Damas, 33, considered a “person of interest” in the deaths of his five young children and wife, was detained by Haitian National Police on Monday.
His capture came three days after he is believed to have arrived in the nation of his birth. He flew to Haiti on Friday, the day before the bodies were discovered.
Family members of Damas’ wife, Guerline Dieu Damas, 32, welcomed the news as they continued to mourn.
“I was glad he was captured,” said her brother, Mackindy Dieu, 24. “I want to see justice, but that doesn’t bring my family back.”
Mesac Damas told a reporter in Haiti that he had intended to surrender himself and had returned to the island nation “mostly to say goodbye to my family.”
“I was going to turn myself in. You see I’ve got my suit on and everything,” Damas said as police led him from a back room where he was interrogated to a jail cell.
Wearing a blue suit over a white T-shirt, Damas was interrogated at the police station near the Port-au-Prince airport with his hands restrained behind his back by plastic ties. As he was later escorted down a hallway to the jail cell, his eyes were puffy and he shouted he did not want anyone to touch him.
“I don’t want no pain, no suffering,” he said.
The capture sets off a chain of events that could end with his extradition back to the United States.
Collier County Sheriff Kevin Rambosk said his detectives are awaiting permission from federal officials before traveling to Haiti to interview Damas.
“We’re ready to go,” Rambosk said.
Detectives could leave as early as Tuesday.
The bodies of Guerline Damas and her children, ranging in ages from 11 months to 9 years, were found in two areas of their home, at 864 Hampton Circle in North Naples, on Saturday night, Rambosk said.
Most of the bodies were in an upstairs bedroom; another body was downstairs.
The sheriff didn’t identify which bodies were found in which rooms.
Family members have said the victims’ throats were cut, and Rambosk has called the homicides the most brutal the community has ever experienced.
The children were identified as Michzach, 9; Marven, 6; Maven, 5; Megan, 3; and Morgan, 11 months.
Also on Monday, a report released by the state Department of Children and Families showed that an investigator visited the Damas home last Wednesday and found no signs of trouble.
Rambosk emphasized on Monday that Damas is only wanted for questioning and isn’t labeled a suspect in the slayings. Yet, the situation in which the former Naples DJ and restaurant cook finds himself suggests detectives don’t want him out of their sights.
The agency is seeking Damas’ extradition on violation of probation, a move that could keep Damas detained after detectives interview him, if an arrest isn’t immediate.
The warrant was filed Monday by the Collier County Probation Office, and it cited Damas’ one-year probation after he was arrested on a domestic violence charge involving his wife in January.
Damas was hiding in a house next door to a low-budget motel when he was captured by a motorcycle unit of the Haitian national police, police spokesman Frantz Lerebours said. He declined to say how they found Damas.
Rambosk suggested the probation violation could be a reason for Haitian authorities to detain Damas, but said Haitian authorities had the final say on why he was kept in custody.
“The Haitian National Police have made that determination,” he said.
Damas is originally from the village of Archaise, outside of Port-au-Prince, the nation’s capital, according to the Collier Sheriff’s Office.
Mika Haberfield, a professor of comparative policing at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Washington, D.C., said she was surprised a probation violation charge could lead to extradition, although the fluid nature of the country, which has seen governments come and go, creates windows.
“When you’re dealing with countries still in development, anything is possible,” she said.
She said the case’s notoriety, as well as the fact that the victims are Haitian, could lend weight to the nation’s decision to allow extradition.
Others say the fluidity in Haitian laws could create problems.
Julie Shealey, a senior inspector at the U.S. Marshal’s Service, recalled a narcotics extradition out of Haiti earlier this year. Even that case bucked the status quo, she said.
“With Haiti, if it’s a Haitian national, odds are more than likely you are not going to get them,” she said.
Mackindy Dieu, the brother of Guerline, said he was hopeful for the return and for a criminal charge.
He said he believes his brother-in-law is guilty, and that he wants him to pay with his life.
“I would like him to get the death penalty,” he said. “No question about it.”
Found at a sister’s home on Monday, Mackindy Dieu said the past few days felt like a bad dream.
He said he only learned that Damas was physically abusive with his sister after the January arrest. From then on, he and family members told her to leave the relationship and move back in with family.
She didn’t, although Mackindy Dieu believes she was beginning to change her mind in recent days.
Ultimately, he said, her sister was an adult left “to make her own decisions.”
“But taking the kids’ lives, innocent five kids? I just couldn’t believe it,” he said, of the killer.
If Mesac Damas was the killer, “I don’t know what was going through his mind,’’ Dieu said. “Mentally, I think he’s sick.”
Dieu said that Guerline arrived in the U.S. in 1994, at age 17, with himself and two other siblings. They joined two older siblings and quickly began branching out for themselves.
Guerline Damas graduated from Lely High School and soon took up work at Publix in North Naples, where she has remained since. She met Mesac Damas 10 years ago, although Dieu wasn’t sure where they met.
The two extended families rarely mixed, Dieu said.
He said his family is now looking at burial expenses. The six bodies will likely be buried at once, Dieu said, placing a financial burden on the family.
Radio station B-103 announced a fund-raiser for the family on Monday.
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The Associated Press and Staff Writer Ryan Mills contributed to this report.