A federal grand jury returned an indictment today against Silas Duane Boston, 75, charging him with two counts of first degree maritime murder, U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.
Boston was arrested last week in Paradise, California. He was arraigned today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Carolyn K. Delaney and entered a plea of not guilty.
According to court documents, between June and July 1978, Boston, a U.S. citizen, owned a sailboat named the Justin B., which he sailed throughout the western Caribbean Sea, sometimes taking tourists on various excursions in the area.
The indictment alleges that Boston killed a 25-year-old man and a 25-year-old woman, both originally from Manchester, England, who had chartered his boat.
Boston allegedly bound them, covered their heads with plastic bags, attached weights to their bindings, and pushed them overboard, drowning them.
The bodies were found on about July 8, 1978, off the coast of Punta de Manabique, Guatemala. The investigation into their deaths stalled and eventually the case went cold.
U.S. Attorney Talbert stated: “This case is the product of diligent work by the Sacramento Police Department’s Cold Case Unit, the FBI, and the Greater Manchester Police Department. Kudos are especially due to the Sacramento Police Department’s Cold Case Unit, whose persistent investigative efforts made this prosecution possible.”
“Nothing would have happened if the Sacramento Police Department had not thought to consult with this office about what could be done with a 38-year-old homicide in the Caribbean Sea. We look forward to working with them as the case continues.”
This case is the product of an investigation by the FBI and the Sacramento Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Matthew D. Segal, Heiko P. Coppola, and Jeremy J. Kelley are prosecuting the case.
If convicted, Boston faces a maximum statutory penalty of death or life in prison, but the United States is not seeking the death penalty in this case.
Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables. The charges are only allegations; the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.