In October of 2011, Brian Brimager, a newly retired Marine, was secretly carrying on two relationships in two countries with two women who each looked forward to spending the rest of their lives with him, according to a federal indictment.
To Yvonne Baldelli, 41, of Carlsbad, Calif., who’d recently lost her job at Procter & Gamble, Brimager was the charming musician who gave her a fresh start, whisking her away to a small island in the Bocas Del Toro province of Panama, says the indictment.
But when Baldelli’s back was turned, Brimager would e-mail Kristin Werkhoven, 32, of Vista, Calif., who’d given birth to their daughter the previous year, and promise that they’d be together within a few weeks, according to the indictment.
Brimager, 37, resolved this quandary, prosecutors contend in the indictment, by killing Baldelli two days after Thanksgiving, covering his tracks, and then flying back to the United States to be with Werkhoven, whom he married on New Year’s Eve.
The alleged plan unraveled after Baldelli failed to attend a family reunion and her family reported her missing in January of 2012. By the time her remains turned up in late August of 2013 in a green, military-style backpack in a Panamanian jungle, U.S. prosecutors had already gathered enough evidence against Brimager back in June to have him jailed without bail.
He faces 11 charges including obstruction of justice and making false statements to officers in connection with Baldelli’s disappearance. The indictment doesn’t charge Brimager with murder; it would be up to Panama to file such a charge, although the countries could work together to try Brimager in the United States on a murder charge.
Father Speaks Out
Baldelli’s father tells PEOPLE the recent discovery of her remains marks the end of a long, difficult search, and will hopefully help prompt Panamanian authorities to charge Brimager with murder.
James Faust adds, however, that he still doesn t understand why his daughter had to die. “Someone that evil, I just can’t get into his mind,” Faust told PEOPLE.
At Brimager’s detention hearing in June, U.S. Magistrate Judge William V. Gallo told Brimager, “You have a very conniving, deceptive mind and would stop at almost nothing to cover your tracks.”
According to the federal indictment, Brimager fought with Baldelli in the weeks before her death, leaving her with bruises around her eyes and on her arms.
At the same time, he wrote in e-mails to Werkhoven, his mother and a Marine friend that he “was getting bored with life in Bocas” and was planning to return to California. He never mentioned Baldelli in the e-mails.
Prosecutors Present E-Mail Evidence
Federal prosecutors contended at the detention hearing that the fights apparently started after Baldelli found out that Brimager had a child with another woman.
On Nov. 27, 2011, Brimager used Baldelli’s laptop to conduct two searches: “washing mattress” and then, “washing mattress blood stain,” the indictment says.
Once Baldelli was dead, the indictment says, Brimager got rid of all of her belongings and impersonated her in e-mails to friends and family, writing that she had traveled with another man to Costa Rica.
The indictment says Brimager went so far as to stop off in Costa Rica on his way back to the U.S. and withdraw $200 from Baldelli’s bank account to further the ruse that she was alive and living in Costa Rica.
The indictment says Brimager continued the ruse in the U.S., still pretending to be Baldelli and writing e-mails to Baldelli’s sister saying she was fine and “missed talking to mom.”
Brimager’s defense attorney, Brad Patton, could not be reached Friday for a comment. Brimanger has pleaded not guilty to the U.S. charges and is being held without bail.
In the detention hearing in June, Patton said Brimager has an outstanding record as a Marine and was in a stable, non-abusive marriage, and that his wife – who once worked at the White House – had just given birth to their second daughter.
According to The Washington Post, Werkhoven was a Bush Administration correspondence analyst.