Nicaraguan soldiers detain 2 foreigners, investigates possible link to Panama death case

MANAGUA, Nicaragua (AP) — The Nicaraguan army detained two foreigners at the border with Costa Rica on Monday, and Panamanian officials said they are investigating whether the couple is linked to the discovery of a dead American woman.

The army said the two foreigners were arrested after they ignored warnings from soldiers posted at the border to stop. The two were traveling by boat on the San Juan River, which separates Nicaragua and Costa Rica.

Authorities are investigating whether the couple fled north through Costa Rica from Panama.

Panama assistant prosecutor Angel Calderon said the two "have similar characteristics" to William Adolfo Cortez of Texas and his wife, Jane, who are being sought in connection with the death of American Cheryl Lynn Hughes.

Acquaintances said Hughes was from St. Louis, but the U.S. embassy in Panama refused to confirm that.

Last week, Panamanian police found the body of Hughes, who had been missing since March, and the skeletal remains of another person. Both were buried in the back patio of a hotel owned by Cortez in western Bocas del Toro province.

The two foreigners detained in Nicaragua identified themselves as an American man and Dutch woman, officials said. They gave names that did not coincide with the Panama suspects.