Determined Journalist Used Social Media To Hunt Down Man That Took Her Brother’s Life Decades Ago

Losing a loved one is never easy. The unspeakable pain of grief can be hard to ever move past completely. But, having a loved one’s life taken from them by the hands of another is even more unimaginable.

That was the reality for two families in England for nearly four decades. This cold case sat for 37 years until one day a simple Facebook search brought the entire crime back into the light…

Penny Farmer, a journalist from Oxfordshire, England, was haunted for decades by the disappearance of her brother and his girlfriend.


In late 1977, Chris Farmer and his girlfriend, Peta Frampton, left England to travel the world. They started by flying to Australia, then to California, Mexico, and ended up in Belize.

Courtesy of Penny Farmer via BBC

They wrote letters to their families back home updating them on their travels. When they got to Belize, in July 1978, they sent a letter informing them that they were going to sail to Honduras with an American they met named Dwayne and his two sons (below).

Courtesy of Penny Farmer via BBC

Weeks turned into months as the Farmers and Framptons waited to hear more. They began to worry, so they contacted the harbor master in Belize who confirmed that Chris and Peta left port on a boat called the Justin B, but with a captain under the name of Silas Boston.

Hive Mind / flickr

They were also told that the boat returned, but Chris and Peta were not with them. Confused, they contacted Honduras officials and learned that their visas were never used to enter the country. The U.K. Foreign Office was contacted and an international investigation began.

Several months passed with no leads until they were finally able to track down Boston, the boat captain, in Sacramento, California. The British Consulate General questioned him, but he claimed to have no idea where Chris and Peta were.

Unable to prove his involvement with the disappearance, officials had no choice but to let him walk. The Farmers and Framptons refused to give up as they waited for justice to be served.

Finally, in early 1979, they received the news they were dreading the whole time. Fishermen off the coast of Guatemala had reported pulling two corpses from the Caribbean Sea.

Sarah Calhoun

Guatemalan officials used dental records to help prove the two bodies were, in fact, the remains of Chris Farmer and Peta Frampton.

Further investigation by the Guatemalan government never happened. The Justin B was never swabbed for evidence, and Boston’s two sons were never questioned. Silas Boston seemed to vanish from thin air and the case went cold.

There was nothing more to do but try to move on with their lives. Penny did her best, pursuing a career in journalism in the hopes that she could help other people solve mysteries in their own lives. 

Dead in the Water by Penny Farmer / Facebook

But she never forgot her brother. In fact, she held onto the name Silas Boston until one day she had an idea that might help her track down the man she believed was responsible.

Russell Farmer

While on Facebook one day she decided to punch in his name, and to her surprise, her search returned a hit. There was a reason she didn’t give up all hope nearly four decades ago, after all! This cold case had a new lead.

 She found a 74-year-old’s profile in a California nursing home. She recalled that his profile picture had serial killer written all over it.


Penny contacted officials who reopened the case and tracked down Boston’s two sons, Vince and Russell. Vince was already testifying in California regarding the disappearance of Boston’s third wife, and he had no issue sharing what he knew about that fateful day on the boat with his father…

Dead in the Water by Penny Farmer / Facebook

Vince stated that Chris and Peta tried to defend him and his brother when Boston became angry and abusive. Out of anger, Boston beat the couple, tied them up, and then threw them overboard with weights to make sure that they would drown.

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Silas Boston was arrested for suspicion of murder. But he was smart. His organs were failing and only medicine could keep him alive. He refused care and died before his trial could begin. 


Penny, feeling conflicted with the outcome of the case, wanted to learn more about the life of Silas Boston and why he killed her brother and his girlfriend. She interviewed witnesses from various countries as well as Russell (pictured below).

Courtesy of Penny Farmer via BBC

She learned, through Russell, that Boston confided in him about committing 33 total murders over the course of his life. If this is true, then Boston was one of the most prolific serial killers of all time in America.

She compiled all of her research into a book titled, Dead in the Water. She recounts Chris and Peta’s life and their untimely deaths. She hopes her words stand as a memorial in their honor. They had “so much more to give.”

Dead in the Water by Penny Farmer / Facebook

Silas Boston never suffered the consequences for the crimes he committed. Penny is finished with her research, but she hopes that it helped open the door for others to dive deeper.

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