Q COSTA RICA – Sisters Ruth and Dayana Gaytán Ramírez, 23 and 21, were sentenced Monday afternoon to 25 years in prison each for the murder of Brian Lynn Hogue, the American investor/pensioner who disappeared in Limon on June 1, 2015 and whose body was never found.
A third person, Jeiner Zúniga Salazar, was acquitted. Although there were indications of his participation in the murder, the judges, Karen Parrales, Veronica Dixon and Hernan Salazar, gave the accused the benefit of the doubt, not able to link him directly to the crime.
In the Limon courthouse, Ruth and Dayana listened to the reading of the sentence.
Trial judge Salazar said, “It (the murder) was a hair-brained plan with the sole purpose of depriving a human being of his life to appropriate themselves of all of his property.”
The judge explained the sisters hatched the murder realizing that the Hogue had discovered that he had been stripped of two valuable properties he owned in Paquera by means of a land registry fraud and that it was only a matter of hours before he realized who was behind it.
“He did not disappear because he had decided to leave the country, but because they vanished him so that he could not make the criminal complaint and that the case (of fraud) would remain unknown. However, in the end, the authorities discovered what had happened,” explained Salazar.
The story is that the young girls met the older gentleman and learned of his land ownership from their cousins, workers of the foreigner. Hogue decided to help out the girls by allowing them to both move in to the farm house he had in Gallo Pinto, in La Marina de Guapiles.
Soon Hogue started a romantic relationship with Ruth. One report says the relationship had begun in January, six months prior to his disappearance.
One day before Hogue was to have filed the complaint for the theft of the properties, Ruth convinced him to a “honeymoon” trip to Limon city.
On the night of June 1, 2015, Hogue’s body was removed from the hotel room where he was staying, in Moin (Limon) and was never to be seen again.
The sisters did not receive a prison sentence for the land registration fraud, the crimes were absorbed for the greater crime of homicide.
A fourth defendant, Bernardo Corrales Vargas, the one to have propitiated the falsifications to obtain the transfer of the properties, after deceiving to a notary public in San Carlos with false information, was found guilty of fraud, for which he was sentenced to three years in prison. But he will not go to jail because he was given time served.
Corrales and Ruth (who were a couple) also faced a charge for an abortion, but in the end, only the woman was found to be guilty, for which she was sentenced to six months in prison, given the court testimony of her cruelty in causing the abortion and disposal of the fetus.
His Love For Costa Rica
Brian Lynn Hogue, 67 at the time of his disappearance, was a native of California, who fell in love with Costa Rica after his first visit and that made him become a regular visitor.
Houge was accompanied in his travels to Costa Rica by his wife, Susan Clare Houge. In one of the last visits, the couple decided that the country would be the place of retirement of both.
Once retired, Brian and his wife returned to the country and chose to settle in Paquera, Puntarenas, where he acquired two properties. One of the properties was bigger than the other so with investor vision made plans to segregate and sell off lots.
In those first years, Hogue dedicated his time to his real estate business. His wife, learning of the relationship with Ruth, decided to leave him and return to the US.
With the profits from the sale of the lots, the pensioner/investor acquired a third property located in Guapiles.
Little by little, Hogue’s new girlfriend realized that the foreigner was very well-off financially and contacted Corrales to plan a scam.
The Ministerio Publico (Prosecutor’s Office) explained that the suspects went to a notary friend of Corrales to take possession of Hogue’s two properties in Paquera and his vehicle, a Suzuki XL-7.
Signatures were falsified and on May 24, 2015, the couple appropriated themselves of the properties and vehicle.
Everything was going as expected.
But on May 29 Hogue commented to his girlfriend (Ruth) he would be seeing a lawyer on June 1 because there was a problem with one of the properties, learning the registry fraud when he tried to mortgage the Paquera property.
The alarm bells went off in the minds of the swindlers when the plan was devised to vanish Brian Lynn Hogue as soon as possible.