Published On: Fri, Feb 4th, 2022

Velasquez-family fiercely opposes early release for Amy’s killer Ashton Lake

PHILIPSBURG — August 27, 1983, was supposed to be just another hot and dry day in paradise. Temperatures peaked at 32 Celsius at noon and did not go lower than 28 during the evening. St. Maarten was a peaceful place, its population just above 16,000, a far cry from the estimated 43,000 people that call the island their home today.

Little Amy Velasquez was looking forward to her sixth birthday the very next day. Sadly it was the last day of her precious life. She was brutally taken, raped, tortured and murdered by a 21-year old from Anguilla, one Ashton Lake and his accomplice. After serving 38 years of his life sentence, Lake has recently asked for early release, thereby ripping open wounds that were already more than a mile-deep among Amy’s loved ones. The court in Curacao takes a decision about Lake’s request on February 17.

Amy’s sister Jennifer was 14 at the time of this horrific crime. Now 52, she is fighting with all her might for her little sister’s honor and against Lake’s release. A petition against Lake’s release initiated by Jennifer Velasquez, had more than 3,000 signatures on February 1.

StMaartenNews.com asked Jennifer Velasquez to cooperate with an article about the dramatic event that changed her life. She readily agreed, but when it came to react to some questions we posed to her, she wrote that it was hard for her to provide answers. “Damn it hurts so badly. But I cannot run away anymore. I have to fight for Amy and for all the other children in the world. Enough is enough.”

There have been brief and almost clinical reports in several media about Lake’s request for early release. None of these reports reflects on the pain the now 59-year old rapist and killer has caused to Amy’s loved ones. Our story intends to give a face to that anguish and to create a better understanding of what Lake’s possible release would do to them.

Lake and his accomplice tried breaking into another house but that family woke up.

The Velasquez-family realized there was something very wrong when Jennifer’s mother found Amy’s bed empty that morning. “We called for her but when my mom noticed the concrete bricks outside her window she panicked and knew that Amy had been taken. The whole island showed up to look for her.

The terrifying truth became apparent when Amy’s father found his daughter’s body in the lagoon. “I remember that they announced they had found her,” Jennifer Velasquez says. “Dr. Datema gave my mother a sedative. My mom and dad wailed so hard. I have never in my life heard so much pain and anguish come from someone. ‘Bring my baby home,’ my mother screamed. I collapsed outside and I was in shock for about three days. It was heart-wrenching. No parent or family should ever have to go through this. He tore her little body apart with no remorse.”

Painful as it is, Jennifer Velasquez described what Lake did to her little sister. “He raped, sodomized, bit her and stabbed her. Then he tied a piece of rebar to her neck and her feet and threw her body in the lagoon. He then went with his accomplice to a bar for a drink as if nothing had happened.”

Lake’s crime had a profound impact on the Velasquez-family. “I remember my sister and I having to take care of my mom for the rest of our teenage years. She was and still is to this day in so much pain.

Jennifer Velasquez dealt with her sister’s loss in a different way. “I made very poor decisions to mask the pain and the nightmares. I ran away from the reality and the pain but it never worked. Even when I returned home nine years ago, the room we built could not have any windows and it had to have a reinforced door. I am in constant fear that he will come back to kill the rest of us.”

I feel like justice is failing us if they release him.”

Jennifer Velasquez remembers Amy like it was yesterday. “She was our baby sister and a very sweet and loving child. She was just so happy and never asked for anything. Amy loved her dolls. I remember she was always playing with them. She also loved all her school friends and her cousins.”

Lake’s trial took place in Curacao. Jennifer Velasquez was unable to attend it, but her mother and sister went through this experience. “It was heart-wrenching from what I was told because he explained to the court what he did to Amy in very graphic and inhumane detail.”

The Velasquez-family fought hard for the death penalty against Lake, but that did not happen. Instead, Lake got a life sentence. “Getting out after being sentenced to life is just insane,” Jennifer Velasquez says.

Based on the law, Lake is entitled to a review of his life sentence, an opportunity he has now used to ask the justice system for early release. Understandably, even the thought that the court might decide to release Lake, does not sit well with the Velasquez-family.

“I will have zero faith in the justice system if they believe that he will not commit a crime like this again,” Jennifer Velasquez says.

The impact of Lake’s crime on the Velasquez-family endures until this very day. “Every single day the fears are always there. Not only for my children but for everyone who was a child at that time. No one has forgotten and no one has felt safe since Amy’s murder. He can never be freed and continue this fear. He is a monster.”

Please help by signing and sharing her petition online: https://www.change.org/p/justice-court-st-maarten-curacao-justice-for-amy-velasquez-brutally-raped-and-murdered-1983-in-st-maarten


Opinion piece: Doing justice to Amy’s legacy