Hardly anyone would have looked twice at the man in the white T-shirt breezing down the streets of Beverly Hills with his dad on May 25. However, when that man turned out to be Bruce Beresford-Redman, the former Survivor producer whom Mexican authorities named a “person of interest” in the death of his wife, Monica, in April, people took notice. What was he doing in L.A. when his passport was still in Mexico? And why did his father tell a court that same day that he didn’t know where Bruce was? “It was very disturbing,” Monica’s sister Jeane Burgos says of Bruce’s return home. “If he was really worried about my sister, really loved her and didn’t have anything to do with this crime, he would be helping the Mexican authorities. But he turned his back and flew away.”
His U.S. sojourn may be short-lived: On May 31 Mexican authorities-who claim they didn’t know Bruce had left the country-issued a warrant for his arrest in connection with the murder of Monica, whose body was found on what would have been her 42nd birthday. Beresford-Redman, 39, immediately issued a statement: “I am devastated at her loss; and I am incensed at the suggestion that I could have had anything to do with her death. I am innocent.” For his in-laws, the charges come as a relief, but raise more questions: Will Bruce return to Mexico for his day in court? What will happen to the couple’s two children, Camila, 5, and Alec, 3? And will the grieving family ever get closure?
Even before the murder charge, Monica’s parents and sisters believed that the evidence pointed to Bruce. According to the family, the couple’s 11-year marriage had been on the rocks ever since Monica, a restaurant owner, learned he’d been unfaithful. Jeane says Bruce had become verbally abusive to his wife; the night before Monica disappeared, guests at the plush Moon Palace Resort in Cancun, where the couple had been vacationing, claim they heard them fighting. (Two days later, on April 8, her body was found in a sewer at the hotel. Officials say she had been strangled.) “It’s our understanding there were no fights,” says Bruce’s attorney Richard G. Hirsch, who calls the murder charges a “rush to judgment” and adds he has questions of his own-specifically whether Monica’s death is linked to what he says are other suspicious incidents at the resort: a guest found dead on the edge of the property, an attempted rape, a fall from a balcony.
Police have never indicated there was another person of interest in the case and had told Bruce to remain in Mexico while the investigation continued. But he returned to L.A. on May 23 because he had “no legal obligation to remain in Mexico,” says Hirsch, and needed “to be with his children and attend to family and personal matters.” Once he was back home, Bruce filed to regain legal control over his kids, who had been placed under the temporary guardianship of his parents, David and Juanita. (Monica’s sister Carla, 46, has also been seeking guardianship.) “They’re traumatized [by their mother’s death],” says Jeane, 44, who works at a travel company. She regularly visits her niece and nephew-temporarily living with their father and paternal grandparents at Bruce’s L.A. County home-and reveals, “Every night they pray and say, ‘I love you, Mommy.'”
It’s uncertain how much more time they’ll spend with their father. Mexican authorities are planning to extradite Bruce, but should he fight to stay in the U.S., it’s unclear if and when he would return to Mexico. Meanwhile, Monica’s family is hoping for justice. Says her father, Joao Burgos Filho: “I want the person who committed this heinous crime to be convicted.”