Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Top Ten Fugitive Destinations

Costa Rica

Russel Winstead
Russel Winstead

Known for its lush flora and fauna, the small Central American nation of Costa Rica attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists each year. But some who arrive in the coastal paradise are there for more than swimming and birdwatching; they're on the run from the law. Wanted for the stabbing murder of his 87-year-old aunt Anna Mae Branson in Kentucky, Russel Winstead was arrested in a San José casino in 2005 following a tip to America's Most Wanted. After nine months in a Costa Rican jail, Winstead was extradited to the U.S.

Nicholas Himmelsbach
Nicholas Himmelsbach

New Mexico man Nicholas Himmelsbach, 26, accused of assault, child abuse, criminal damage conspiracy to commit murder, was also caught in Costa Rica, where he put up a struggle that caused minor injuries to officers.

PROS: A beautiful landscape and tropical climate can relax the mind and heal the spirits of those plagued by guilt. Hailed as the world's greenest country by the New Economics Foundation, Costa Rica offers a quality of life that surpasses other close-by potential fugitive destinations. English is spoken widely, so law-evaders can feel at home while on the lam.

CONS: According to an Interpol report, 60 foreign fugitives were captured in Costa Rica in 2004, and thanks to cooperation between Interpol and Costa Rican intelligence and security police, the number grows with each year.

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