U.S. woman murdered at family compound in Osa

Arrow shows location of murder scene

Someone murdered a 52-year-old U.S. woman on the grounds of her family’s luxury tourist rental on the Osa peninsula.

Friends identified her as Lisa Artz, who was the resident manager of Casa Tres Palmas in upper Matapalo, just south of Puerto Jiménez on the east shore of the Osa peninsula.

The Judicial Investigating Organization said that she was found in a small cabina bound hands and feet with a blanket over her face. Agents presumed she was smothered. Acquaintances said the woman lived in the small cabina, the first structure her family build on the land, because the adjacent 6,000-square-foot structure was rented frequently to vacationers.

Casa Tres Palmas is known as the most luxurious property in the area with a commanding views of the point where the waters of the Gulfo Dulce meet those of the Pacific. Ms. Artz’ father is George Artz, a successful restaurant owner. The family runs Coconuts on the Beach in Cocoa Beach, Florida. The sprawling main house features a Tiki-style villa with a palm thatched roof. The property rents from $300 to $400 a night and sleeps up to 12, said the Casa Tres Palmas Web site.

Judicial police said they were awaiting the results of an autopsy to determine exactly how the woman died. The autopsy also should provide an estimate on when death occurred. Ms. Artz was a frequent visitor, and friends said she arrived in the community last December to serve as manager for the property. The property is 20 kilometers or about 14 miles south of Puerto Jiménez.

An acquaintance said the woman was scheduled to leave Costa Rica for the United States Wednesday.

There has been a wave of criminal activity in the area, including robberies and home invasions. There also is the unsolved February murder of Kimberly Blackwell, 53, a Canadian, in San Miguel de Cañaza near Puerto Jiménez. Ms.
Blackwell was known in the area as the operator of Samaritan Xocolata, which produced high-end chocolate items from Costa Rican cocao.

There also is the case of two Austrian citizens who were residents of Puerto Jiménez. They vanished around Christmas 2009. That case still is open.

Across the gulf in Golfito, the death of an expat there still is an open case. He was Kelly Robert Nutting, 38, who was dumped in the gulf with his hands tied behind him and with a piece of concrete attached to his body. He appears to have been strangled. The U.S. Navy veteran managed his family’s hotel. The murder was in March 2010.

Although there have been sensational rumors, a close examination of all the cases point to individual and personal motives, according to residents of the area and some police investigators. Except for the Artz case, judicial agents seem to know the likely suspects and the individual motives that led to the killing but do not have enough evidence to make an arrest under Costa Rica’s complex penal code. The reasons appear to be different, involve different suspects and have motives that range from revenge to greed to jealousy.

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