A federal judge announced a double murder indictment Thursday against a 75-year-old former Sacramento resident, 38 years after the hog-tied bodies of two British tourists were found after a boating excursion from Belize.
Silas Duane Boston, who was arrested last week in the rural town of Paradise, was charged with two counts of first-degree maritime murder in the killing of Christopher Farmer and his girlfriend, Peta Frampton. The tourists from Cheshire, England, recent graduates of medical and law schools who were both in their mid-20s, had taken an excursion on a boat that Boston was operating in Belize, earning money by taking tourists on scuba diving or snorkling expeditions.
Boston was brought into the courtroom Thursday in a wheelchair and fitted with audio headphones for the proceedings. He did not speak. His defense attorney, Douglas Beevers, said his client, who was living in a convalescent home when he was arrested, suffers from arthritis and has difficulty hearing.
“He didn’t receive all the batteries for his hearing aid, and it’s been difficult to communicate with him in jail,” Beevers said.
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Federal prosecutors announced they would not seek the death penalty against Boston, though the charges could result in life in prison.
A federal criminal affidavit in connection with the indictment stated that Boston, then 37, promised to take the couple to Mexico. But instead Farmer was beaten with a billy club, stabbed in the chest with a fillet knife and tied up after an apparent argument on the boat with Boston, who also tied up Frampton and then pushed them overboard, the FBI said. Their bodies were later found off the coast of Guatemala.
Boston was arraigned in Sacramento federal court Thursday before U.S. Magistrate Carolyn Delaney, who introduced a not-guilty plea on his behalf and scheduled his next court appearance for Jan. 10. The charges came after an unexpected break in a cold-case investigation involving the unsolved disappearance of Boston’s wife, Mary Lou Boston, who was last seen in 1968 in Sacramento – 10 years before Farmer and Frampton died – and is believed to have been shot and killed, according to court documents.
Interviewed by police as part of the missing person case, Boston’s son Vince described the incident that took place on the boat when he was 13 years old, according to court documents.
In a statement Thursday, Sacramento U.S. Attorney Phillip Talbert commended police agencies, including the FBI and the Greater Manchester Police Department of Great Britian, for helping bring the case forward. In particular, Talbert singled out the Sacramento police cold case investigators, saying: “Nothing would have happened if the Sacramento Police Department had not thought to consult with this office about what could be done with a 38-year-old homicide in the Caribbean Sea.”
The investigation has stirred a mystery over a deadly criminal saga potentially involving multiple victims.
According to a criminal complaint by FBI Special Agent David Sesma, a former traveling companion of Boston interviewed by authorities reported that Boston talked about killing two other tourists in Belize by taking them to an island in a rubber boat, robbing them, cutting their throats and leaving them in a jungle. The witness said Boston also claimed to have shot three drug dealers in Sacramento who assaulted a female friend. Federal authorities haven’t verified the reports.
The complaint also suggested Boston may have been involved in a fatal hit-and-run in Sacramento’s Lemon Hill neighborhood in 1972.
The same traveling companion also allegedly listened to Boston’s story about killing his wife. The FBI complaint says Boston told his traveling companion that he killed his wife and buried her body after taking her to an undisclosed location where he liked to go shooting. A man who traveled with Boston in Mexico told authorities that Silas Boston had said that after Mary Lou Boston exited his truck, he told her to run and then shot her.
Silas Boston told the man that he “was unsure if he hit her in the back of her skull or the base of her skull but the shot didn’t kill her,” the complaint states. The man said Boston told him he approached his wife as she pleaded for her life – asking “What about the kids?” – before Boston delivered the fatal shot. Authorities said Boston told the man that he was left with blisters on his hands from burying her.
According to a September 1968 missing person report filed with Sacramento police, a brother of Mary Lou Boston told authorities her disappearance seemed particularly strange, the report said, because “she was a devoted mother to her three children and could not stand to be away from the children for any period of time.”
The report said the brother told police that Boston, who was working for an ambulance company at the time, was acting uncharacteristically “nervous and jittery” and said he didn’t want to get involved if the brother contacted police. The report also noted that a .22 caliber rifle with a scope, said to be Boston’s favorite possession, was missing. Boston told the brother he had traded it “for some junk items he wanted,” the report said.
However, police investigators concluded at the time that Mary Lou Boston’s disappearance “does not appear to be a legitimate missing person” case because the couple “are having marital difficulties and “the wife has left the husband.”