Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The real-life 'Hostel' murders


They fled to Costa Rica, where they'd lived briefly before settling in Panama. During this stay, William Holbert contacted at least three people who'd listed their real estate online as for sale. But Holbert and Laura Reese decided to move on.

Holbert's passport
Holbert's passport

The couple continued their flight north. On July 26 ,2010, they reached the San Juan River which marks the border between Costa Rica and Nicaragua. There they allegedly stole a boat, throwing its pilot overboard. The Nicaraguan army stopped them when they reached the other bank. Traveling on Dutch passports, Holbert and Reese were carrying a gun and ammunition, as well as documents allegedly related to the murdered and missing persons.

Holbert and Reese, recent
Holbert and Reese, recent

Panama issued an arrest warrant two days later, and Nicaragua immediately extradited the couple.

The media met the couple as they got off the plane in Panama City. Holbert joked with reporters and acknowledged he had a lot to straighten out with Panama's officials.

But Calderon says that during his first questioning, Holbert confessed to killing his five suspected victims, telling prosecutors how he killed each of them and where he buried them. Reese has asked for a lawyer and declined to talk.

There isn't a death penalty in Panama; Calderon says Holbert could get 50 years in prison, but that Reese would serve less time.

Panama, Costa Rica and states within the U.S. are reviewing other crimes to make sure that William Holbert and Laura Reese haven't gotten away with anything else.

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