Dutch couple, laborer found dead at Costa Rica farm

January 5, 2016

A Dutch couple and one of their employees were found dead Monday on a hardwood plantation in Puntarenas near Costa Rica’s central Pacific coast.

The victims have been identified as Johannes “Hans” Snelders and his wife Sita Dhawtal from Holland, and Rivar Avenec Montalbán from Nicaragua.

Police said the three were found dead by another laborer at the Dutch couple’s home on the plantation near Sardinal, Puntarenas, according to a statement from the Judicial Investigation Police (OIJ). The victims’ hands were tied.

The bodies were found in a state of decomposition, complicating the exact cause of death, but the Dutch man appeared to have been struck on the head, OIJ reported.

Public Security Ministry spokesman Carlos Hidalgo told The Tico Times that the crime took place at Finca La Flecha, which is owned by Ganadera La Flecha Pura Vida, S.A. Snelders was president of the firm, a records search found.

Snelders is listed on LinkedIn as the director of Ganadera La Flecha since November 2009. He has been a temporary resident of Costa Rica since 2013, immigration authorities confirmed.

The website for Ganadera La Flecha suggests that Snelders had sold several hundred lots on the plantation — which is around 400 hectares — mostly to people living in Holland or Belgium as an investment, or to relocate to Costa Rica or harvest the hardwoods planted on the property, including teak.

The daily La Nación reported that Dutch police were expected to arrive Tuesday to help with the investigation.

The bodies of the victims have been sent to the OIJ morgue for autopsy. No motive has yet been given for the crime.

Costa Rica hit a gruesome milestone in December when law enforcement reported more than 530 homicides during 2015, the largest number since 2010.

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