According to The Yuma Sun, and my last posting of August 22, the Panamanian government's forensic analysts have confirmed that the skeletal remains found on August 20, inside a backpack in Panamá do in fact belong to US expat Yvonne Baldelli, 42, a Californian who went missing on November 26, 2011.
Authorities in Panamá compared the DNA of the bones with that of Baldelli's immediate family members to determine that the remains did in fact belong to her.
As a result of the confirmation, Baldelli's family will be able to repatriate her remains back to the US for a formal burial.
COMMENT: Baldelli moved to Panamá in September 2011 along with her boyfriend at the time, Brian Brimager, a retired Marine now living in San Diego with a woman he subsequently married and had a child with out of wedlock.
Ms. Baldelli was reportedly last seen on November 26, 2011, leaving a restaurant with Brimager on Isla Carenero in the Bocas del Toro region of Panamá. Brimager is suspected by US law enforcement of murdering Baldelli.
In early December 2011, Brimager left Panamá and traveled to Costa Rica and then on to the US. Law enforcement officials believe this was part of an elaborate scheme to make it appear as if Baldelli had left him for another man.
Baldelli's family did not immediately suspect anything was wrong because Baldelli, a clothing designer, was frequently out of contact with them. Yet, Yvonne failed to attend a family reunion and couldn't be reached by family members, they grew concerned and reported her as missing to police in January 2012.
In May 2012, Panamanian police began investigating Baldelli's disappearance as a homicide. That year, FBI agents and Panamanian forensic specialists found traces of blood on the walls and floor of the hostel El Sapo in Bocas del Toro.
On June 27, 2012, Brimager was arrested after being indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of obstruction of justice and making false statements in connection with the case.
The indictment charged Brimager with murdering the young woman and creating a cover story to explain her whereabouts, even going so far as to impersonate Baldelli via email “in an attempt to trick her friends and family into believing she was still alive, thereby obstructing, influencing and impeding investigation into her disappearance and suspected death.”
The indictment also accuses Brimager of assaulting Baldelli after they arrived in Panamá and in attempting to dispose of evidence, including some of Baldelli's personal belongings and a bloody mattress.
Brimager has denied any involvement in Baldelli's disappearance and has not been charged with homicide, either in Panamá or in the US.
What is particularly strange is that the capabilities of the FBI Laboratory in Quantico were not made available in an attempt to link trace evidence and woman's clothing found in the backpack in which some of Baldelli's remains were found.
Indeed, it is even more tragic when a US citizen is killed in a foreign country, very likely by another US citizen, and potentially gets away with murder.