- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 25, 2017

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - A California man has died while awaiting trial in the slayings of two British tourists on his boat during a sailing trip from Belize nearly four decades ago, prosecutors said Tuesday.

Silas Duane Boston, 76, died Monday night while he was being treated at an outside hospital for what the Sacramento County sheriff’s department said were significant health problems.

He had pleaded not guilty to two counts of first-degree maritime murder in the 1978 deaths of Christopher Farmer and Peta Frampton, both 25 and originally from Manchester, England.

Boston was arrested Dec. 2 at his home in Paradise, California.

He owned a sailboat named the Justin B. that he sailed around the western Caribbean Sea, federal prosecutors said, adding that his victims had chartered his boat.

Authorities said Boston tied them up, covered their heads with plastic bags, attached weights and shoved them overboard, where they drowned. Their bodies were found in July 1978 off the coast of Guatemala.

Boston’s two young sons, then 11 and 13, were also aboard at the time and recently implicated their father in the slayings, according to court documents. They said he killed the pair because they had laughed at him earlier when he fell into the water while drunk.

Farmer’s mother, who is in her 90s, had sought a speedy trial because of the age of the suspect and the victims’ families.

Boston could have faced life in prison if convicted.

The prosecution was the result of a cold-case investigation by Sacramento police detectives who were eyeing Boston in connection with the disappearance in 1968 of his former wife, Mary Lou Boston of Sacramento.

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