SAN DIEGO–Over four years after the disappearance and death of Yvonne Baldelli, a man pleaded guilty in federal court Wednesday to her murder, admitting that he fatally stabbed Baldelli in the back with a knife, dismembered her body with a machete and disposed of her remains in a remote jungle on the Panamanian island where they lived as a couple for two months. Baldelli’s skeletal remains were discovered by a Panamanian citizen approximately 21 months after her murder.
Brian Karl Brimager pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Miller to an information charging him with Foreign Murder of a United States National. In his guilty plea, Brimager also admitted that after he murdered Baldelli, he obstructed the investigation into her murder by destroying, concealing and disposing of evidence, including a blood-stained mattress and Baldelli’s dog, clothes and jewelry; accessing Baldelli’s email account after her murder and impersonating Baldelli in emails sent from her account to friends and family; withdrawing money from Baldelli’s bank account in Costa Rica after her death; and providing false statements to a federal agent – all in an attempt to make it seem as though Baldelli were alive and well and traveling with another man in Costa Rica.
As a result of his guilty plea, Brimager faces up to life in prison. Brimager has been in federal custody since June 2013. A sentencing hearing before Judge Miller is scheduled for May 25.
“Brian Brimager took a young woman’s life in a heinous way and then further victimized her family by creating a cruel lie that she was happily traveling the world with another man,” said U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy. “Now that Brimager has finally admitted his crime, we hope that the truth, and knowing that their daughter’s murderer will serve decades in prison, will give this grieving family a sense of justice and peace.”
Duffy added: “This prosecution was made possible by the hard work and dedication of the FBI Offices in San Diego and Panama, our colleagues in the Department of Justice, the U.S. Mission in Panama City, and most notably, the cooperation and assistance of the Panamanian Government, whose police and prosecutors enabled our office to bring this prosecution by providing access to witnesses and evidence.”
“Mr. Brimager’s guilty plea is another step in obtaining justice for the victim in this case, Yvonne Baldelli,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge, Eric Birnbaum. “The FBI will continue to work with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and our international law enforcement partners to obtain justice for Ms. Baldelli and hold Mr. Brimager accountable for her brutal murder.”