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These stories were published Wednesday, July 23, 2003, in Vol. 3, No. 144
Jo Stuart
About us
A.M. Costa Rica photo

A woman and child get up close and personal with the pigeons at the Plaza de la Cultura Tuesday.

Neither probably has seen the 1963 Alfred Hitchcock thriller "The Birds," where savvy creatures gang up on a California town.

Vendors sell little bags of corn that are certain to win friends among the vast pigeon population that roosts in the nearby Teatro Nacional at night.

Our advice: Feed them some corn. Or watch out!

Country mourns two more murdered children
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A man took a knife to his female companion Tuesday, stabbed her fatally and then killed the couple’s two daughters in a low-income section of Goicoechea, according to police.

The crime is one of three separate killings Monday night and Tuesday and the fifth since Sunday night. 

The triple murder Tuesday took place in the precario Triangulo de Solidaridad in San Gabriel de Calle Blancos, A precario is a do-it-yourself informal subdivision of modest homes. The area is north and east of San José.

Dead are María Martínez Pichardo, about 30, and her two daughters, Johana, 3, and Yorleny, 4, according to Fuerza Pública officers.

Detained was Jhonathan González Alvarado, about 20, the suspect in the bloody killings, said police. 

The woman filed a complaint against the man, and police took him out of the house last July 11, they said. The action was before the Juzgado de Violencia Doméstica of the II Circuito Judicial de San José.

A court spokesman said that the case file shows that the pair had been living together for about five years and that González was the father of the two girls. Ms. Martínez also has four children in Nicaragua, said neighbors.

A judge issued a restraining and no-contact order against González as a result of the complaint, but the man moved back into the home Friday or Saturday in an effort to make a reconciliation, the court spokesman said. The woman consented to this development, according to neighbors.

The woman’s body was found on the porch of the house where she had struggled to get help from neighbors. The two children were one atop the other in a corner on the floor of the dwellings only bedroom. All had multiple stab wounds from what police said was a kitchen knife. The presumed weapon was recovered.

Lenín Jiménez, chief of the Fuerza Pública in Tibás said that there had been no further complaints from the women, according to the Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública. However, the man was highly 

aggressive when police put him in handcuffs Tuesday, they reported.

Neighbors said a fight developed because the man, who was unemployed, wanted money the woman was about to send to support her daughters in Nicaragua. She worked at a soda, a small lunch place, and also sold food in the street, said neighbors.

The murder comes at a time when concern for children is running strong in Costa Rica in the wake of the death of Katia Vanesa González Juárez, 8, who was strangled July 4 in the home of a neighbor.

Legislators are considering stronger penalties for those who kill children in the wake of a march by some 5,000 persons Friday morning.

Two adult males also died at the hands of murderers Tuesday. 

Eduardo Castro Flores, 27, was gunned down as he parked his vehicle near the home of his girl friend Monday night in Purral de Guadalupe. Paramedics took him to Hospital Calderón Guardia where he died about 1 a.m. Tuesday from bullets in his head and chest, according to the Judicial Investigating Organization.

In Alajuela security guards at a business near the airport heard gunshots about 4:30 a.m. Tuesday and then found Luis Fernández Gómez sprawled on the public right-of-way still wearing a motorcycle helmet, according to the Judicial Investigating Organization. Agents speculate that robbers took his motorcycle.

Earlier this week:

About 9 p.m. Sunday three men stuck up a video game store in Alajuela and killed Guillermo Herrera Martínez who was minding the store for a friend. 

Earlier Monday, about 7 a.m., a car full of armed men stopped a pickup being driven by Wilbert Segura Rodríguez, 42, in la Marina de San Carlos and slightly wounded his girlfriend.

Last Wednesday, the issue of child deaths was reinforced again when an angry father took revenge on a mother by throwing their 1-year-old son, Armando Arias Sánchez, into a brook where he drowned, said investigators. Huber Delfín Villareal Manzanares, 19, was held.

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Costa Rican pedophile profile seems to be flawed
By Jay Brodell
editor of A.M. Costa Rica

A profile released by officials Thursday of supposed child molesters seems to be at odds with current thinking on the topic and is heavily biased against males.

A review of literature available on the Internet shows that Costa Rica’s official profile does not find much support in police or academic circles elsewhere.

