American national Kurt Heigis was murdered Sunday night by unknown assailants as he made his way home on a lonely stretch of road in San Isidro de Peñas Blancas de San Ramón area in Costa Rica just north of San Jose. According to a female companion, known only as Martha, 64-year-old Heigis stopped to help another motorist who appeared to be experiencing car trouble. He was set upon by three or four men as he exited his truck. Heigis was dragged to the nearby banks of the Chachaguita River where he was beaten and fatally stabbed.
The Judicial Investigating Organization (OIJ) reports that the incident occurred between 7:30 and 8:00 in the evening in an area known to be frequented by drug traffickers. Witnesses interviewed by Judicial Investigating Organization investigators claim that the ambush appeared to be planned as the assailants jumped out of the seemingly distressed vehicle when Heigis stopped to offer aid. He was stabbed in the head and his throat was slit, but his female companion was spared because she pleaded for her life, according to the report. The assailants fled in a late model luxury vehicle.
Very little is known of Heigis’ business in Costa Rica. He owns a three-acre property in Los Angeles la Fortuna. Immigration records show that he was in Costa Rica on a tourist visa. Since 2007, Heigis has been traveling in and out of the country every three months using the Juan Santamaria Airport or land border checkpoints at Los Chiles or Las Penas. Locals claim that Heigis was a quiet neighbor and kept to himself.
Robbery does not appear to be a motive as Heigis was carrying the equivalent of $4,000 in local currency at the time of the ambush. The money and his vehicle were untouched according to reports.
Costa Rica is a popular retirement destination for Americans. The latest figures from the National Statistics and Census Institute indicate that 15,898 American citizens live in Costa Rica as of 2011. This is a little over 4 percent of the country’s foreign population. About 9 percent of Costa Rica’s population consists of foreigners from Nicaragua, Colombia and the United States. The number of homicides in Costa Rica dropped from 459 to 394 between 2011 and 2012, but the U.S. Department of State still rates the nation’s criminal threat as high.
Police have not yet named a suspect in this case.