When Panama authorities found the bodies of Cher Lynn Hughes and Bo Islar buried in William Holbert’s backyard, they immediately put the word out and arrested the suspect and his wife from Costa Rica. However, William’s wife, Laura Michelle Reese, insisted on her innocence and claimed she was not a part of her husband’s crimes.
‘Dateline: Stealing Paradise’ chronicles the horrific double murder and follows the ensuing police investigation that brought the perpetrators to justice. However, if you are intrigued to learn about the details surrounding the case and want to find out where Laura Michelle Reese is at present, we have you covered.
Who Is Laura Michelle Reese?
Laura Michelle Reese met William Holbert for the first time when they both worked in a gym in Saluda, North Carolina. Although William was married at that time, it did not take long for the two to get together and start an affair. Moreover, reports mention that William was looking for the perfect opportunity to divorce his high-school sweetheart and move in with Laura. Interestingly, the gym found out that William had embezzled around $25k from the establishment. Unwilling to face legal action, William divorced his first wife and fled to the island of Bocas del Toro in Panama with Laura Reese.
Around that time, William also married Laura, and the two began running a bar on the island. Shortly after moving to Bocas del Toro, Wiliam and Laura met a group of American ex-pats who lived a wonderful and carefree life on the island. However, intending to hide their real identities, the couple introduced themselves as William “Wild Bill” Adolfo Cortez and his wife, Jane Cortez. As fate would have it, the pair soon built up a close friendship with fellow ex-pat Cher Lynn Hughes, and William even became well-known as a cheerful bar owner who loved throwing loud parties.
Yet, no one had a clue about the sinister secret the two harbored. When Bo Islar went missing in December 2009, many believed he had gone off to build a life on his own. It was normal for Bo to leave without any notice, and sources claimed he was spending his days in Argentina. However, Cher’s disappearance in March 2010 raised numerous red flags as she was a well-loved member of the community. People knew how much Cher enjoyed the island life, and it seemed uncharacteristic of her to leave with a single goodbye.
In the meantime, William took over Cher’s house and turned it into a pad for his parties. People who attended a party shortly after the incident claimed it was surreal to witness people drinking and laughing while the missing woman’s belongings law strewn about. On the other hand, locals and authorities noticed how Cher’s dog kept making its way to William’s house as if it was looking for something important.
By that time, Cher’s family had employed the services of Don Winner, another American ex-pat who ran Panama Guide, a news website for foreigners living in Panama. Don noticed William’s suspicious behavior and asked the police to arrest him for owning a handgun, which is a crime in Panama, in order for the investigation to proceed slowly. However, when authorities approached William’s house, the suspect was nowhere to be found, while authorities dug up Cher and Bo’s bodies from his backyard.
Where Is Laura Michelle Reese Now?
It did not take long for the police to apprehend Laura and William from Costa Rica, and they were extradited to Panama for trial. When questioned, William confessed to the double homicide and claimed he killed Bo and Cher for their properties. However, he further admitted to four other murders, including the deaths of Michael Francis Salem, his wife, and their child.
It was later revealed that William approached Micheal as someone interested in buying his property before murdering the whole family in cold blood. However, quite interestingly, Laura denied having any knowledge about the murders, and she kept insisting on her innocence. In fact, she even put forward an official statement where she denied all links to the murders and claimed to have no idea about her husband’s deeds.
Nevertheless, Laura’s explanation was unsatisfactory, and she faced her own trial in 2017. Thus, while William was convicted of the robbery and homicide of 5 people and sentenced to 47 years in prison, Laura was convicted of her role in the crimes and handed a 26-year prison sentence. Thus, at present, Laura remains behind bars in a Panama prison while waiting for her sentence to end.
Read More: William Holbert: Where is the Killer Now?