The Panama Guide Rogue's Gallery
Monday, August 02 2010 @ 07:15 AM EDT
Contributed by: Don Winner
Serial Killers William Dathan Holbert and Laura Michelle Reese: William Dathan Holbert and Laura Michelle Reese are serial killers who murdered at least five, and possibly as many as ten people in the Republic of Panama. Originally from the Hendersonville area of Western North Carolina, Holbert set off on a crime spree with his girlfriend Laura Michelle Reese in 2005. In the United States they sold property they didn't own, stole cars, and were involved in a high speed chase with police which ended with them being featured on America's Most Wanted in March 2006. Shortly thereafter Holbert and Reese fled from the United States, eventually landing in Costa Rica and Bocas del Toro in Panama. From December 2007 to March 2010, Holbert and Reese killed at least five people, and possibly as many as ten or more in Panama. It is still not known if they killed anyone in Costa Rica or Mexico, but that is what authorities suspect and that aspect is currently being investigated. Friends and family members of Bo Icelar and Cher Hughes contacted www.panama-guide.com on 29 June 2010 and alerted us to the cases of two missing members of the English speaking expatriate community in Bocas del Toro. We conducted our own investigation and, based primarily on company and land ownership records discovered in the Panama Public Registry, came to the conclusion that Holbert and Reese (then know by their alias of "Wild Bill" and Jane Cortez) had most likely murdered their victims in order to steal their properties and businesses. On Wednesday, 7 July 2010, I took this information to the Attorney General's office in Panama City. The following Monday, on 12 July 2010, Cher Hughes' aunt, sister, and husband first met with prosecutors and then filed expanded complaints with the DIJ office in Panama City, and the Public Ministry opened an official investigation for the first time on that date. One week later on Tuesday, 20 July 2010, investigators discovered the bodies of Cher Hughes and Bo Icelar buried behind the house on property "owned" by Holbert and Reese. On that day www.panama-guide.com broke the news to local and international press, and a manhunt ensued. Word of the story grew and the intensity of the manhunt increased. Less than one week after the news broke, on Monday, 26 July 2010 Holbert and Reese were arrested by Nicaraguan authorities as they tried to flee from Costa Rica to avoid capture. On Thursday, 29 July 2010, Holbert and Reese were extradited from Nicaragua to Panama in chains. On Saturday, 30 July 2010, Holbert admitted to killing the entire Brown family in 2007, as well as Bo Icelar in 2009 and Cher Hughes in 2010. As I write this, investigators in Bocas del Toro are digging in the ground, searching for the remains of the Brown family, killed by Holbert to steal their land in 2007.
Jerry Ray Hall: Jerry Ray Hall is an American expatriate who first moved to Panama back in 1996. He's been bouncing around the country, starting first in Bocas del Toro, then El Valle, and he now lives in a house in Las Cumbres he bought in 2006 for $141,662 (in his wife's name.) Jerry has gotten into conflicts with literally dozens of members of the English speaking expatriate community here in Panama, primarily with those who have exposed him. Jerry is a pathological liar. He calls himself "Dr. Jerry Hall" even though he apparently has no more than a high school education, with maybe a few credits from a community college somewhere. He attended a 2 day seminar on negotiation at Harvard, and after that he started saying that he had "graduated from the Harvard school of law" and said he was a retired lawyer. In fact, Jerry Ray Hall has not graduated from law school anywhere and has never been a lawyer. He blatantly lies about everything - I've investigated many different angles and elements of information he's put forward, and in every case the truth and facts are very far removed from the lies he creates about himself. When someone attempts to call him on his bullshit, he reacts by attacking violently, creating lies and slander about that person, and doing everything he can to deflect the attention from himself and to redirect his anger towards the person who dared to question him or hold him accountable for the untruths he creates. Most recently, Jerry Ray Hall tried (again) to run for congress. I was concerned that the fine people of the 4th Congressional District in the State of Texas might not know the truth about this man, so I spent the better part of the month of February 2010 writing articles about him, exposing his lies, and alerting others to his bullying methods and vile attacks. Jerry Ray Hall was resoundingly defeated in that election and now he will come slinking back to Panama, where he actually lives. As a result of this evolution he has since published a whole pile of slander and lies about me, which I prefer to call "evidence." I will be taking both criminal and civil legal action against him, to hold him accountable for what he has done, and to let him know that not everyone in Panama can be bullied into silence. I suspect he has some kind of issues related to mental health, and I will be requesting full psychological and psychiatric evaluations as part of my legal action against him. I mean, I don't know what his problems are, but I'm sure someone can figure that out. Anyway, at this point the "Doctor of Fake" Jerry Ray Hall story is pretty much over. He's still barking like a mad dog, but that's to be expected. If he ever tries to run for congress again, then there will be another round.
Steven Rich: Steven Rich was basically a disgruntled ex-employee who created a series of online aliases and fake email addresses in an effort to get journalists to publish lies about his former employer. Steven Rich got rip-roaring drunk and was caught stealing from an event held for the employer's clients, and he was summarily fired the next day. He spent the better part of the next year trying to exact revenge. He first approached me (using an alias) and tried to get me to publish the lies he had invented. When I refused he moved on down the line. Eventually Eric Jackson was stupid enough to convince the Panamanian newspaper La Estrella to print those same lies in their English language version. Then, Steven Rich turned his attacks against me. I investigated the whole thing, unmasked him for what he was and revealed him as the original source of the slanderous and defamatory material. As a result Steven Rich was fired from his position at a law firm where he worked, and Eric Jackson was fired from his gig at La Estrella. I occasionally still receive "sighting reports" on Steven Rich, mostly from the Casco Viejo area. People send me email saying "I saw Steven Rich today, wearing a stupid fake wig and big sunglasses..." So, apparently he's still running around somewhere. Anyway, there's one more scumbag exposed for what he really is, earning his perpetual place on the "Panama Guide Rogues Gallery" wall of shame.
