Three men were arrested Tuesday morning for their suspected involvement in the May 14 murders of Jacques Cloutier and Luis Antonio Angulo in the Pacific coastal town of Quebrada Amarilla. Cloutier, 59, was a Canadian citizen that lived in Costa Rica for several years and owned land in the southwest Osa Peninsula. He and Angulo were found shot to death in the front seat of a white Toyota Prado, which was parked on an isolated street (TT, May 20).
According to a press statement by the Judicial Investigation Police (OIJ), the three men arrested were between the ages of 36 and 38. Two of the suspects were arrested at their homes in Quebrada Amarilla and the third was detained in Guadalupe, a suburb northeast of San José. The OIJ reported that “important evidence” was found at the suspects’ homes. Police initially said the two had been robbed of their belongings.
Angulo, 70, was a known cattle rancher in the northwestern province of Guanacaste. While an OIJ spokesman originally said that robbery might have been the motive for the murders, the Herald-Tribune, in Sarasota, Florida, reported that police had ruled out robbery and were focusing on cattle rustling as a motive.
Prior to living in Costa Rica, Cloutier lived and worked in southwest Florida, in the U.S., for more than 30 years, where he founded the Venice, Florida-based home development company J&J Homes in 1972. Although a successful company, when the U.S. housing market began to collapse in late 2006, Cloutier found himself over-leveraged and defaulted on 20 loans estimated at $115.5 million. Several of the loans were funded by the Florida Community Bank, which closed shortly after Cloutier’s defaults.
At the time of his murder, many people who knew or worked with Cloutier told The Tico Times that he was a quiet, kind man, though very guarded with intimate details of his private life.
“I was devastated when I heard about his death,” said Laura McLaughlin Bennawy, a southwest Florida realtor who worked with Cloutier. “He built four homes for me and was a very kind man. One of my homes burned down when it was six months old and he said, ‘I’ll just build it again, Laura.’… I don’t know why anyone would want to hurt him. People thought the world of him” (TT, May 20).