BELIZE CITY, Mon. Dec. 19, 2016–A United States federal indictment for Silas Duane Boston, 75—a California man who had reportedly been charging tourists to snorkel and scuba dive in Belize without a license decades ago and was accused of murdering some of his clients—was recently unsealed in the US District Court for the Eastern District of California in a 38-year-old cold case in which two British lovers who had been visiting Belize as a part of a one-year overseas tour met their torturous deaths in what experts certified as asphyxia by submersion—or drowning by force.
US investigators were able to land the arrest of the man, reportedly from a convalescent home, earlier this month, after finally receiving statements between October 2015 and February 2016, from multiple sources, among them Boston’s own sons, 11 and 13 at the time, whose accounts claim that the British couple, Christopher Farmer, a doctor, then 25, and Peta Frampton, a recent law school graduate, then 24, were tortured and killed before their travelers’ checks were forged and spent.
Bomberos (or volunteer firefighters) from Guatemala discovered that their badly decomposed bodies had washed up near the coast of Punta de Manabique, roughly 15 miles southeast of Punta Gorda, hogtied and anchored using machine weights. The US retains jurisdiction to prosecute these extra-territorial crimes under federal law because the incident reportedly happened aboard a boat owned by an American – in this case, the Justin B., which Boston reportedly registered in Belize and named after one of his sons.
“Maritime murder is a crime against the United States,” said the affidavit of FBI Special Agent David J. Sesma, who has led the charge in collaboration with the Sacramento Police Department (SPD), and particularly SPD detective Amy Crosby.
Crosby had been investigating the cold case of Boston’s ex-wife, Mary Lou Boston, who was said to have gone missing in September 1968 in another suspected case of murder for which the elderly man is being investigated. According to Sesma, Crosby became aware of the double murder when he was investigating Mary Lou’s case. Boston is accused of shooting his ex-wife in the back and burying her still alive because she wanted to divorce him; but he had told investigators that she had taken money from their joint account and run off with another man, FBI investigators were told.
Sesma’s affidavit also points to reports of another possible murder of another visiting couple, who a witness said had been robbed and their throats slashed before they were left in Belize’s jungle for dead. We note, though, that although the allegations have been levied, no criminal cases have been filed with respect to the other allegations, including an allegation of statutory rape, from which Boston is accused of fleeing when he came to Belize with his two sons while he was in his 30s.
A statement published by the Department of Justice, US Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of California, said that a federal grand jury has returned an indictment against Silas Duane Boston, charging him with two counts of first degree maritime murder, which authorities said had been premeditated.
The criminal indictment was signed and filed by US Attorney Phillip A. Talbert, and in it Boston is accused of the 1978 murders of Christopher Farmer and Peta Frampton, for which he could face either the death penalty or life imprisonment. According to the Department of Justice statement, though, the United States is not seeking the death penalty.
There is no statute of limitation for charges to be brought, under federal laws, since the death penalty can be applied in the case.
Boston, who was arrested in Paradise, California, was arraigned on Thursday, December 8, before US Magistrate Judge Carolyn K. Delaney. He was taken to court in a wheelchair and entered a not guilty plea.
“The charges are only allegations; the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt,” said the official statement.
According to the affidavit filed by Sesma, the murdered couple had lived in Cheshire, England, before journeying to Australia, Mexico and then Belize, from which they wrote on June 6, 1978, from the Marin Hotel. They also reported traveling to Caye Caulker, Hunting Caye, and Placencia. The couple intended to move on to New Orleans, Louisiana, where Frampton could have visited a friend, but they went on a sailing adventure with Boston, who had claimed that he could take them to the US via Chetumal. First, though, he wanted to go to Costa Rica to sell his boat, they couple was reportedly told.
Frampton wrote letters to her loved ones back home along their journey, and although their bodies were found on July 6, correspondences continued to be mailed back home afterwards—one of them being postmarked 10 days after their bodies had been discovered. Boston’s son reported that his father had found Frampton’s letters, “steamed” and unsealed them, read them, resealed them and then mailed them from Livingston. Among her last words to her relatives was that “…nothing much happens on a boat…” suggesting that the couple was having a serene time up until the time that the letter was written.
However, Farmer’s father, Charles, began to make inquiries with authorities after September 1978, when nothing else was heard from the couple. He corresponded with the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, as well as authorities in Belize, Guatemala and the US. The Belizean Acting Harbour Master, A. F. Mahler, had advised that the couple had been included on the roster of crew members of the Justin B, at the time registered to Boston, 37, when it set sail from Dangriga bound for Puerto Cortez on June 26, 1978. When the vessel returned to port on August 9 that year, the couple was not among the crew members, who also included Boston’s sons, Vince, 13, and Russell, 11.
Boston had told investigating authorities that he had been having boat troubles and the couple disembarked intending to hire a local vessel. He said that he may have seen them near Livingston but was not sure. The matter was also referred to Interpol by authorities in Guatemala and the US.
According to information which Boston’s sons provided to US authorities, things went awry when Farmer defended one of Boston’s sons, Russell, whom the father was allegedly punching while yelling at him. Boston is accused of hitting Farmer repeatedly with a “billy club” and then attacking him with a fillet knife, which incidentally broke. He is also accused of having threatened to shoot Frampton with a spear gun.
As the altercation ensued, the couple was hogtied, with ropes tied to machine anchors, and plastic bags put over their heads, before they were taken aboard the vessel and dumped in the sea, the affidavit recounted.
They were told to sign over their checks, and made to believe that they would be left tied to a tree and allowed to later escape; instead, they were reportedly pushed overboard and drowned.
After three to four minutes, the accused declared: “…ok, they are dead now,” one of his sons told US authorities.
“You know, I had to do that. They didn’t give me a choice,” he also said, according to the affidavit.
It is alleged that the father also forged the couple’s travelers’ checks and spent their money.
The FBI affidavit deposed on December 1, 2016, that there is “probable cause” against Boston, and asked the court to issue a warrant for his arrest, which was soon after executed. Boston is now awaiting trial in California.
(Also see story, “Two tourists were killed at sea after leaving Belize City”, published on page 11 of this issue of Amandala)