The profile, which enraged some North Americans living here, seems to be just another example of the scattergun approach officials have taken in the wake of public outcry about child murders.

Although President Abel Pacheco is a psychiatrist, it is not known how much, if anything, he contributed to the creation of the profile.

An analysis

The profile singled out men living alone who have little relationships with their neighbors with an attitude of protection toward children, among other characteristics. Officials attribute the profile to the Instituto de Criminología of the Judicial Investigating Organization.

The profile also says that such individuals have a great interest in participating in games with children and frequently touch children. The profile also says that such persons involve themselves in organizations dedicated to children.

Several North Americans here pointed out that as language-challenged single men who like sports, they fit the profile perfectly. Costa Ricans were urged to call 911 emergency telephone operators to report such individuals in their neighborhood.

But a popular U.S. author on the subject, a former television producer who studied the phenomenon, said:

"Pedophiles possess no tidy criminal profile. They come from all walks of life. Some are married, some single; some professional, some blue-collar; some young, some retired. Some prefer boys, and some prefer girls. Some are attracted to young children, others to older children. In short, pedophilia, or sexual attraction to children by an adult, is a sickness that does not discriminate by race, class, or age. It knows no bounds, and afflicts people in every segment of society." 

That was the words of Kenneth Wooden, who wrote "Child Lures Parent Guide: How to Keep Your Child Safe From Exploitation, Abduction, Drugs & School Violence," which also is available in Spanish. 

Studies of pedophiles also draw a sharp distinction between molesters, who generally do not mean their victims harm, and child rapists seeking sexual gratification at the expense of the child. The Costa Rican profile makes no such distinction.

The Costa Rica profile also makes no mention of the serious problems the Catholic Church has had and is having with pedophile priests. Some cases even have surfaced in Costa Rica.

A South Carolina case does not seem to fit the Costa Rican profile where the suspect was a 31-year-old, well-known lawyer in the community. However, a spokesperson for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children there said the suspect fit the classic profile of a child molester, enticing children and plying them with liquor and pornography before seducing them, according to The State newspaper. Costa Rican officials had help from a new branch of the same organization in drawing up their profile.

In a June 2002 publication, "The Child Molester: A review article," two clinical psychologists from University of the Free State in South Africa surveyed the current academic and clinical literature. They said that a bias exists in singling out males. "The common perception of [child sexual abuse] considers the majority of offenders to be males who sexually abuse females/girls. Studies on females who sexually abuse are rarely performed. Until recently, abuse by females was thought not to exist." 

The researchers said that underreporting of female abusers was due to a gender bias in favor of women, in part because male victims are less likely to disclose the acts. There also is a  lower index of suspicion because the female is viewed as a caretaker and their behavior is seen as seductive or inappropriate nurturance rather than abusive or criminal. 

Female child abusers did not differ from male perpetrators in terms of the number of victims abused, number of acts per child (five to seven) or the severity of the abuse, but they tended to abuse younger victims, said the researchers.

Bias found in favor of women leads to a decrease in registering and reporting of cases, said the researchers, and bypassing of prosecution may lead to continued abuse and victimization. 

The conclusion:

"Identifying child sexual abusers using multiple analytic tools and describing biological, socio-cultural and psychological aetiological components have been attempted without success. This is due to the demographic, behavioural and psychological heterogeneity of child molesters."

Another author, Julie Posey, said "There isn't a real profile for sex offenders. They can be male or female, come from any racial background, any social background and any economic background. They range in age from 10-80."

The Christian Science Monitor, a respected U.S. daily newspaper, reported last July that the number of abductions in the United States have decreased dramatically because children have been better educated to avoid those who would abduct them. 

RACSA-linked site will accept child porno complaints online
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Radiográfica Costarricense S.A., the internet monopoly, has linked an Internet page where computer users can file a complaint against Web sites that promote child pornography. 

The Web page is linked directly to RACSA’s homepage and is said to be sponsored by the Patronato Nacional de la Infancia and the Agenda Nacional. The Agenda is a mix of private and public organizations that seeks to create an agenda for children and youth through the year 2010, according to the site.

The page also contains a space where a computer user can fill in the address or an offending Web site. The person making the complaint does not have to give his or her name. In fact, there is no space for a name.

