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Robbery could have been motive behind killing of three foreigners in December

June 23, 2016

A Dutch man, his wife and an employee who were found dead in January at the couple’s home near Sardinal, Puntarenas may have been murdered in a robbery gone bad, Judicial Investigation Police (OIJ) subdirector Luís Ángel Ávila said Thursday.

Johannes “Hans” Snelders of Holland, his wife Sita Dhawtal of Suriname and Rivar Avenec Montalbán of Nicaragua were the victims of the triple homicide that is believed to have occurred at the end of last December on Finca La Flecha.

Snelders was president of the company Ganadera La Flecha Pura Vida, S.A., which owned the plantation.

“The strongest hypothesis that we’ve had since the beginning is that this was a robbery,” Ávila said. “It’s an extensive plantation with very few neighbors and [we think] the motive was to rob them but when things went wrong it ended in homicide.”

Investigators do not have any suspects but believe there was enough evidence left on the scene and with the subsequent autopsy reports to lead to one or more suspects, Ávila said.

The OIJ subdirector said Snelders and Dhawtal had a timber business focused on growing trees and selling wood. Snelders established a corporation for the Sardinal farm in 2007 and had been a temporary resident of Costa Rica since 2013.

The website for Ganadera La Flecha suggests that several hundred people, mostly from Holland and Belgium, owned lots on the plantation, which totals some 400 hectares.

Ferdinand Schellinkhout, an investigator from Holland who has come to Costa Rica to assist authorities here, said he has been working homicide investigations for more than 20 years and is satisfied with the job that OIJ is doing.

Schellinkout said he will speak to relatives of the deceased on Friday to gather more information.

Ávila said, “His visit is very important to allow us to know the family’s relatives because the couple didn’t have any relatives living here in Costa Rica. They seem to have been practically alone here in the country but they were working a lot with different types of people at the farm.”

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