6 people, including 1 American, slain at ranch in Costa Rica

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SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (AP) — Six people, including a U.S. man, were killed in what may have been a robbery at the American’s ranch in Costa Rica, the national detectives’ agency said Monday.

The agency identified the American as Steve Sandusky, but did not offer a U.S. hometown for him.

It said Sandusky was a resident of Costa Rica and owned the ranch in Puntarenas province south of San Jose, the capital. The ranch is about 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) from the nearest public road.

The other five victims are believed to be Costa Rican nationals who Sandusky had asked to come to the ranch to repair agricultural machinery, authorities said. Their families lost contact with them Sunday and went to the ranch to look for them.

The dead include a man, his wife and their 20-year-old son. The bodies of Sandusky and one other victim had been burned; a third had been doused in fuel but not burned. All appeared to have been shot.

Authorities said they are still investigating the killings, but that robbery appears to be a possible motive because Sandusky’s home was ransacked and a window was broken.

The U.S. Embassy said it could not comment on the case because of privacy concerns.

The brutality of the killings shocked Costa Rica, the most peaceful nation in Central America, with a homicide rate of about 11 killings per 100,000 people annually.

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