Antigua police scour Caribbean island for possible suspect in killing of California woman

By Anika Kentish, AP
Monday, January 25, 2010

Antigua cops scour for clues in US woman’s slaying

ST. JOHN’S, Antigua — Antigua police said Monday that they have a possible suspect in last week’s killing of a San Francisco woman during a cruise stopover to celebrate her sister’s wedding.

Investigators did not release the name of the “person of interest,” only describing him as a tall, slender man with a gold tooth. He was apparently in the area where Nina Nilssen was fatally stabbed after going ashore last Tuesday, police said.

Police described her as 30 years old, but her family said Monday that she was 29.

Nilssen, a graduate student at San Francisco State University, was killed off Pigeon Point Beach, near the affluent boating community of English Harbor that has become a target of the Caribbean island’s crime wave.

Her body was found less than a mile (kilometer) from where an Australian yacht captain was slain nearly a year ago. He and his girlfriend were accosted in a dockyard area near English Harbor.

Investigators say Nilssen was attacked after apparently wandering off alone following a beach barbecue with friends and relatives. Antigua’s coroner says an autopsy found Nilssen died from a single stab wound to the neck.

Police Cpl. Frankie Thomas said Monday that he could not comment about whether a motive had been identified. “We are still working on every bit of information that comes about,” he said.

The twin-island nation of Antigua and Barbuda has been struggling with crime in recent years, including the July 2008 shooting of British honeymooners Catherine and Benjamin Mullany in their cottage at a beachside resort.

Violent crime rarely affects foreigners in the Caribbean, where an estimated 6 million Americans visit annually. But a few high-profile attacks last year sent ripples through the tourism industry, such as the rape and killing in Puerto Rico of pregnant American tourist Sara Kuszak, who was abducted while jogging in February.

Associated Press Writer David McFadden in San Juan, Puerto Rico, contributed to this report.

will not be displayed