Kimberley Blackwell was “an amazing woman,” says friend Eric Epstein.
“I have incredible memories of her over the years,” he says, his voice growing hoarse. “I think we brought each others’ inner five-year-old out.”
A coroner’s report is expected today, but Costa Rician investigators have already deemed Blackwell’s death a homicide.
The 53-year-old was found beaten and shot at her remote property on the edge of a national park in the Ossa Peninsula.
The story is still unclear and there are many variations, says Epstein. But he has suspicions about what happened.
Blackwell’s chocolate factory, in a remote area of Costa Rica, was a deliberate stance against poaching activity in the abutting park, he says.
The aim was to create employment for the local people so they wouldn’t have to poach, he says.
But there were still poachers who crossed her property to enter the park.
“She had gotten herself a (.22-calibre) armed with BBs and she started shooting them,” says Epstein. “I believe she shot and hit one about six weeks ago and may have put him in the hospital from what I heard. There was a bit of a war going on, a battle, definitely, and it escalated.”
There are two suspects, but no arrests because the judge says he is too busy to issue a warrant, says Epstein.
There are real concerns about evidence disappearing and the fact that the system isn’t working as hard or efficiently on this as it could, he says.
There are friends in Costa Rica who are trying to get things moving and Epstein has called the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, which encouraged him and others to call in, saying that the more calls, the more pressure that can be exerted.
Epstein has also called Yukon’s MP Larry Bagnell.
“She took a strong stand and definitely paid for it,” Epstein says. “It’s still far from resolved.”
But Blackwell was always strong in everything she did, he says.
She was the first squatter on Squatter’s Road, building her own cabin, he adds.
She was often the only woman in the camps of men, yet she was still whimsical and spiritual, he says.
“She was the quintessential Yukoner,” he says. “She was a tough, tough cookie.”
A memorial was held in Costa Rica Sunday and a local memorial in Whitehorse is being planned with hopes of having it out at the cabin she built, says Epstein.
However, no details have been confirmed.
Contact Roxanne Stasyszyn at firstname.lastname@example.org