Expat set afire by bandits tells how it happened

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They beat him.

They tied him up.

They fractured his skull in three places.

They stabbed him in the chest three times seeking his heart.

Then they dumped him in the trunk of his car, doused him with gasoline and set him on fire.

And now Mark Lester Metz said: “I rescued myself and stood on my own two feet with three skull fractures, three stab wounds, two broken ribs, a collapsed lung and burnt to hell from mid thigh down.”

Metz is the expat who was lured to a road in Alajuela and set upon by would-be murderers. He said Friday that he has come out of nearly a month-long coma and is now living with family in Florida. He wants to set the record straight because he is unhappy with some of the news stories surrounding his robbery and attempted murder.

Police, judicial investigators and fire fighters issued conflicting reports about the Nov. 7 attack. Metz, in an email, seemed most upset with accounts that fire fighters rescued him from the trunk of his burning car. He said he rescued himself. The more sensational Spanish-language press incorrectly suggested the case was one of drug dealers,

Metz said a man who owed him money called him up one night to arrange a meeting. The man said that he had a present for Metz in appreciation of his waiting so long for repayment. The gift was a custom date planner. This is the rest of the account by Metz:

“I arrived to see his car parked on the side of the road, and as soon as he seen my car pull up behind his some 50 foot he walked over to mine, got in the passenger side and left the door open. He began to show me the date planner book. He made me keeping me looking down at it. A hard knock then came from my window as several men were at it. I, myself, thought it was OIJ because of the way they were dressed and I parked illegally maybe half way in the street.

“As soon as I opened my door, I was clocked in the head with a gun, cracked my skull as well. Then all three men were pointing guns at me and yelling.

The man who invited him to the meeting got out of the car as the men got in, and one got into the back seat, said Metz, continuing:

“I was hit in the head a second time once again making a second crack in my head. Then I was pulled into the back seat by all the men there. My cash I had in my pockets was taken and my watch and glasses. The watch wasn’t the best but worth 1,000 U.S. dollars and I had . . . about 1,000 dollars in my pocket.

“I was hit a third time in the head as the men then started to drive off in the car. They took me to a house where I was hogtied then kicked and beaten while they wanted more money, and I had no more.

“They then picked me up by the hogties and put me into the trunk of the car and drove off again. I . . . prayed they were just going to dump me some place with a good old ass whooping. As the car stopped, the trunk opened and, before I could beg them to just let me go, I was stabbed three times into the chest. They were trying to stab me in the heart to kill me. The trunk closed and car drove off once again.

“At that point I realized I wasn’t just going to be beaten, I was to be killed. I picked at the knots that tied my hands and feet and the hogtie knot. The hogtie came loose, and the car stopped once again, trunk opened and gas was splashed on me. Then the guy lit me on fire and closed the trunk.

“Within a second I kicked the safety latch in the trunk, and it opened, and I pogo flopped my self out of the trunk onto the ground. I lay still while on fire not knowing where they were. I looked around slowly and saw they were gone, so I rolled myself to the road edge into muck to put out the flames. Because majority the fire was to my lower body, the rope tying my legs was burnt off, but my hands were still tied. I quickly got away from the car thinking it might explode.

“I walked to the first house I saw and tried to call for help, not knowing how bad I was. My lung was collapsed and hands still tied. I did what I could. I sat there kicking for well over 30 minutes.

As time went, I lacked the energy to walk to a different house and thought it best to stay close to the burning car for the fire department, when they showed they drove past me and went to the car. A local man found me, and I asked him for a cigarette. The fire department then came over to me and called paramedics.”

Metz identified in his account the man who lured him to the meeting. That man was involved the entire time and didn’t want to go to jail and that’s why they thought it best to kill me, said Metz. “By doing all this, it would of got him out of the debt with me and got the other guys paid. . . with the cash I had on me. . . .”

This is the real story, said Metz as he said he thought all involved would face 12 to 18 years in prison for attempted murder.

The Judicial Investigating Organization, that Metz called by the Spanish acronym OIJ, detained two men and a woman in mid-December. The men received preventative detention, but the woman was set free to sign in with prosecutors once every 15 days. She was identified as the girlfriend of one of the men.

Metz did not mention a woman, but it is believed that she was the occupant of the house where he was tied up.

Metz also says four men were involved in the attack. Judicial agents identified just three persons by the last names of Ricon Gallega, a 30-year-old Colombian, Brown Vega, a 43-year-old Costa Rican and Ugalde Vasquez, the 40-year-old Costa Rican woman. More arrests are possible.

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