In Bocas del Toro, we had met a cool couple from Houston. Shane and Shana were traveling Panama on their 10-day vacation and we’re trying to figure out where to go next. We told them we were heading off to Boquete the next day, and offered them a ride. So again, we were glad to have some passengers and easily fit 5 in the bus.

Boquete was named in some retirement publication as a great place for Americans, so we were half-expecting a fully Americanized mountain town. But, apparently the gringos live out of town in giant houses with gardeners, housekeepers and chefs. In town, it still looked like Central America. Also, a few weeks ago there had been a big flood and the town was still cleaning up from that. The river was raging.

There wasn’t much to do in town, but lots of adventure trips you could book if you had the money. Whitewater rafting and canopy tours weren’t on our wish list this time, so we took a few day trips. We found a natural hot spring about 45 minutes away. The landowners had a pet monkey. We also tried to hike to a waterfall, but I think we got the wrong trail.

Remember this guy, who said every gringo in Costa Rica was a pedophile, druggie or low-life? Well, we’re starting to think he’s on to something, except I think they’ve moved on to Panama.

Back in Bocas, we heard the tale of an America recently arrested for multiple murders. He chose victims that no one would report missing (likely on-the-run) and transferred the paperwork of their possessions or businesses to himself. That was, until his last victim, a well-known American business woman in the area. His capture had happened a few weeks before our visit, but it was still big news there.

Here in Boquete, we arrived at our hostel at the same time as the owner from Florida. Clearly there was some tension at the hotel, but we blew it off as the usual Panamanian service. The next night, while we watched football and made sandwiches in the closed kitchen, we got to chatting with the owner and heard quite a tale.

A few years ago, the river flooded and did a lot of damage to the area. The owner worked for 2 months trying to repair the damage. Alongside him, a new friend Dennis worked day and night. At the end of this, the owner entrusted Dennis with managing his hostel while he took his family back to Florida to deal with the damage from the latest hurricane there.

For 2 years, Dennis had made the deposits into the bank account, though the owner suspected there was a lot of money he wasn’t depositing. Busy with the repairs of several rental houses in Key West, he let it slide as the mortgage was paid for and the reviews on TripAdvisor and the like were good.

Cut to a week ago, when he gets an email from a neighbor of the hostel. Dennis had been taken into custody by US Marshals 4 days before. He was charged with skipping bail while waiting on a retrial for a sex with a minor charge (he’d been in jail for this before, and for some reason after 4 years of a 45 year second sentence, they let him out to await a retrial). He skipped bail and fled the country, worked in Costa Rica a while, then moved on to Panama.

Dennis was featured on America’s Most Wanted (under his real name) and a couple from Wisconsin who’d stayed at the hostel tipped off the police. Dennis was dating a young Panamanian girl who also worked at the hostel, but failed to call the owner when he was arrested. She had also gotten her brother on staff as a watchman and her mother working in the kitchen. The kitchen was small, in the back of the hostel and was meant to only serve guests. Dennis turned it into a gringo hang out where old white men would come with their young local girlfriends for breakfast, then stay all day getting drunk. In fact, when we checked in their was an old man stumbling drunk around the lobby. He was yelling ‘Happy Birthday’, so I just figured he’d imbibed a bit too much at a party there, but apparently that’s what he yells everyday when he’s drunk at 4 pm.

The owner closed the restaurant first thing and fired the staff. We got to witness him telling several clients to leave, and the restaurant would be opening for hotel guest only. Every now and then some retiree would walk in to meet his ‘girlfriend’ and was told to beat it. They looked lost.

The owner was quite embarrassed by the shenanigans, and had apologized to all the neighbors and was set to talk to the mayor. He’d lived there for a few years, and had helped coach and sponsor the local little league team, so I think he’s pretty well-loved in the community. Hence, I didn’t want to give his name or the hostel name in the story. Rest-assured, by this time, it is a fine place to stay! And what a great story we heard!

9 thoughts on “Boquete

  • September 21, 2010 at 7:47 AM

    You did a much better account than I did! Have fun, stay safe!

  • September 21, 2010 at 10:08 AM

    FYI – Shana just sent this info along….

    The man, whose real name was Fairly Earls, had been on the run from US authorities for over 4 years. He was a twice convicted sex offender who was released from a 44 year sentence on a technicality. Once released he fled. We missed this guy by only a few days! Check out the full story….

  • September 21, 2010 at 11:42 AM

    More Texans! Sweet!

  • October 14, 2010 at 2:00 PM

    The identity he stold was that of his brother in-law qhich had, along with Fairly’s siter posted the original $25,000.
    It false identity was David Furman.
    He was finally extadited to Wisconsin and bail was set at one million dollars for the sexual assault charges and one hunderd thousand for the 3 counts of bail jumping. It was a shame to hear how he scammed the owner of the hostel & he has been fooling people for many years…. i know because i am the mother of the victim which he is facing the retrial on her case…. she was 6 yrs old and is now 19, this is just an example of the “injustis in our justic system” he won the right to a retrial but that right should be revocked because he proved himself guilty by repeating his crime so many times …even before the 1997 incidents and tehn after his release…that is why he fled to Panama and littered up your beautiful country with his presents. Be glad that he is gone from your country.

  • November 26, 2010 at 4:11 PM

    In regards to your previous post about Costa Rica, it is interesting to note Fairly Earls middle name is Wayne. So your theory holds true.

  • August 20, 2012 at 6:05 PM

    I was happy when they caught him before I caught him. Fairly is straight from hell! He is my father. Last nov. 2011 Fairly was sentenced to 5yrs for bail jumping/flee charge. He is currently in court fighting the molestation charge and could win on account of evidence. I am sorry for all the harm he has caused and if I could get a hold of the owner id like to apologize personally. Fairly fooled me too and I’m pissed off over it. I would love to come visit there in Panama some day because it looks beautiful despite the lil scumbags here and there. Take some photos of the older drunk guys next time and compare them americas most wanted and maybe we can catch some more!

  • September 14, 2012 at 6:40 PM

    There is a new owner now, the old one sold the hostel over a year ago. Fairly had outstanding criminal problems in Boquete when he was arrested. I think he had several felony charges outstanding in the US, not just the one you mentioned. Maybe http://www.boquete.ning could be helpful to provide info on any parole hearings that come up.

  • November 16, 2012 at 2:57 PM

    He wont’t be bothering any more little girls. I was on the jury that just convicted him today of 3 counts of child malestation. I did not know his story outside what was testified in the trial until I did some research. I’m glad we made the right decision

  • November 16, 2012 at 6:22 PM

    Excellent call by you and your fellow jurors. Definitely took a violent thieving sociopath to his reward. The 3 years or so he was in Boquete he committed real estate fraud, internet fraud, theft from at least two hostels he worked for, and a very violent unprovoked assault with a deadly weapon. He did have some contact with children. One would hope that nothing happened with them, but given his history I doubt it.

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