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U.S. Couple, Suspected in Panama Murders, Captured in Nicaragua

The following is from Top10 Costa Rica. I don't normally copy and past a full story, but there was no easy way to link straight to this one, so I hope the good folks at Top10 don't mind.

Using Costa Rica as a rest stop, the two foreigners detained in Nicaragua have been clearly identified as the American couple wanted in Panama in the death of at least one U.S. woman and up to six others, Nicaraguan authorities saying on Tuesday that they would hand the couple over to Panamanian authorities.

In addition to being wanted in Panama, the F.B.I. in the U.S. say that “Wild Bill” is wanted in the United States since 2005, suspect of at least 20 killings.

Nicaraguan officials took their time after the couple was captured by the Nicaraguan army in the waters of the San Juan river after stealing a boat on the Costa Rica side and avoiding a police checkpoint.

“These are the people who are being sought by police in Panama, and they will be handed over to the authorities of that country,” National Police official Glenda Zavala said at a news conference.

The pair matched photographs provided by Panamanian authorities of William Adolfo Cortez of Texas and his wife Jane, who are being sought in the death of Lynn Hughes, Nicaraguan army spokesman Juan Ramon Morales said.

The two identified themselves as an American man and Dutch woman and gave names that did not coincide with the Panama suspects. Nicaraguan and Panamanian authorities believe they were traveling under false names.

“The photographs that we have coincide with those arrested yesterday,” Morales told The Associated Press.

Panama has been informed of the identification and has begun proceedings to seek the couple’s extradition, said Javier Carillo, the head of Panama’s investigative police.

The couple used the ruse of pretending to buy property and then killing the owners and telling neighbours that the sale was completed and the sellers moved on.

In Costa Rica they are believed to have been attempting the same ruse but their time was caught short when the owners of a house in Santa Cruz de Turrialba informed police.

When police arrived at the home the couple were gone. Costa Rican authorities also learned that the couple had rented a cabin a day or two before near the Panama border and believed they were heading north.

Faced with machine guns and other high calibre weapons used by the Nicaraguan army, the couple decided to surrender peacefully after stealing a boat on the Costa Rican side of the San Juan river and avoiding the police check point.

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