There is no explanation of what will happen when someone files a complaint. RACSA has said it will block sites that contain child pornography. 

However, the administration of Abel Pacheco seems to speak of child pornography and pornography available to children the same way.

Child pornography is obscene depictions of children or drawings or other devices to simulate children. However, the administration has embarked on an effort to keep Internet pornography of whatever description out of the computers of children. RACSA on the same Web page offers filtering software for parents.

Pacheco announced Monday that children will be restricted from visiting Internet cafes after certain evening hours depending on the child’s age.

The Agenda Web site characterizes child pornography and sexual exploitation of children as violence against children.

The RACSA homepage contains a description of filters and what it considers to be the problems of the Internet for children, including unsolicited messages on taboo subjects.

More dengue cases
found this year

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Rican health officials are gearing up for a public relations campaign Thursday against dengue, the mosquito-born disease that can be a killer.

The disease is fast approaching an epidemic with more than 5,400 cases reported to date this year, some 2,000 more than last year, said María del Rocío Sáenz, minister of Salud.

Hard hit are Puntarenas, Limón, Nicoya and the Osa Peninsula area. Places like Grecia, Santa Ana and Alajuela, which usually are not prone to the disease, have cases this year, as does San José proper, health officials said.

A handful of the case are of the hemorrhagic type that may be fatal.

The incident of disease can be decreased by eliminating the water where the mosquito lays its eggs and the larva grows. Thursday will be dedicated to eliminating these breeding spots, including things like old cans and tires.

One contributor to the increase in the disease is the Central Valley custom of not putting screens on windows. As a result, many Costa Ricans are exposed at night to mosquitoes.

Drug suspect held
on old U.S. charge

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Investigators arrrested a man they said is a fugitive from California justice in Cacao near Golfito Tuesday.

The man was identified as Charles Lyle Cohea, a U.S. citizen wanted to face trial on charges of narcotrafficking and possession of firearms. He is a 

Charles Lyle Cohea
fugitive from the Superior Court in Contra Costa, Calif., said investigators in a news release.

The charges against Cohea are nine and 10 years old and involve raids at his home where police said they found a laboratory for the production of methamphedamine and chemicals consituents. 

A rifle also was found, generating the 

possession of firearms charge, investigators said.

When police raided his home in 1994, they found gear that linked him to the Hell’s Angels motorcycle gang, they said. The Hell’s Angles is known as a major distributor of narcotics.

Cohea faced justice once before when he was charged with unpremeditated homicide in 1983 after the torso of a police informer was found on his property, said investigators. They did not say what the outcome was of that charge.

Cohea has lived in San José and Quepos as well as the community of Cacao, said investigations. He came here for the first time in 1993 and was in the process of gaining residency through marriage to a Costa Rican woman, they said.

The arrest Tuesday was made by agents of the International Police Agency (INTERPOL), the Judicial Investigating Organization and the agents of Migración in Golfito, said the release.

Sidewalk prostitution
targeted in proposal

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Prostitution is tolerated in Costa Rica, but if Juan José Vargas, a national deputy, has his way, soliciting would be forbidden on the public streets.

A number of prostitutes, including transvestites, conduct business from streets and corners in San José and other major cities.

If the law proposed by Vargas is passed, the prostitutes would be subject to a fine or three months in jail for being repeat offenders.

The law, presented to the Comisión Permanente de Asuntos Sociales, also would call for more state control, designation of an area where prostitutes could work and efforts to change their lifestyles.

Five with false papers
found by immigration

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Immigration officials said they found five illegal workers in the last two weeks who were using false work documents.

The Policía de Migración arrested the five in operations in Montezuma at the foot of the Nicoya Peninsula July 12 and also in San José last weekend, the said. The individuals involved were Peruvian and Argentines. Because they had false papers they were deported immediately, said immigration officials.

The Dirección de Migración y Extranjeria said that potential employers can check the validity of any work permits presented to them by contacting the appropriate immigration department at 220-1860.


U.S. FTC cracks down
on phony AOL site

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Federal Trade Commission announced July 21 that it will settle charges against an individual who the agency says devised an online scheme to deceive customers into providing private financial information.

