MOUNT PLEASANT — Friends of Michael and Thelma King were stunned Friday to learn of their violent deaths in the Dutch Caribbean country of St. Maarten.
“It’s beyond me. It was such a shock,” said Terry Tamblyn of Isle of Palms. “I can’t figure any reason. It was crazy to me. Everybody loved Mike and Thelma.”
The couple resided at a Tolers Cove condominum where they stayed much of the year.
Michael King was a generous man, said Tamblyn, who was a partner with King in St. Maarten rental property. King and his wife were on the island for vacation and business, he said.
“He’d give you the shirt off his back,” Tamblyn said. “They were just the greatest people in the world. I can’t think of any enemies.”
Chief Prosecutor Hans Mos in St. Maarten said the couple was stabbed. Thelma King was tied to a chair. Michael King was lying on the floor and partially over another chair, according to a press release issued by the prosecutor and posted at the St. Martin News website.
“The motive of this horrific crime is yet unclear,” Mos said.
The bodies of the couple were found Friday in their beachfront condominium, according to police spokesman Ricardo Henson, the Associated Press reported.
King was a retired insurance executive who later started a successful printing business that he sold, Tamblyn said.
Tamblyn last spoke with King two weeks ago.
“He was excited. He didn’t have any problems,” Tamblyn said.
King owned a couple of restaurants on the island, and was on the verge of kicking off a new spiced-rum business, Tamblyn said.
The couple was last heard from Wednesday night. The bodies were discovered Friday morning by a friend, Tamblyn said.
On Wednesday night they had drinks and ate at a Mexican restaurant called Macho Nacho, he said. Friends could not reach the couple all day Thursday, which was unusual, he said.
Murder is a rarity in St. Maarten. “It’s just shocking. It’s one of the places that I feel safe,” Tamblyn said.
The Kings’ Mount Pleasant condominium is at the end of a cul-de-sac in Tolers Cove on the Intracoastal Waterway next to the Ben Sawyer Bridge.
A man who identified himself as a brother of Michael King answered the door. He asked that his name not be used. He said that he was angry and shocked because of the crime and that he was heading to St. Maarten.
Neighbor Harry Murray said everyone loved Mike and Thelma King.
“You hear something like that and it’s hard to comprehend. They were good people,” Murray said. He said the couple traveled a lot, and he described them as outgoing.
“Oh my word. I’m floored,” said neighbor Patricia Clark.
Tamblyn said King was working on a business to import rum, then put spices into it at a factory and warehouse.
Local restaurant owner Topper Daboul told the AP that he was a friend of Michael King and that they were building a rum factory together.
“These two people probably had to hang their wings up at night. That’s how beautiful they were,” Daboul told the AP. “Their life was pretty successful. ... They had oodles of dollars. They had everything they ever wanted in life.”
The Kings were in their 50s, the AP reported.