The Arenal Area Magazine

Panama More bodies found at Panama home of US couple accused of serial killings


The authorities in Panama have discovered three more bodies on the property of a US couple who are accused of murdering fellow expatriates in the scenic Bocas del Toro archipelago.

Jose Pachard, deputy director of the Institute of Legal Medicine and Forensic Sciences, said the remains of a man, a woman and a child had been recovered, bringing the number of corpses at the site to five.

William Holbert, 30, and Laura Reese, 27, were charged last week with deceiving and killing people for their property and money.

Authorities said the man, known to neighbours as Wild Bill, had confessed to shooting dead seven people. He was giving police information to help find the bodies.

The case broke with the discovery of the corpses of Cheryl Hughes, a hostel owner from Missouri, and Bo Icelar, a retired gallery owner from New Mexico, in shallow graves.

Holbert and Reese, who had lived in the archipelago under the aliases William and Jane Cortez, had supposedly bought Hughes’s hostel and Icelar’s house just before they disappeared last year.

Authorities said Holbert had also confessed to killing three other Americans – one Mike Brown, his wife and young son – three years ago. Forensic scientists are trying to detemine whether the most recently discovered remains are theirs. Two Panamanian workers were also alleged to have been shot dead, but reports said Holbert denied being involved.

Holbert and Reese have been charged with murdering Hughes and Icelar, and more charges could follow pending identification of the corpses, police said. Humberto Mas, director of the forensics institute, said Holbert had refused a psychological evaluation and requested legal assistance.

Police say William Holbert, also known as William Cortez and 'Wild Bill', has confessed to seven killings. Photograph: Alberto Lowe/Reuters

Seven years ago Holbert, a bodybuilder and white supremacist, was married with three children and running a landscaping business in North Carolina.

After the marriage failed, he filed for bankruptcy, and sold a $200,000 coastal home and a car he did not own. With a woman believed to be Reese, his new partner, he used aliases and eluded authorities in six states, landing a spot on America’s Most Wanted.

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