PEMBROKE PINES (CBS4) –Pembroke Pines Police announced Thursday afternoon that a body found Wednesday has been positively identified as that of Natalie Belmonte, 43, of Pembroke Pines.
The positive identification came just hours after a judge denied bond for Gerard Belmonte, 22, who stands accused of killing Natalie, his mother, in their Pembroke Pines home and then dumping her body in some nearby woods.
Gerard Belmonte was charged with first-degree murder on Wednesday.
By Thursday morning Belmonte, who also goes by the name Gerry, made his first appearance before Broward Circuit Judge John Hurley. Belmonte is on suicide watch.
During the hearing, Judge John Hurley read from the police report. In the report it notes that at around 5 a.m. a neighbor’s surveillance camera caught someone coming out of the house and backing Natalie Belmonte’s car up to its front. The person is then seen dragging a large object from the house to the car.
“The police said that the object that they saw the subject carrying to the back of the vehicle was consistent in size of that of an adult human being,” said Judge Hurley.
The person on the recording then goes back in the house several times bringing out garbage bags before driving off at 5:16 a.m., according to the report. A little more than eight minutes later the vehicle returned to the house and the driver went inside.
According to the report, Belmonte told police he had not left the house from the time they got home from a party around 2:30 a.m. on Sunday to when he woke to find Belmonte missing late in the morning. But a neighbor reportedly refuted that claim.
“A neighbor claims, that you came over to the neighbor’s house several times asking about a security camera, whether or not the security camera had picked up any evidence about what happened to your mother. The neighbor said you came over four times,” said Judge Hurley.
The report also state’s that when Belmonte’s sister visited the home she found blood smears in the bathroom. Police K9 dogs brought in from Miami-Dade and Miramar police to assist in the search ‘alerted’ to the trunk and bumper of Belmonte’s car as well as the front door of the residence.
Inside the residence, the report said police found blood and signs consistent with a “violent struggle.” According to the report, someone had tried to use cleaning products to get rid of the blood.
A search of the area uncovered bags consistent with those seen in the video in a dumpster behind an animal hospital at 195th Avenue and Sheridan Street. Inside the bags were bloody towels, clothing, bedding and pillows similar to those in Belmonte’s home.
The report states that the clothes in the bag matched the clothing worn by the person in the video. A preliminary DNA test of the blood on the clothing confirmed that it was Belmonte’s, according to the report.
The report further said that a body found in wooded area on Wednesday was that of Belmonte and she died of blunt force trauma to her head.
Neighbor Al Quintana said he knew Gerard since he was just a kid and that for him to be charged with killing him mom left most in the community stunned.
“Very hard to believe,” he said. “Wow…such an elaborate set of actions.”
Quintana added, “It seems like this man lived two lives. One that we saw and another life that we didn’t know about. “
In a statement, the family of Natalie Belmonte expressed their gratitude for the work of investigators in finding her body.
“There are no words to adequately express the depth of our sorrow from the loss of Natalie — who (we) will forever love and cherish her memory. Senseless tragedies such as this remind us to cherish each day and bring us together as a family and community.”
(Photo Credit: Pembroke Pines PD) Natalie Belmonte
CBS4 News has learned that Gerard Belmonte was arrested and accused of stealing from his mother in 2008.
A police affidavit states that he did “knowingly and intentionally remove approximately $20,000 in various jewelry items from the victim’s jewelry box.”
The affidavit also states that Natalie Belmonte “advised she wished to prosecute.”
CBS4 News also learned that Belmonte turned himself in last month related to that case, and got out of jail three days before Natalie Belmonte disappeared.
When he was 15 his father was arrested and accused of hitting Gerard with a metal baseball bat give times because he misbehaved,” CBS4’s Ted Scouten reported.
Many young people in the neighborhood have known Natalie Belmonte since they were kids. She was one of the first people to move in and was well known, and liked, by everyone, according to neighbors.
“She was awesome to have around, she was really nice,” neighbor Lindon Ramsey said. “She always had people over. She had all the kids playing in the yard. There’s nothing you could possibly say that was really negative about her, there’s nothing, absolutely nothing.”
Ramsey said he had been good friends with Gerard Belmonte until recently. He and other neighbors suspected him of breaking into their homes, and Ramsey believes he committed this latest deadly crime.
“I hate to say it, but this is almost on his level. I can say that it’s on his level,” said Ramsey.
Ramsey said that ironically the camera that may have caught the crime in progress may have been installed because of Gerard.
“Why people ended up installing cameras the block over and right across the street?” he said. Things would happen, Gerry would always be involved once we got down to the bottom of it.”
For many who knew Natalie they’re trying hard not to focus on her death, but rather her life and how she lived it.
“She was always happy,” Teresa Rodriguez said. “So we want to think about her all the time that she’s going to show us a happy face where ever she is now.”
Anyone with information about Belmonte’s death is asked contact the Pembroke Pines Police Department at (954) 431-2200, email to Tips@ppines.com, or call Broward Crime Stoppers at (954) 493-TIPS.