Dead in the Water by Penny Farmer (Paperback)

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This is the true and horrifying account of the brutal torture and murder of the author’s brother and his long-time girlfriend forty years ago. In July 1978, two bodies were found in the sea off the coast of Guatemala, and proved to be the remains of Dr Chris Farmer and his lawyer girlfriend, Peta Frampton, young graduates, aged twenty-five and twenty-four, from Greater Manchester. After suffering a three-day ordeal in which they were tortured, they were then thrown overboard while still alive from the yacht on which they had been crewing, their bodies weighted down with heavy iron engine parts and their heads covered in plastic bags. For nearly forty years, no one was charged with these savage murders, even though the name of the yacht, the Justin B., and its owner, an American named Silas Duane Boston, were known.

            But this is also the story of how Chris’s sister, journalist Penny Farmer, and her family, tracked down the killer and assembled the evidence against him, leading to the arrest of Boston in California in December 2016.  At the age of 76, he was charged with two counts of maritime murder. He pleaded not guilty, but amongst the evidence that Chris Farmer’s family, the police forces in both the UK and the USA, as well as the FBI and Interpol, had so patiently collected, was the shocking eyewitness testimony of both of Boston’s two sons who, aged thirteen and twelve, had been present when the murders took place.

            Regrettably, Boston will now never face justice, for he effectively took his own life in prison in April 2017. But for the families of Chris and Peta, they have at least the satisfaction of knowing that, through their own efforts over many years, this Californian serial killer did not escape being made to face his crimes.

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