Leslie Aldredge: Leslie Aldredge was basically little more than a con artist who lived in Panama for a couple of years. She had a gift to charm and woo, and she won over many people here. However, she also had a nasty habit of turning on and taking advantage of the people who thought they were her friends. I myself made the mistake of trusting her, and for that she also turned on me and took advantage of that trust. She stole money from money from members of the expatriate community in Panama, took advantage of the confidence she was able to win in people, and basically screwed over a string of former friends. When one of those people filed criminal complaints against her for fraud and theft (she stole a car and a laptop computer) Leslie Aldredge changed her name to "Leslie Carson" and fled to Ecuador where she is undoubtedly repeating the same mistakes today. At one point about a year ago she had returned to Panama for some reason and she called me on the phone to complain about my reporting on her exploits here. She insisted that I take down the articles and if not she was going to sue me. Apparently my reporting on her was crimping her style in Ecuador and limiting her ability to scam new suckers there. I calmly explained to the seething Leslie that I had apparently obtained my desired objective - to let others know about her and to give them ample warning. The bottom line on this woman is - "good riddance."
Jeffery Mowen: Jeffery Lane Mowen was a fraud artist from Utah who managed to steal more than $50 million dollars from investors in Salt Lake City. He absconded with the money and fled to Panama. When the US Marshall's Service unsealed the indictment against him in the United States, it hit the news that they thought he might have fled to Panama. I picked up on the story and ran it, and almost immediately started getting tips via email and telephone calls regarding his whereabouts. He had rented an house in Coronado, and it took local authorities about three or four days to get up there to arrest him. In the meantime I was getting messages like "he's sitting in the McDonald's in Coronado right now, eating a Big Mac and a chocolate shake..." I passed all of the information received through the office of the Legal Attaché in the US Embassy, and they coordinated with the local Panamanian police to bust this guy. When he was arrested he tried to bribe the Panamanian police with $1 million dollars in cash if they would let him go. Once he was in prison in Utah he was caught trying to put out a hit to have witnesses in his case killed. This guy will probably never see the outside of a jail cell again.
RJ Erwin: RJ Erwin whose real name is Joseph Erwin Cover, fled prosecution in Pennsylvania and came to Panama where he started selling real estate in the area of the Pacific Beaches. Well, in reality he first landed in Boquete and he packed up his tent and moved to Coronado once he had worn out his welcome there. RJ Erwin has a serious gambling problem and he's also a serial scam artist. He used my name to defraud several people out of about $45,000 dollars in a scam - money he apparently used to flee Panama and to move to Ecuador. There are pending warrants for his arrest in Pennsylvania. He married a Panamanian woman here who served as his accomplice in some of the scams he pulled (she collected the money and deposited it into accounts in her name). And, he neglected to tell his parents that he got married while he was here. Once the real estate market dried up last year and RJ's mounting gambling debts started to catch up with him he decided it was time to move on to greener pastures. He pulled one more scam in Panama, gathered together a bunch of money, and fled. He left behind is real name and a copy of his passport he used when he got married here, which I forwarded to the police officers who are looking for him in Pennsylvania - prior to that they had an arrest warrant against him for one of the aliases he used there in a home remodeling scam. Sooner or later his passport will expire and if he ever returns to the United States he will be arrested at the border.
Debra Ann Ridgley: Debra Ann Ridgley was arrested and charged with the murder of American expatriate Toni Grossi Abrams. In November 2009 a Panamanian jury found Debra Ann Ridgley innocent in the murder of Toni Grossi Abrams. I visited Ridgley in two different Panamanian prisons and interviewed her extensively about the case. Most notably, she had absolute and perfect recollection of the events of that night as I walked her through a chronological timeline of what had happened. However, the details all of a sudden got "fuzzy" when it became convenient for her version of events. She had a cut on the back of her left hand that she could never adequately explain away. She helped and participated in efforts to destroy evidence. And, the primary element which resulted in her acquittal was a signed confession from the Colombian Didier Osorio, who had already been arrested and convicted on other charges in Colombia. My personal belief is that Ridgley's defense attorneys paid for Osorio's confession, however I'll probably never be able to prove that. Let's just say I met this woman, talked to her at length, and it is my own personal suspicion that she was deeply involved in the murder of Toni Grossi Abrams. However, the weak Panamanian justice system failed to obtain a conviction and right now Debra Ann Ridgley is flat broke and trying to put together a book deal in Pennsylvania on her exploits in Panama. In my opinion, she's earned her place on this list.
Daniel Moreno Melendez: Daniel Moreno Melendez has been arrested and charged with murder as the primary suspect in the brutal beating death of Denise Hiller, who was found dead in her apartment on Friday morning, 19 February 2010. When the story of Denise's murder broke in Panama I picked it up and ran it in English, and was immediately contacted by about a dozen of her friends, family, and coworkers, all looking for more information. One of these people held key information of crucial importance to the homicide investigators and prosecutors. She passed it to me, and I passed it to the homicide detectives in coordination with the Legal Attaché office in the US Embassy. To make a long story very short, the investigators received this information at 9:00 am on the Monday morning after the murder, and by that evening the suspect, Daniel Moreno Melendez, who had worked as a bartender in the Marriott Hotel in a bar frequented by Denise Hiller, had been arrested. On the following Thursday he had been charged with murder, and he will remain in prison until his trial.
This is a work in progress, and I'll be spending a little more time on it every day. There are a few more "Rogues" to add to the hall of shame.
Copyright 2009 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.