The Organismo de Investigación Judicial (OIJ) confirmed that an exhumed body from an unnamed grave, in the Quepos, Puntarenas, cemetery is that of William Sean Creighton, the American owner of the 5Dimes sportsbook, missing since September 24, 2018.
The finding of Creighton, 43, originally from West Virginia, was made by investigators on Thursday, September 5, after receiving confidential tips on the location of the body.
Though there had been rumors that the body was that of American bookmaker, this fact was disclosed last Monday by the U.S. network ESPN, which quoted a spokesperson for the U.S. State Department in a statement: “We can confirm that the Costa Rican authorities identified the remains of a US citizen in Costa Rica.”
“We offer our sincerest condolences to the family on their loss. We are closely monitoring local authorities’ investigation into the cause of death. We stand ready to provide all appropriate consular assistance. Out of respect to the family during this difficult time, we have no further comment,” said the statement.
However, in Costa Rica, the Ministerio Publico (Prosecutor’s Office) has not yet confirmed either the OIJ or U.S. State Department’s version.
“The Deputy Prosecutor’s Office against Drug Trafficking and Related Crimes (Fiscalía Adjunta contra Narcotráfico y Delitos Conexos) has not confirmed that the appearance of the remains in Quepos correspond to the same person (William Sean Creighton), so we are waiting to receive a report with all the scientific analyzes carried out in the Complejo de Ciencias Forenses (Forensic Science),” the Ministerio Publico said through their press office.
It added that, if it is confirmed that the body is that of William Sean Creighton, it would be adding charges to the accused already under indictment.
The Quepos cemetery is located on the side of the Costanera sur (ruta 34), 300 meters east of the Maxi Palí and is owned by the municipality.
Consulted, the mayor of Quepos, Patricia Bolaños Murillo, she initially claimed not to be aware of the situation (finding of the body); but then he said that on the day of the exhumation, the cemetery manager told her about the presence of the OIJ at the cemetery.
“The problem with our cemetery that at the back it is surrounded by a palm grove. Anyone can enter. The cemetery has a person in charge during the day, but at the night we have no one, for now, because the guard he’s incapacitated (on medical leave) he had an accident and we’re a little short of staff.
“On the day there is only one manager who in theory helps us so much to take care of the people who have to bury a person there, give maintenance and everything that goes around the niches,” the mayor told La Nacion.
Bolaños added that on Thursday (today) she would investigate a little more about the issue and can give a more detailed explanation on how the American came to be buried there.
On September 24, 2018, Creighton was abducted after leaving the 5Dimes office, his vehicle intercepted by two traffic police officers in the area of Grandialla de Curridabat, around 10 pm. The OIJ, in their accounting of the events that night, said four men in a pickup truck arrived at the scene and abducted Creighton.
Following the abduction, Creighton’s family said they received a US$5 million dollars ransom demand, ultimately paying only one million in bitcoin. Creighton was never released and never heard from again since that night.
On January 11 of this year, the OIJ arrested 12 people as suspects in the kidnapping.
Three were captured in Zaragoza, Spain: a computer engineer with the surnames Morales Vega, his mother Vega Aguirre, 45, and his girlfriend, Solís Chaves, 24.
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In Costa Rica, the OIJ arrested Morales’ grandmother, Aguirre Leal, 71; her son, Vega Aguirre, 46; a woman, Sanabria Martínez, 35; and six men: Martínez Chacón, 39; Sánchez Gamboa, 45; Ford Dowdon, 37; and Rivera Masís, 64; Medrano Vargas, 34 and Jirón López, 36. The last two are Transit Police officials.
Wálter Espinoza, head of the OIJ, said at the time, that each of those involved had a different role with the motivation to get money, including a lookout to notify the traffic cops working with the men in the pickup truck and so on. Morales, the ringleader was to handle the financial end.
However, despite the payment of the ransom and attempted negotiations for the release, the whereabouts of Creighton was never known. Speculation was that Creighton had had a part in his disappearance.
Money laundering investigation in the U.S.
Creighton grew up in Bridgeport, West Virginia. After graduating from West Virginia University in 1998 with a degree in business administration, he moved to Costa Rica, a year later he founded and ran the 5Dimes sportsbook headquartered in San Pedro.
In 2016, the Department of Homeland Security revealed it was investigating 5Dimes for money laundering, according to a seizure warrant filed in U.S. District Court that year. In the warrant, an agent detailed how he believed 5Dimes instructed bettors based in the U.S. to use gift cards as a way to place and later cash out bets.
The federal government has never brought charges against 5Dimes or Creighton. The investigation remains open.