40-year mystery over British couple's death in Guatemala could finally be solved

Man arrested after Greater Manchester Police revisit decades-old case of murdered young couple

May Bulman
Wednesday 14 December 2016 18:12 GMT
Mr Boston, now 75, has been arrested and is now acing trial for the murder of a young couple in 1978
Mr Boston, now 75, has been arrested and is now acing trial for the murder of a young couple in 1978 (Facebook)

A Californian man has been arrested for murdering a young British couple as they travelled the world almost 40 years ago.

Former sailor Silas Duane Boston, now 75, allegedly beat and tied up two young passengers before pushing them overboard attached to heavy machine parts off the coast of Guatemala in 1978.

The bodies of medicial graduate Christopher Farmer, 25, and law graduate Peta Frampton, 24, both from Greater Manchester, were discovered on 8 July 1978, 200 metres from the coast near Punta De Manabique.

Investigations carried out at the time by UK and US officials had amounted to nothing, but the victim's families succeeded in persuading Greater Manchester Police to revisit the murder case last year.

The force’s cold case unit obtained records of the case from the retired detective who had originally investigated the murder, which led them to Mr Boston’s two sons, who had long been estranged from their American father and each other.

Mr Farmer and Ms Frampton had travelled to Australia and the Americas as part of a round-the-world trip to celebrate after their graduation.

The young couple had reportedly written to their parents saying they had met an American skipper called ‘Dwayne’ who had offered to take them from Belize to Mexico.

Ms Frampton’s final letter, dated 18 July 1978, reportedly ended with the words: “Enough of the future. I don’t think there’s any more news - nothing much happens on a boat. Lots of love Peta.”

Two badly decomposed bodies of a man and a woman were later found floating in the sea around 200 metres from the beach off the small peninsula Punta De Manabique.

The man’s body was reportedly attached to a ‘shock block’ — part of a car engine — by a 15m length of string, with a "bullet hole in his right leg and signs of torture", according to the volunteer fire fighters who recovered the bodies.

The fire fighters are also reported to have said the body of the woman had been bound and was also attached to a car engine part, which was resting on the bottom of the sea.

Both bodies were buried in Guatemala but were only identified using dental records a year later.

Mr Boston had reportedly denied murdering the couple when contacted by the UK consulate general in San Francisco, claiming the pair had disembarked because his boat had required repairs.

According to the court documents, Mr Farmer’s father Charles also managed to speak to Mr Boston in a phone call, during which the skipper said he didn’t know what had happened to the couple, saying: “Let me know if you hear anything about them.”

But Mr Boston’s own sons now say they witnessed their father murder the couple.

Vince Boston, aged 13 at the time, alleged his father struck Mr Farmer to the back of the head with a wooden “billy club” as the young man is said to have cried: “What’s your game? What’s your game?”

When his girlfriend emerged from the galley, Mr Boston is alleged to have threatened to shoot her with a spear gun, according to the criminal complaint lodged in the US.

Mr Boston tried to stab the medic in the chest with a fillet knife but the blade broke and his father then bound his two passengers with ropes, according to his son.

The skipper then “hog-tied” his passengers at the rear of the boat and put plastic bags over their heads before pushing first Mr Farmer and then Ms Frampton overboard, followed closely by the machine parts to which they were attached by a length of rope, it was claimed.

Mr Boston was arrested at his home in Paradise, California, and now faces trial in the US.

A spokeswoman for GMP said: “Greater Manchester Police Cold Case Unit have been working with the families of Christopher Farmer and Peta Frampton for over a year since relatives asked us to reinvestigate these tragic events.

“Since that time, we have worked closely with Interpol, Sacramento Police Department, the FBI and the U.S. District Attorney’s office.

“The families of both Chris and Peta now await the outcome of a trial and would ask for privacy in the meantime.”

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