St. Maarten Police Arrest Suspect in Slaying of U.S. Couple
By Brian Major
September 22, 2012 3:39 PM
St. Maarten police announced the arrest Sunday of a suspect in the slayings of a South Carolina couple. A male suspect, who has not yet been charged, was arrested before dawn, said Ricardo Henson, a police spokesman quoted in international press reports. Henson did not discuss further details regarding the suspect or his arrest, sayings police would issue a statement “as soon as more information can be divulged.”
The bodies of Michael and Thelma King were found on Friday in their beachfront condominium at the Ocean Club Villas Residence and Inn development in the Cupecoy district of the dual-nation Caribbean island. Both appeared to have fatal stab wounds and Thelma King was tied to a chair. The Kings were American citizens who were part-time residents of St. Maarten and owned several homes on the island.
“The St. Maarten Hospitality & Trade Association is outraged at the attack and murder of two Americans on St. Maarten,” said Emil Lee, the organization’s president. “We join the people of St. Maarten in expressing our sincere condolences to the family and friends of this couple and support the efforts that have been placed by the police in quickly working to bring the culprits to justice. St. Maarten is a small, diverse and close-knit community. This tragedy pains everyone in the community deeply.”
According to an account in the St. Maarten Daily Herald, the bodies were discovered by Topper Daboul, a local businessman and a friend of the couple, who grew concerned after not hearing from them and being unable to reach them by phone.
On Friday, Daboul went to their condominium, where he had a housekeeper’s relative scale the fence to check the premises. The relative saw Michael King’s body through a window. Daboul alerted police, who found Thelma King’s body. According to the Herald article, Michael King had recently sold a label company he owned and was partnering with Daboul to open a rum factory. Police have not said how long the bodies lay undiscovered in the condominium.
The Daily Herald reported that it “understands that police recovered Michael King's credit card and mobile phone in an abandoned vehicle and realized it was linked to him after calling numbers in the phone. Details of where the vehicle was found could not be determined, however, this newspaper understand that the vehicle did not belong to Michael King.” The Kings were reportedly in their 50s and did not have children. Mos said a team of 25 police officers “are involved in the investigation.”
St. Maarten government officials issued an immediate statement upon hearing about the slayings. “Our hearts go out to the family and friends of the couple found murdered at the Ocean Club in St. Maarten,” according to the statement. “Since the incident is still under investigation, we cannot comment about the details at this time, but we can assure you that every government resource is being brought into play to investigate and solve this case.”
St. Maarten is known as a safe destination for travelers and there has been no recent increase in crime. Many Americans own or rent vacation villas on the island and it is a regular cruise ship port of call.