Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Costa Rica: US Expat, 64, Stabbed to Death North of San José, Possibly a Contract "Hit"

According to http://www.inquisitir.com, US citizen Kurt Heigis, 64, was murdered by several unknown assailants as he drove home on a lonely stretch of road in San Isidro de Peñas Blancas de San Ramón, just north of the capital of San José. 

The stabbing death occurred at approximately 1930-2030 hours on Sunday night (February 9) on a gravel road, roughly 2.5 miles from the town of La Fortuna de San Carlos, according to Inside Costa Rica, an English-language news source based in San José.

Reportedly, a female companion known only as "Martha," who was in the vehicle with Heigis, stopped to help another motorist who appeared to be having car trouble. 

As Heigis exited his truck, he was confronted by three to four assailants who dragged the American to the nearby bank of the Chachaguita River, where he was beaten and fatally stabbed.

COMMENT: Having worked in Costa Rica for a number of years, my first instinct is that the motorist "having car trouble" might very well have been a pretense to lure Heigis in exiting his vehicle.

Until proven otherwise, the woman known only as "Martha," should be considered an excellent source to debrief, particularly in terms of her relationship to Heigis. She should be considered as a possible suspect in the American's death until ruled out.

According to the Judicial Investigating Organization (OIJ) AKA police investigators, the area in which Heigis was murdered is also one known to be frequented by drug traffickers.

Witnesses interviewed by OIJ investigators claim that the ambush appeared to be planned, as the assailants jumped out of the seemingly distressed vehicle when Heigis stopped to offer assistance. 

Heigis was stabbed in the head and his throat was slit, but his female companion was spared because she pleaded for her life, according to the report. The assailants fled in a late model luxury vehicle.

"Martha's being spared because she pleaded for her life" is a "hot clue." First of all, drug traffickers are used to killing people, so why release "Martha," unless she was complicit in the "set-up"?

Most foreigners who have little to hide are generally very open in terms of what they do for a living. So, why was Heigis so secretive?

What is known about Heigis is that he owned a three-acre property in Los Angeles la Fortuna. Immigration records show that he was in Costa Rica on a tourist visa, which is strange, considering that most expats who have nothing to hide pursue a residency visa.

According to immigration records, Heigis had been traveling in and out of Costa Rica every three months using the Juan Santamaria Airport or land border checkpoints at Los Chiles or Las Penas. 
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. 
Police have not as yet named suspect(s) in Heigis' murder.

According to the US Department of State, the criminal threat in San José is listed as "High," which is the second highest threat level in the Department's four-tier threat categorization system of "Critical, High, Medium and Low."

This report will be updated as new information becomes available.