Contributed by: Don Winner
By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - On Monday night, 1 September 2008, Kelly Abner was shot in the bathroom of her luxury apartment in the Belagio building located in the Punta Pacifica section of Panama City in the Republic of Panama. Originally investigators suspected suicide as a cause of death, but now additional information is emerging leading family members to think she may have been murdered by her husband of 20 years, 75 year-old Raleigh Abner. For starters, according to Panamanian judicial investigators, tests looking for indications of gunshot residue were conducted on Kelly's hands, which came back negative, indicating she did not fire the gun which killed her. In addition, according to Kelly's mother Irene Morris, Kelly was right handed, "and the gunshot wound that killed her was in the back part of her head behind her left ear, towards the back - it would have been practically impossible for her to have shot herself that way." (more)
Planning to Leave: According to Irene Morris, Kelly had made plans to divorce Raleigh and to return to Houston, Texas, her hometown. Kelly had had confided those plans with the family maid, Maria, who overheard Kelly and Raleigh having a serious fight the night Kelly was killed. According to Maria, they were fighting over exactly that - Kelly's plans to leave Raleigh, divorce him, and to return to Texas.
Through A Locked Door: Maria heard the couple fighting in the master bedroom of their luxury suite and on several occasions she tried to check on Kelly to see if she was alright. She heard the severity of the fight and was concerned for Kelly's safety. Kelly called out to Maria through a locked bedroom door that "I'm alright, I'm going to take a shower." Maria said that she heard the fight going on and that apparently it had become physical. Then, she heard a single gunshot.
Jorge The Bodyguard: Maria's son Jorge worked as a bodyguard for Kelly. The luxury condominium in the Belagio building has two floors - Maria slept upstairs and her son Jorge slept in a bedroom on the lower level. When Maria heard the gunshot she went and got her son Jorge, who broke through the bedroom and bathroom door - and found Raleigh over Kelly's body in the shower.
Heart Problems: Raleigh said he had "discovered" Kelly's body and claimed to be having chest pains - he was rushed to the Paitilla Hospital in Panama City and the police were called to investigate the death of Kelly Abner. They found the 9 mm pistol next to her body and began an investigation to determine if her death was a suicide or a homicide. In the meantime, Raleigh Abner was in the hospital for several days, reportedly under sedation.
Signs of Physical Abuse: According to Kelly's mother Irene Morris when they first saw Kelly's body at the funeral home it was apparent that she had been beaten. They had flown down to Panama to recover Kelly's body to have it flown back to Texas for burial, and there were several signs and marks on Kelly's body indicating she had been in a severe physical altercation: "She had a black eye, her nose and mouth were bleeding, there were bruises high up around her neck that looked like she had been strangled - there were also other bruises on her arms that looked like she had been in a fight" said Kelly's mother. As far as Kelly's mother is concerned there's little doubt as to what happened; "There's no doubt in my mind, Raleigh shot her in the back of the head," she said.
Slow Acting Panamanian Prosecutors: The Panamanian judicial system is anything but fast acting. The report indicating a lack of gunshot residue on Kelly Abner's hands came out towards the end of last week, either Friday the 5th or Saturday the 6th of September. Until then Panamanian investigators had been treating Kelly Abner's death as a possible suicide, but now they are treating the case as a homicide. And of course their prime suspect is Raleigh Abner, the only other human being in the master bedroom with Kelly Abner when she died.
In The Hospital, Raleigh Abner Asks For Forgiveness: Kelly Abner's mother and two sisters visited Raleigh Abner in the hospital when they arrived in Panama. When they visited him according to Irene Morris he said to her "I am so sorry for what I have done, but I'm under a psychiatrist's care now." To Kelly's mother, that statement was basically an admission of guilt. Taken together with the fight they were having (overheard by Maria the housekeeper), the angle and location of the gunshot wound, Jorge the bodyguard basically finding Raleigh standing over the body, and Raleigh's own statement - she is convinced of his guilt.
So, Where's Raleigh? Raleigh Abner attended Kelly Abner's funeral in Houston Texas on Tuesday, 9 September 2008. He hired five personal bodyguards to protect him because, according to Kelly's mother, he was afraid for his life and concerned that someone might take the matter into their own hands at the funeral. Raleigh Abner's exact whereabouts at this moment are unknown, but it's highly unlikely that he will return to Panama any time soon.
Money and Assets: Raleigh Abner is a very wealthy man. The Abner's sold 65% of their business in Panama, supplying fuel to vessels transiting the Panama Canal, just last year. Kelly Abner was still working for the company as a salaried employee until the new staff, management, and administration was up to speed on the operations of the company. Details on the deal are not yet known, but according to Kelly's mother the company was purchased by three partners, including "Chevron, Shell..." Raleigh Abner owns his own airplane, helicopter, several high-end properties in Panama City, as well as an island off the Pacific coast. There's a whole lot of money in the family.
The Cost Of A Divorce: If Kelly was planning on leaving Raleigh, then a possible motive for him to want to kill her might have been the money. According to other family members, Kelly had left Raleigh on other occasions in the past and had returned to Texas, but she always ended up returning to live with Raleigh, even though "he would go to strip clubs and be gone for several days at a time with Kelly not knowing where he was," according to one family member who asked not to be named.
Copyright 2008 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.