U.S. couple, suspected of murder in Panama, nabbed in Nicaragua

July 23, 2010

 

A couple from the United States suspected of killing at least two people in Panama was arrested on Monday morning by Nicaraguan officials on the Río San Juan in Nicaragua, after crossing from Costa Rica.
 
The suspected killers, William “Wild Bill” Adolfo Cortez and his wife Jena Seana, fled Panama last week after authorities there unearthed two dead bodies on a property that the couple owned. The two are also suspected in the disappearance of at least one other person in Panama.
 
According to Costa Rican security officials, the suspects murdered the victims in order to seize their property.
 
They are wanted by the Panamanian Investigation Police, while Interpol and the FBI have also backed the search.

The Nicaraguan army has detained both suspects at a military post on the Río San Juan in Boca de Sarapiquí, near Tambor, where couple docked on Monday morning.
 
Cortez and Seana entered Costa Rica from Panama near the Caribbean coast late last week, Costa Rican officials said. They drove to Santa Cruz de Turrialba, a mountain village east of San José, and abandoned their car on a local’s property there on Saturday night.
 
Around noon on Sunday, the couple arrived in Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui, a town in north-central Costa Rica, where they spent the night in a small cabin. On Monday morning, the two rented a small motor boat to travel up the Río Sarapiquí to Barra del Colorado, a Caribbean coast village and sportfishing destination in Costa Rica’s northeast corner. 
 
When the driver and owner of the boat steered toward a National Police checkpoint near the convergence of the Río Sarapiquí and the Río San Juan, Cortez threw him overboard and sped the boat toward Tambor.
 
There, the couple was detained by the Nicaraguan army and they surrendered without resistance.
 
A team of Costa Rican police have located the boat owner and are holding him as a witness in the case. In an interview with Channel 7 on Monday, the boat owner said that the couple was not traveling with anyone else.
 
Jorge Rojas, the director of the Costa Rican Judicial Police, is speaking with Panamanian and Nicaraguan officials to determine how to prosecute the two U.S. citizens. A group of Costa Rican National Police officers have been stationed near the border with Nicaragua to help communicate any messages regarding the pair. 
 
Since the couple is wanted by Interpol and the Panamanian Authorities, they will likely be deported to Panama to face charges there.
 
Costa Rica’s vice minister of Security, Jorge Chavarría, said that as of Monday, the only crime that the couple had committed in Costa Rica was boat theft. He said Costa Rica will likely pursue these charges, but not until the Panamanian authorities are through with the U.S. expatriates. 

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