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Honduras Cops Link Body, Kidnapping

August 15, 2001

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras (AP) _ Police have recovered what they believe is the body of a retired Connecticut police officer who was kidnapped in northern Honduras last week.

A body tentatively identified as Thomas Francis Giblin was discovered Tuesday in a shallow river near the town of Tulian on Honduras’ Caribbean coast. Authorities had not determined the cause of death.

On Saturday, Giblin was pulled from his unfinished beachfront house outside the nearby town of Puerto Cortes, the U.S. Embassy said. Officials from the embassy said police found enough evidence at the scene of the crime to treat the case as a homicide.

``The body was found in a river near Giblin’s residence,″ police said in a statement released late Tuesday. ``We are conducting a rigorous autopsy.″

The body was discovered just hours after police arrested four employees of Giblin and another man in connection with his alleged kidnapping. Authorities refused to comment on whether the suspects told them where to find the body.

Giblin retired from the Bridgeport, Conn., police department as a lieutenant in 1988, said Joseph Gresko, a spokesman for the city.

He moved to Belize in the 1980s, built a small house on the beach and gradually developed a small hotel, the Serenity Resort, near Placencia.

Police here reported his age as 76, but the U.S. Embassy and friends said he was 64.

A worker at the Serenity Resort, Graham Berrie, said by telephone Tuesday that Giblin had recently sold his interest in the resort and moved to Honduras.

Giblin’s Honduran girlfriend, 24-year-old Leticia Lopez, was also briefly kidnapped, but escaped. She later told authorities that four masked men with machine guns were holding Giblin and demanding a $50,000 ransom.

According to the U.S. embassy, Giblin is the 14th American killed in Honduras since 1997. Embassy officials say they are becoming increasingly frustrated with the country’s police force and criminal justice system.

In an interview with a Honduran television station Tuesday morning, U.S. embassy spokesman Carlos Bakota called Honduras ``a high-risk country in which to live or invest.″

``We are concerned for the security of the 12,000 U.S. citizens who live in the country,″ Bakota said. ``To come to visit, invest or establish residence in this country represents a lot of risk due to the crime and the fragility of the judicial system.″

Honduran Presidential Minister Gustavo Alfaro said Bakota was overreacting.

``The government of President Carlos Flores Facusse has made great progress in combatting common crime,″ Alfaro said.

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