The family of a woman who disappeared in Panama in 2011 and was later found dead attended a federal court hearing in San Diego Friday for the man suspected of killing their loved one and covering up her death, calling him an “arrogant” and deceptive “monster.”
“Today, I saw a monster come into the [court] room, chained like an animal. That is a monster – they do exist. It was horrible to see him,” said Lauren Beyer, niece of victim Yvonne Baldelli.
Brimager was indicted by a federal grand jury in San Diego in June 2013 on charges of obstructing justice and making false statements to law enforcement. He was arrested by the FBI in San Diego's Vista area on Jun. 26, 2013, in connection with Baldelli’s case.
According to investigators, Brimager and Baldelli were in a romantic relationship and traveled together to Bocas Del Toro, Panama, in September 2011. Once they arrived, the pair rented a room inside a hostel on Isla Carenero, a small island near Bocas Del Toro accessible only by boat.
In Brimager’s indictment, the U.S. Attorney’s office alleged that Brimager physically abused Baldelli. She was last seen with him at a restaurant in Panama on Nov. 26, 2011.
After that, she was considered a missing person, with officials and Baldelli’s family desperately searching for clues in her disappearance.
At some point, Brimager allegedly killed Baldelli. Investigators said he then attempted to cover up her death by allegedly sending emails posing as Baldelli to friends and family to make is appear as if she was still alive. Investigators alleged that Brimager sent those emails from Baldelli’s laptop. The messages said she was traveling to Costa Rica with another man.
Additionally, investigators said Brimager allegedly used Baldelli’s ATM card in Costa Rica and in San Jose to make it appear as though she was alive.
He’s also accused of giving false information to law enforcement regarding her disappearance and of disposing of key evidence – a bloody mattress – from their room at the hostel on Isla Carenero.
Investigators believe he dumped the mattress in the ocean. The indictment released last summer also said Brimager had conducted two internet searches on Baldelli’s computer seeking instructions on how to wash a blood stain from a mattress.
Court documents also alleged that Brimager got rid Baldelli’s belongings by packing the items into 10 large garbage bags and leaving them on the dock outside the hostel for disposal.
He then allegedly lied to investigators, saying she took her laptop to travel. That same laptop was found in Brimager’s possession in 2012, which he then allegedly tried to cover up by saying the laptop never went to Panama and he never sent emails from that device.
Following the June 2013 indictment, Brimager faced 10 counts of obstruction of justice and one count of making a false statement to a federal officer. The charges carried a maximum sentence of 205 years in prison and a $2.5 million fine, if convicted of all charges.
In August 2013 – nearly two years after vanishing – Baldelli’s body was discovered on an island off the coastline of Panama’s Isla Carenero.
The FBI said her remains were found zipped up inside a bag on the coastline. Forensic scientists in Panama used DNA analysis on the skull and bones to positively identify the remains as Baldelli.
Currently, Brimager faces 13 charges in connection with Baldelli’s death.
In federal court on Friday, Brimager pleaded not guilty to all charges. His wife attended the hearing but she and the family’s attorney declined to speak with NBC 7.
Baldelli’s father, James Faust, niece and other family members also attended the hearing.
Afterwards, Faust and Beyer expressed their disgust toward Brimager and crusade for justice for Baldelli.
“This is the first time I’m seeing the man responsible for my daughter’s death and dismemberment,” Faust told NBC 7. “The family wants justice for Yvonne. We know if she were here, she’d want justice.”
Though Faust said he never personally met Brimager while he was involved with Baldelli, he said the suspect’s actions following Baldelli’s death say a lot about his character.
After seeing Brimager in court Friday, Faust had this to say: “He seemed to be very arrogant to me. His attitude [toward my daughter’s death] was so aloof, as if he had no realization of what he did. He was just very arrogant.”
The father said other family members had met Brimager before he took off to Panama with Baldelli, and said those relatives had an uneasy, “uncomfortable” feeling about him.
Now, he wants to see Brimager convicted in this case, given the “stiffest penalty” possible in both the United States and Panama, where Faust said Brimager also faces charges. The family is currently working with an attorney in Panama to bring Brimager to trial there, too, on murder charges.
Though Brimager now has a wife and children, Faust said he doesn’t deserve time with his family.
“He doesn’t deserve to have that chance to be with his daughters,” said Faust. “He deprived me and the family of being with our daughter, Yvonne.”
Beyer agreed, saying her family has been hurting for years over the death of Baldelli.
“It’s very difficult. We’ve gone through this for years now. We have to live this every single day,” she said.
Beyer said her aunt will forever be remembered for her kindness and charisma.
“She was so beautiful – so full of life. Just an amazing gift from God; we all miss her very much. It’s terrible that she’s gone. Terrible,” she added.
Brimager’s next court hearing in San Diego is slated for Mar. 28.