US forensic team hired by 48 Hours questions conviction of Anne Bender
By Perez Zeledon Community Reporter, Carol Vaughn
Editor’s note: Inside Costa Rica provided extensive coverage of both the first trial and retrial of Anne Maxine Patton. Click here for an archive of our coverage of the case.
August 29th, 2014 (InsideCostaRica.com) What if you heard a tale of a mysterious murder/suicide in an 8,000-square foot glass mansion, with 550 Tiffany lamps, 3,000 loose rubies, diamonds, and sapphires, a helipad, and a moat separating it from one of the world’s most rugged jungles – would you think this was a movie script, or the plotline of a pulp fiction novel?
It happens to all be true, and it happens to have taken place in Perez Zeledon, Costa Rica.
On January 8th, 2010, multimillionaire John Bender died of a single gunshot wound to his head. His wife Ann claims that she awoke to find her husband in bed, naked, with a gun pointed at his head, and when she attempted to wrestle the gun from his hands, it discharged and killed him. Authorities had their doubts, and convicted Ann of murder in a retrial.
CBS “48 Hours” sent a famous husband/wife forensic team to Costa Rica to examine the case, and is promising a complete report in its fall television series. Richard and Selma Eikelenboom traveled to Costa Rica to review the case, conduct tests at the couple’s mansion, and evaluate the evidence against Ann Bender as the murderer. The pair concluded that the evidence supported Mrs. Bender’s account of the case more than the Prosecution’s.
To further complicate matters, the Benders were both bipolar, and John had attempted suicide at least one previous time. Ann is suffering from Lyme disease as well as bipolar disorder, and has been in and out of psychiatric hospitals since the incident.
The Benders were reported to have been worth $600 million dollars, and had come to Costa Rica to establish a wildlife reserve in La Florida de Baru, which they called “Boracayan”. The story of their strange reclusive lifestyle, their many legal battles in Costa Rica, and their apparent worsening mental health should make for some shocking television this fall.
Carol Vaughn is an Inside Costa Rica Community Reporter covering Perez Zeledon.
Carol Vaughn holds a Master’s Degree in Performing Arts and is retired from a career as a tap dancer and teacher. She moved to Costa Rica two years ago from Washington, DC, and settled into a cabin on the banks of the Quebradas River in Perez Zeledon.
She also blogs for AngloINFO and is a volunteer Warden for the US Embassy for Perez Zeledon, helping out fellow Americans in emergencies.