Holbert
William Holbert (L) and Laura Reese (R) being escorted by Panamanian special forces and Interpol agents at Albrook International Airport in Panama City July 29, 2010.REUTERS/Alberto Lowe

An American man and his ex-wife have been jailed for a total of 73 years for the murders of five fellow US citizens at a hostel they ran on a Caribbean holiday resort.

William Dathan Holbert, nicknamed 'Wild Bill', and his former wife Laura Reese killed four adults and a teenager and buried them at the hostel on the idyllic Bocas del Toro archipelago.

Holbert, originally from Hendersonville, North Carolina, was sentenced to 47 years in prison for the killings whilst Reese, was handed a 26-year jail term.

It was reported that in August 2010 the bodies of two adults were found buried in the grounds of the hostel owned by Holbert and a full investigation was launched.

Holbert was already on the run from US authorities after he sold a $200,000 (£155,000) home he did not own and a car which he had also stolen.

After the gruesome discovery, police found three further bodies, that of a man, woman and child belonging to the same family.

Holbert and Reese, who had changed their surname in Panama using the alias Cortez, were arrested in Nicaragua several weeks later trying to enter Costa Rica, the Associated Press (AP) reported.

It was stated by prosecutors at the time of his arrest that Holbert had admitted killing all five people and had explained why.

According to Nick Foster in his book The Jolly Roger Social Club, the larger-than-life Holbert had used steroids and wore a horned Viking hat on party nights.

The drinking club of the book's title, had a tagline: "over 90 percent of our members survive", he wrote in the Daily Telegraph.

It was judged that Holbert murdered Mike Brown, a US ex-pat who was trying to sell his home his wife and his son, and took possession of their home.

It was reported that the killer knew that anyone who takes hold of a property's documents becomes the legal owner in Panama.

He was also convicted of killing Cheryl Lynn Hughes, originally from St Louis, Missouri who ran a small hotel in Panama, and Bo Icelar, from Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Before fleeing to central America Holbert, had been pursued across by police across half a dozen states, it was reported.