As you look over the rail, or out the port, at your new neighbor in our floating cruising community, you don’t expect to find a murderer, if in fact you would recognize said character, even with binoculars. The most ‘violence’ I’ve seen in my vicinity, ever, is a heated discussion about anchoring, or with a recalcitrant outboard motor.
But there were two murders in this very cruising fleet in the San Blas last year, and two associated boat thefts. The cases have not yet come to trial, but it appears that one Javier Martin, a Spaniard who ran a boat for backpackers that went on the reef early one morning, got his next boat by murdering its owner. Then an American, Don North, went missing. Eventually Javier Martin was arrested on his way out of Panama with North’s money and passport. North’s body has never been found, but there’s plenty of circumstantial evidence.
Now this episode is being ‘television-ized’ and will be shown on the CBS program 48 Hours, airing February 4 2012 under a title of something like “Dark Side of Paradise”. All my information is fourth-hand or worse and certainly not to be relied upon, but I think there may also be coverage of some other spooky stuff that went on up in Bocas del Toro, Panama involving a character dubbed “Wild Bill”.
Add to this a tale overheard recently about a man whose wife was encouraged to convert her money into precious metal, kept on the boat, and then to take a short trip home, during which time he made plans to sail off with someone else, well, you gotta wonder, what else is going on out here?
Also, it will be fun to watch the race, as cruisers try to get a copy of the program, via various cobbled together bits of technological capabilities (not including adequate internet), or mail drop, or visiting guest. “We should have it by March”, I heard this morning. Well, there’s no rush.
Update to say that Don Winner of the Panama Guide, panama_guide.com, is the man with most of the information available. We also recently April 2012 met a friend in the San Blas who was looking for Don North´´s body, the confirmed presence of which would aid prosecution. Finding it seems a longer and longer shot, though.