Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Costa Rica: Update--Stabbing Death of US Citizen North of San José, Robbery Not a Motive

According to The Billings Gazette (MT), authorities are investigating the multiple stabbing death of US citizen Kurt Heigis, 64, who was killed Sunday night (February 9) on a gravel road 2.5 miles from the town of La Fortuna de San Carlos, according to Inside Costa Rica.

Heigis was traveling in his truck in the company of Nicaraguan woman identified as Marta Rafaela Blandón, 30. When the two approached a bridge that was apparently blocked by a vehicle, driven by three men, who reportedly also stabbed the American to death.

COMMENT: As I said in yesterday's posting, and typical of  Latin American criminal tactics, where murder may be the sole motive, the "vehicle with car trouble" may have been a ruse to kill Heigis, potentially "for hire."

Two of the assailants subsequently hit Heigis in the head, stabbed him and cut his throat on the side of the road.

Blandón told authorities that the third assailant restrained her during the slaying and that she survived by begging for her life, according to AFP.  

As I have said in the past, it is extremely rare for assailants to leave any witnesses, particularly in a "contract killing."

To do so, suggests that Blandón may very well have been complicit in Heigis' murder.

As I mentioned yesterday, "Armed robbery does not appear to be a motive for Heigis' death, as he was carrying the equivalent of US$4,000 in local currency at the time of the ambush. The money and the American's vehicle were not stolen."

Interestingly, in today's account of the murder, THE BILLINGS GAZETTE refers to only $1,900 in cash. So where did the other $2,100 go, unless the earlier news report was erroneous?

According to Heigis' daughter, Joanna Mong, in Billings, MT, described her father as a simple, private and friendly man who was well-liked. She said he was known for his artistic “land-sculpting.”

Mong has been in communication with the US Embassy in San José, the latter of whom claims to be working with local authorities to investigate her father’s death, yet it is my experience since retiring from the US State Department as an RSO and as a special agent, that few homicides of foreigners abroad are ever "cleared" with an arrest by local police, much less a conviction.

Considering that Mr. Heigis had exited Costa Rica some 19 times since 2007 and continued to function on a tourist visa, it is puzzling as to why he never sought a temporary or permanent residency visa in the country, particularly if he owned property.

Interestingly, Ms. Mong said her family was endeavoring to raise money so as to have Heigis' remains returned to Montana, yet having lived in Costa Rica for so many years, surely the American should have known that as a tourist, he was not eligible for medical care in Costa Rica.

It would have been essential for Heigis, given his age, to subscribe to international medical treatment and evacuation coverage through the below:

It should also be noted that such insurance typically includes insurance for the return of a subscriber's remains if they die while abroad, which Heigis should have opted for.

It is my firm belief that Heigis seriously aggrieved someone for him to warrant what appears to be a premeditated homicide.