Corpses of U.S. Couple Killed in St. Maarten to be Handed Over

A man arrested in connection with the stabbing deaths of an American couple in the Dutch Caribbean nation of St. Maarten will appear before a judge Tuesday as authorities determine whether there is sufficient evidence to keep him in custody.

Meanwhile, the bodies of Michael and Thelma King of South Carolina will likely be handed over to family members Tuesday, officials said.

Autopsies were performed Monday on the couple, found stabbed to death in their St. Maarten home, the island's solicitor general said.

Their bodies were discovered Friday at their oceanfront residence in Cupecoy, in what St. Maarten's Solicitor General Taco Stein described as "an ugly scene."

The suspect was arrested Sunday. No charges have been filed against anyone so far in the case.

"There are strong indications he is involved in the crime," Stein said Monday of the suspect, without divulging details.

Identifying him only by his initials M.K.J., the St. Maarten Public Prosecutor's office described the suspect in a Monday news release as a 28-year-old, Jamaican-born man.

The prosecutor's office said the suspect "heavily resisted his arrest," engaging in a confrontation that ended with both him and a police officer "wounded." After being treated at an area hospital, the man was taken to a police station.

"He has been cooperative to a certain extent, but was reluctant to answer critical questions," the prosecutor's office said.

The suspect's attorney, Brenda Brooks, said she met with her client Monday at a police station in St. Maarten's capital Philipsburg, where he is being held. He had signs of a "beating," according to Brooks.

St. Maarten is a self-governing country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands, whose economy is based on the tourism industry. More than 1 million tourists visit the island each year.

Stein, who was once solicitor general for Aruba, said authorities "are not certain of the motive in the case."

"Some things are missing" from the King's home, but there were no signs of a break-in, he said.

The killings occurred in what is "generally considered a safe area" that is popular with tourists, according to the solicitor general.

"This is something that does not happen every day," he said.

Results from the autopsies on Michael and Thelma King will be discussed by prosecutors and police, but they will not be released to the public "in the interest of the investigation," the public prosecutor's office said Monday.

In addition to Tuesday's court hearing, forensic experts and prosecutors will meet with a representative of the Dutch Forensic Institute to discuss material "secured during this investigation," the office said.

The suspect and the slain couple didn't appear to know each other, said Stein, noting they "were not moving in the same circles."

Topper Daboul, a restaurant owner in the area, said he was a friend and business partner of the Kings.

"They were beautiful people," he said, adding he is "still in shock." "They were kind to everybody."

Zane Jackson offered a similar story and sentiment in an interview with CNN affiliate WIS.

Describing himself as a friend and business partner of the Kings, who helped him open a sports bar in Columbia, South Carolina, Jackson said, "They'd have given anything to anybody."

"It just seems very senseless," he said. "They were good people."

By Erin B 09/25/2012 01:16:00