Monica Spear
Monica Spear and Thomas Henry Berry were laid to rest todayFacebook

The funerals of Venezuelan beauty queen Monica Spear and her ex-husband Thomas Henry Berry have taken place in Caracas.

Hundreds of people turned out to pay their respects to the former couple, who were killed in a robbery on an isolated stretch of highway.

They were returning to the Venezuelan capital with their five-year-old daughter after a family holiday.

A private wake was held in Caracas before the funerals, allowing fans of the model-turned-actress to pay their personal tributes to the local star.

In the face of his personal loss, Monica's father, Rafael Spear, said that the tragic murders should be a catalyst for change in the crime-ridden country, which has one of the highest murder rates in the world.

"My heart is hurting but I find strength in Mónica to plead for a change," said Spear. "Things have to change. We have to find the capos that are providing the guns to the people. We have to stop killing each other. I hope her death serves to eliminate this senseless violence."

Hundreds of mourners waited in long lines outside the Caracas chapel to express their personal sense of horror at yet another killing that has shocked the world.

Katy Pulido, Spears' manager, echoed Rafael's sentiment saying: "It is painful that it took their deaths for us to talk about what is happening here with crime. Both myself and her family have confronted this loss as an opportunity for reconciliation and change."

Monica Spear Mootz
Monica was crowned Miss Venezuela in 2004Reuters

Many people attending the service did not know Spears or Berry personally, but came to support the call for action from the government to combat the rampant crime in the country. "I came because I want to tell the president we have had enough," said Omar Torres, an engineer whose cousin was kidnapped last year.

"A nation cannot live in fear. These were people who served their country. How many more useful lives must we lose?"

Amanda Gutiérrez, a well-known actress, said: "I can only hope her death is not in vain. I think it is the artists' obligation to organise street protests that demand that the government sweeps the country and cleans it of weapons."

District mayor Ramon Muchacho added: "It is a crime that shakes the foundation of the country. And that puts in front of our eyes the awful reality we live in.

"Sometimes Venezuelans live in escapism, looking one way or the other, trying to forget what happens every day. But this crime reminds us that there are more than 20,000 families, who are left in mourning every year in Venezuela (due to violence)."

The murders were committed by a local gang, who preyed on motorists on the stretch of road between Puerto Cabello and Valencia.

Jose Gregorio Sierralta, chief of Venezuela's criminal police, confirmed that seven people have been detained in connection with the case, including two minors, with further reports that at least 11 people were involved in the horrific crime, four of whom remain on the run.

Monica Spear Mootz
Thomas Berry and Monica Spear Mootz on their wedding day in June 2008.Facebook

The commissioner claimed the 32-year-old alleged ringleader of the group, known as Fat Danilo, supplied younger men in the gang with guns and drugs.

Although the weapon used in the robbery has not been found, it has emerged that a digital camera stolen during the attack, led police to the criminal group.

The deaths prompted the president, Nicolás Maduro, to call emergency meetings with local governors to address the escalating crime rate in the country.