At his farm in Virginia, in 1998, a friend introduced John Bender, who had made millions on Wall Street, to Brazilian-born Anne Maxine Patton, whose delicate beauty and intense passions won him over.
In 2000, Bender and Patton moved to Costa Rica. They planned to build a private refuge for injured, abandoned and endangered animals, united, she testified later, by a shared love of animals and conservation.
But over the years, cloistered in their mountain keep, complete with moat, Bender and Patton became ever more reclusive. Their tastes became more eccentric and obsessive. And by 2009, Patton was beginning to waste away. She had contracted Lyme disease.
Then on January 8, 2010, police answered a call to find Bender dead in the couple’s bed with a gunshot wound in his neck. His wife was there with him, holding his hand and shaking uncontrollably, when authorities arrived.
The mystery of precisely why and how Bender died reads like pulp fiction.
In January 2013 Patton was tried for Bender’s murder — and acquitted. The decision was less a declaration of Patton’s innocence than an indictment of the prosecution’s case. The judge ruled that the forensic evidence presented by the state was inconclusive but acknowledged that Patton could have killed her husband. The prosecutor’s office appealed the acquittal. There is no protection against double jeopardy in Costa Rica.
On Monday, (May 19, 2014) Patton leaned her small frame on a cane as she walked with difficulty into the pale green court room in San Isidro de El General, Pérez Zeledón. Patton told the local news channel Repretel, in a quivering voice, “I have no doubt that everything is going to end up OK. I know the truth.”
You can read the full story: ‘Gems, Guns and Death in an American’s Costa Rican Jungle Mansion” at the Daily Beast http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/05/25/gems-guns-and-death-in-an-american-s-costa-rican-jungle-mansion.html