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Michael King, Thelma King, Slain US Couple, Being Autopsied By St. Maarten Authorities

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Autopsies are being performed on the bodies of Michael and Thelma King, a South Carolina couple who were found stabbed in their beachfront condominium on St. Maarten.
Autopsies are being performed on the bodies of Michael and Thelma King, a South Carolina couple who were found stabbed in their beachfront condominium on St. Maarten.

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten — Prosecutors in St. Maarten announced Monday that a Jamaican man is the lone suspect in the slayings of a South Carolina couple who were found murdered in their beachfront condominium on the tiny Dutch Caribbean territory.

A Monday evening statement by public prosecutors identified the Jamaican by his initials, M.K.J. It is customary in the Dutch islands' legal system to only refer to criminal suspects by their initials.

The 28-year-old man is so far the only suspect in the slayings of Michael and Thelma King of Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. Their bodies were found Friday in their condominium in the Dutch territory of 50,000 people that shares a small island with the French dependency of St. Martin.

Authorities have said the couple appeared to have suffered fatal stab wounds. The woman was found tied to a chair, and the man was lying on the floor, partially over an overturned chair. They were both in their 50s.

Prosecutors said autopsies were conducted Monday on the bodies of the Kings, but preliminary results will not be publicly released yet. They expect to release the bodies Tuesday to relatives who have arrived in the Caribbean territory.

Prosecutors said the Jamaican suspect "heavily resisted his arrest, wounding a police officer" during a pre-dawn Sunday operation by law enforcers.

"He has been cooperative to a certain extent but was reluctant to answer critical questions," prosecutors said.

It was not clear if the suspect has a lawyer. He is scheduled to be arraigned on Tuesday. Law enforcement officials in Jamaica said Monday evening they were not aware that one of the country's nationals was a double-murder suspect in St. Maarten.

Local law allows for pretrial detention while authorities investigate a crime. Prosecutors have three days after an arrest to present enough evidence to a judge in order to prolong any detention without charges.

The prosecutors' evening statement about the Jamaican man was issued shortly after a local security company announced that one of its Jamaican employees was the suspect in the slayings that have shocked the normally placid 16-square mile Dutch Caribbean territory.

St. Maarten's Checkmate Security company issued a statement to reporters saying that "one of our employees has been suspected in this horrible crime."

The business condemned the slayings and said it has "cooperated in every possible way with the police authorities to solve this crime."

During the last couple of days, people on St. Maarten have been buzzing with rumors that a Jamaican security guard was the murder suspect.

Friends say the Kings were part-time residents of St. Maarten and owned several homes.

Local restaurant owner Topper Daboul has told The Associated Press that he and Michael King, a retired insurance executive, were building a rum factory together on St. Maarten.

Daboul has said he last saw King on Wednesday afternoon and "some other friends had drinks with them that night." He said he wasn't able to reach the Kings on the phone Thursday so he drove to their house the next day and banged on the door. He said he asked a person on the premises to climb over a fence to see if anyone was in the house. Daboul said the person reported a lifeless man leaning over a chair inside the house.

Shortly after the slayings were announced, St. Maarten said "every government resource is being brought into play to investigate and solve this case."

___

Associated Press writer David McFadden contributed to this report from Kingston, Jamaica.

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