'After 37 Years I Caught My Brother's Killer on Facebook'


Social media has all sorts of dangers. I mean, I can’t think of anyone who would say that the self-contained universes of Facebook, Twitter, and their ilk are immune from risk.

Cyberstalking. Financial fraud. Bullying. Misinformation. The internet is full of all these and more.

Yet the very characteristics that make social media so troublesome can sometimes lead to great good. Just ask British citizen Penny Farmer.

The Sun reported Farmer’s brother Christopher and his girlfriend Peta Frampton decided to travel the world in 1977.

According to the BBC, Penny Farmer was only 17 when they embarked on their trip.

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It was a more innocent time, a period where hitchhiking was considered more or less safe. Yet Christopher and Peta’s story didn’t have a happy ending.

Though the couple always wrote whenever they could, gaps in communication were inevitable. One day, though, all contract dried up — and never started again.

The last news anyone had heard had come from Peta, who’d written her family to say that she and Christopher had met an American with two sons while traveling abroad. They’d planned to travel with him on a fishing boat to Honduras.

“Nothing much happens on a boat,” Peta had written. Then she and Christopher had vanished.

Authorities traced their trail to a man named Silas Boston, the very same man who’d set sail with the couple. However, he had returned alone.

The police believed he’d done something horrible to the pair, but they had no proof. Then in July 1978, Christopher and Peta’s bodies were found floating near the Guatemalan coast.

Without getting too much into the grisly details, let me say that they’d been restrained and weighed down with engine parts before being tossed into the deep. The case went cold after that, yet Farmer never forgot Silas Boston’s name.

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On Oct. 2, 2015, a thought came to her after returning from a walk: Why not search for Boston on Facebook?

She did — and she found him. Then she reached out to Greater Manchester Police.

The ball began rolling, and British authorities contacted the Sacramento Police Department. Boston had lived in California for a while during the ’70s.

The Sacramento police had begun investigating Boston on a separate charge. They opened old files and found witness statements from Boston’s sons.

Amazingly, the boys had tried for 30 years to convince the authorities that their father had murdered Farmer’s brother and her brother’s girlfriend. Yet as the investigation picked up speed, Boston had one final trick up his proverbial sleeve.

Being old, in poor health and in a nursing home, the suspected murderer decided that he would never see the inside of a courtroom. He chose to withdraw all medical treatment and died from organ failure.

“Closure is a lovely term, and I do believe that closure only comes when the truth is known,” Farmer said. “My mother is 93 and now has all the answers to the questions that haunted her for 38 years.

“But just because you’ve found answers doesn’t mean you stop hurting. I’m not quite there yet.”

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A graduate of Wheaton College with a degree in literature, Loren also adores language. He has served as assistant editor for Plugged In magazine and copy editor for Wildlife Photographic magazine.
A graduate of Wheaton College with a degree in literature, Loren also adores language. He has served as assistant editor for Plugged In magazine and copy editor for Wildlife Photographic magazine. Most days find him crafting copy for corporate and small-business clients, but he also occasionally indulges in creative writing. His short fiction has appeared in a number of anthologies and magazines. Loren currently lives in south Florida with his wife and three children.
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