Nightmare In Atenas Costa Rica: American Expat and His Fiancé Murdered , Then Burned

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James Allen Honer and his fiancée Bianca Mena Sibaja were well on their way to planning their dream wedding, when suddenly their family and friends stopped hearing from them. On May 3rd, their charred bodies were found by firemen putting out a fire on a nearby mango farm in Atenas, Alajuela.

Honer (77), was an American retired lawyer, and Bianca (30), was a Tica student – a fantasy romance that had developed over two years. They were very much in love and had recently returned from a European vacation where they had become engaged. Friends of Bianca say her family is devastated. “It had been some time since we saw her, but Bianca was a wonderful person with a heart of gold that was full of love. We only hope that those callous killers remain in jail and not free. The whole family is destroyed by what happened to our Bianquita,” said a family member of the fiancée.

Authorities have four suspects in custody for these murders: a 51-year old woman named Suarez Jimenez, her 21-year old son named Salas Suarez, a 19-year old named Reyes Villalobos, and an 18-year old named Esquivel Castro. The 51-year old female was apparently Honer’s maid. The suspects were found in possession of Honer’s car, and a search of the maid’s quarters turned up Honer’s credit card. They were arrested on May 9th, and have been sentenced to 6-months of Preventive Detention. This is a typical timeline for cases of homicide in Costa Rica. This gives officials time to complete DNA tests and other forensic tests of victims.

The family believes the couple disappeared at the end of April. Authorities suspect they were killed at the end of April, or in early May, and were perhaps killed elsewhere and brought to the mango farm to be cremated. It is believed that the couple were doused in accelerant before setting on fire, to make identification more difficult. It is also suspected that the accused may have lived with their dead bodies for three days in Honer’s house before burning them. Neighbors remember seeing members of the gang of four coming and going to the Honer house, and seeing them drive his car in the days surrounding his disappearance.
The accused were captured driving Honer’s and another car, but driving at a time not permitted due to the COVID-19 transit restrictions. Both cars have been impounded by Transit Police. Investigation into the two suspects who were not family members of Honer’s maid is ongoing. Honer operated a small domestic employee placement service for expats and others, which is how he apparently made the acquaintance of Bianca.

A family member of Bianca’s commented that Honer had given her a lovely engagement ring, and plans for a beautiful wedding were on hold pending the end of COVID-19 restrictions for large gatherings. Honer posted on his Facebook page last April that he had fallen completely in love with a Costa Rican citizen.

These are Costa Rica’s 190 and 191st murders this year, a number police are trying to stop from growing.
May the couple rest in peace

About the Author :

Carol Blair Vaughn has written for Inside Costa Rica and The Costa Rica Star, as well as El
Residente magazine. She grew up in Latin America, traveling with her father Jack Vaughn,
former Assistant Secretary of State for Latin American Affairs, and US Ambassador to Panama
and Colombia. The Star published her book Crazy Jungle Love: Murder, Madness, Money & Monkeys
in 2017, and it is now available for purchase on Amazon as both a paperback and an


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