in shock and devastation as they scanned over the wreckage that was their home and sanctuary just a few days prior. Years of hard work and incredible progress and now everything was lost, well at least that's what they though until two very happy faces emerged from the bush. Rio and Maya, the Rose's two rescued dogs, had survived and came running to their beloved owners, each bringing a sense of comfort to the others.
Though much was lost in the terrible arson, the dedication to their mission to protect and preserve the crocodiles was not. Vince and Cherie refused to leave Belize. In a interview with CNN Cherie stated, "We are going to stay in Belize. We are going to fight this. I'm not abandoning those crocodiles down there" "What we created was absolutely beautiful," Vince Rose said. "No, I'm not going. We're not letting them run us out of this country."
As promised, Vince and Cherie pushed forward. They moved to Ambergris Caye and once again started to build American Crocodile Education Sanctuary - Time for a new beginning.
No arrests were ever made. The two missing children were later reported to have been with their biological father in Guatemala.
PG TV captured the horrific crime committed by villagers. This actual footage is for the friends and family of Cherie and Vince Rose who never got to see what was aired in Punta Gorda, Belize. Our loss was a tragic, violent, and an unnecessary crime.
Aug. 17th, 2012, A declaration is granted that a riotous assembly of persons, as defined in section 2 of the Riot Compensation Act Chapter 338 assembled at the claimants' property situated at Water Hole Road, Forest Home village, Toledo District for the purpose of executing a common purpose with violence and without lawful authority used such violence for that purpose to wit: they intentionally set fire and destroyed three houses, furniture, household utensils and other property owned by the claimants. I will now hear the parties on the issue of compensation.
JUDGE OF THE SUPREME COURT Oswell Legall
The Defense has appealed on the grounds that Judge Legall erred in his decisions.
To date, no arrests have been made; we pray to GOD that justice will prevail!
Vince & Cherie Rose
Founders of ACES/American Crocodile Education Sanctuary