The FTC calls this sort of online fraud "phishing," and it violates U.S. law. In this case, the agency alleges that the individual — an underage, unidentified minor — sent e-mail to customers of the widely used Internet service provider America Online. The e-mail advised the customers that AOL needed to update payment information, and directed them to use a hyperlink to reach a Web page. 

When the customers followed the hyperlink, they were directed not to an AOL page, but one mocked up, using AOL logo and graphics. Customers thought they were conducting an online transaction with their Internet service provider, the FTC alleges, but they were actually giving private credit card numbers to the scammer. 

"Phishing is a two time scam," said Timothy J. Muris, chairman of the FTC. "Phishers first steal a company's identity and then use it to victimize consumers by stealing their credit identities. This is the FTC's first law enforcement action targeting phishing. It won't be the last."

An FTC press release says the individual has agreed to a settlement in which he is forever barred from sending unsolicited e-mail, and will sacrifice the $3,500 falsely obtained in the scheme. 

The FTC offers a publication entitled "How Not to Get Hooked by a Phishing Scam" available here.
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We are counting on some funny stories
It's time to tickle that funnybone if you have one
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Rica is a land of contradictions, and contradiction is one of the chief concepts of humor.

So now is a time to gently explore our foibles in the mid-winter humor contest sponsored by A.M. Costa Rica marking the second birthday of our Internet daily newspaper.  (Yes, it is "winter’ in Costa Rica.)

Send your humorous writings for publication to:


Make your fellow readers laugh and win great prizes, such as:

• water skiing at Lake Poas.

• annual subscriptions to A.M. Costa Rica

• sunbathing expeditions to the sand dunes of Quepos

• Whale-watching expeditions at the patio of the Gran Hotel Costa Rica

• A night of guaro excess with the A.M. Costa Rica editor (your treat).

Any money prizes will be paid in post-dated checks.

We expect to have some famous judges. At least we will have judges.


Consider the possibilities:

• The Escazú Witch Project
• Fear and Loathing in Santa Ana
• Waiting for Enrique
• How Would You like to be President for a Day?
• The Attack of the 100-foot-tall ICE
• The Return of the Arias.
• The Taxista Always Rings Twice
• Mr. Smith Goes to Arbitration

But you can do better than that. The important thing is to be funny. You can use satire or straight humor. But you must write about Costa Rica. (George Bush is out. We can’t make this too easy.)

Your stories can be true, but exaggeration is a tool of humor. We will publish the good ones as fiction.

Some people say our readers cannot possibly top what really has been happening in Costa Rica. But we have faith.

Our second birthday is Aug. 15, and that’s the deadline.

Now some folks will be upset with us, thinking that we are picking on them. These are the folks who are humorously challenged. Why should we take the credit for them being so funny? Nevertheless, if you wish to send us hate mail or death threats, please do not clog up the editor’s mailbox like before. Send your hate mail or death threats to:


Let the contest begin.

A hellish tale of two nationalities
Submitted by Andy Gingold
of Ciudad Colón

Once upon a time, at the Pearly Gates, a Costa Rican and a German, who had died at the same moment, were confronted by Saint Peter.

 "You both have sinned the same amount in your lives." said St. Peter, "You both must suffer the same punishment before you can enter heaven. Both of you must go to Hell for one year. 

"You, German, must go to the German hell. 

Our second story

"You, Costa Rican, must got to the Costa Rican hell. Your punishments will be the same. You will both have buckets of human excrement poured on you, 24 hours a day, every day, for the entire year. Then you can come back to the Pearly Gates and enter Heaven."
A year goes by and the German crawls up, covered with puss and open sores and caked with human excrement all over his body. The Costa Rican calmly walks up, no worse-for-ware than the first time he approached St. Peter the year before.

 "How can this be?" says the German. "I was forced to lie in one place all year and buckets of human waste were poured on me constantly. You look exactly like you looked a year ago!"

 "Well," says the Costa Rican, "when they had the bucket, they didn’t have any waste. When they had the waste, they couldn’t find the bucket, and when they had the bucket AND the waste, it was always a holiday."

 After all, it was Costa Rican Hell.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We cleaned this up slightly. But you get the idea. Mr. Gingold says he did not create this tale but wrote the story.

What we published this week: Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Earlier
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