Two U.S. citizens have been sentenced in the murders of five people by a Panama City court, after having been found guilty of crimes related to the deaths. William Dathan Holbert and ex-wife Laura Reese face long prison terms as a result of a guilty verdict recently handed down in the case.
Holbert is facing 47 years in prison for robbing and killing five other American tourists, while in the Caribbean destination spot. Ms. Reese was sentenced to 26 years for the part she played in the crimes.
William Holbert Admitted To A Long-Running Scheme
In speaking with authorities, Holbert acknowledged killing five people between 2007 and 2010 for the purposes of stealing their property in the Bocas del Toro area. The confession came after William and Laura Reese were detained, while trying to cross the border from Costa Rica to Nicaragua in 2010.
Claudia Alvarado, an attorney working on behalf of Holbert, says they will likely appeal the sentencing.
In 2010, an investigation discovered five bodies (four adults and one child) buried on property owned by Mr. Holbert.
Mike Brown, his wife, and young son were the first victims, having been murdered by Holbert in 2007. Upon investigating, police found reason to suspect Brown, himself, had been living under an alias, making it difficult to uncover his true identity or determine where he was from.
In 2010, William Holbert again claimed more lives. He murdered Cheryl Lynn Hughes of St. Louis Missouri, who was living in Panama and operating a small hotel. William also killed Bo Icelar, the former owner of a Santa Fe, New Mexico art gallery.
William Holbert Has A Troubled Past
Even before he killed Mike Brown, Holbert was often in trouble with the law, expressing a propensity for criminal behavior. His problems began when he divorced a previous wife in North Carolina, which led him to filing for bankruptcy and forced him to sell his landscaping business.
While still living in the state, he met and later married Laura Reese. William sold a piece of real estate that he didn’t legally own for $200,000. When the buyers notified police, Holbert and Reese were forced to leave the state. A high-speed chase ensued with authorities pursuing the couple across multiple state lines from North Carolina to Wyoming.
Holbert and Reese had fled to Panama, but a new investigation initiated by Panama police forced the couple to again hit the road. William Holbert and Laura Reese were trying to escape, when they were arrested at the Nicaraguan border.