A former employee has received 50 years in prison in the murder of two Austrian expats on the Osa peninsula. That is the maximum number of years possible under Costa Rican law. The man is Gabriel Rojas Santamaría who had long been a suspect when the two men turned up missing.
The dead men are Horst Hauser, 68 at the time of his death, and Herbert Langmeier, 66, who owned property in Dos Brazos de Río Tigre near Puerto Jiménez. The case attracted international attention because they were missing for more than a year and agents could not move ahead on the case without bodies.
The remains of the men turned up on Playa Ciénaga March 16, 2011, and the discovery helped the investigation to advance.
Rojas was seen driving a vehicle that belonged to one of the men shortly after they were considered missing after Christmas 2009.
The man was acquitted in a first trial on the murder allegation in June 2013. But prosecutors appealed that verdict and won a new trial. In addition to being convicted on the double murder charge, the man also was convicted of theft because he took a tractor belonging to the men.
The Poder Judicial said there was strong evidence against the man. Rojas made 28 transactions at an automatic teller in Puerto Jiménez with credit cards belonging to the dead men and took more than $5,000 according to the Poder Judicial.
The victims died Christmas Day 2009 when their heads were bashed in by a blunt object. There was blood found in the home, but investigators needed a body.
Hauser and Langmeier were long-time residents who were involved in gold panning in the tributaries leading from the Parque Nacional Corcovado on the peninsula.
Hauser was identified from dental records supported by DNA tests after flooding uncovered his resting place.
Agents had trouble locating Rojas because he fled into the wilderness and lived there for a time. He finally was detained in September 2011.