I found this case interesting mostly because technically it did not occur in the United States and yet the perpetrator was being tried in a court in San Diego California. Initially he was charged in June of 2013, not for murder, but for charges such as obstruction of justice, giving false statements to a federal officer and falsifying records. In April of 2015 he would be indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of committing a foreign murder of a U.S. National. This is the first time that I had heard of this being done. When it comes to the legal system, whether it is criminal or civil, the number one issue is always jurisdiction. Of course you have cases that are moved to other counties when a change of venue is sought, usually due to fears of not being able to sit an impartial jury. But, I have rare, if ever, seen a case in which a murder occurred in another country and tried here in the United States. The initial charges in this case were however committed on U.S. soil.
In September of 2011 Brian Brimager was dating Yvonne Baldelli and they lived together in California but they had decided to start a new life in Isla Carenero in Panama in Central America. Some of the research indicated that they were simply going on a trip or a vacation but most of the information stated they had planned to live there. The last time Yvonne was seen on the night of November 26, 2011 at a restaurant near where they were living.
For the next two months Yvonne's family would continue to receive emails from who they believed was Yvonne until those emails either were not responded to or they seemed to take on a very different tone. The emails would indicate that she had left Brian, who it appears soon returned to California, with another man and had traveled to Costa Rica. Due to receiving the emails Yvonne would not be reported missing until two months after she had last been seen.
An investigation was launched and Brian's behavior was found to be less than normal. First and foremost what stood out was that it was learned that not long after Yvonne had disappeared and Brian had returned to California he would get married. This was not a marriage in which he met a woman and quickly had a whirlwind romance and they married. It would be discovered that Brian would marry the woman in which he had had a child with previously. The indication was that no one, including Yvonne, had known that this child existed.
It was also discovered that shortly after she had disappeared that Brian had taken money out of her account. It would later be alleged that he obtained this money for drugs and alcohol. However, despite speculation and suspicions Yvonne, nor her body could be found. Authorities did seem eventually to have enough to charge Brian and have him arrested for obstruction of justice. Despite claiming to authorities that Yvonne had simply left him, took her things, including her computer and her dog, they would learn these things did not ring true. Brian was at some point found with Yvonne's computer and it would be determined that he had sent the messages to her family after she had disappeared. It was also found that he had done a computer search on how to remove blood from a mattress.
A few months after his arrest a man in “the jungles” of Panama would come across a duffel bag and inside the bag were human remains. Those remains would eventually be identified as Yvonne and it would be determined that her body had been dismembered. It was come to believe that a machete was used in the dismemberment. To be honest although it was reported that authorities had the machete and would eventually match DNA on the weapon to Brian (and/or Yvonne) it was unclear just where the machete was found.
However, knowing that authorities now, not only had her body, but the weapon used in her murder Brian Brimager decided to try for a plea deal. Apparently part of his deal would require telling what had happened. As is often the case in which murderers tell the story as to what happened it appeared Brian would attempt to make himself seem a bit less guilty. He would claim that a fight had ensued between the couple and that she had first come after him with a knife. He would go on to say that after a struggled he was able to get the knife and stab her in her back. He would then admit to using the machete to chop up her body, including removing her hands from the body and disposing of them in a different place than the remainder of the body which he stuffed in a military style bag and garbage bags. He would then hike over a mile to the other side of the island in which the couple were staying and threw the bags down an embankment. He would also apparently admit to killing Yvonne's dog as if to make it appear she had taken the dog with her when she left.
In February of 2016 he would plead guilty to second degree murder and would receive a sentence of twenty-six years. He would also be given a $10,000 fine and ordered to pay $11,000 in restitution to Yvonne's father.
According to the Federal Department of Corrections website Brian Brimager is not eligible for release until the year 2036.