Island officials: Evidence strong

Daily Herald of St. Maarten Meyshane Kemar Johnson (center), the first suspect arrested in the deaths of Mike and Thelma King, arrives at a St. Maarten court last week. A second suspect is due in court Thursday.

As family and friends prepare to say their goodbyes to Mike and Thelma King today, prosecutors in St. Maarten say they have strong evidence linking two suspects to the slayings of the Mount Pleasant couple.

St. Maarten police officers arrested a second suspect in the case on Monday, a 17-year-old boy identified only as J.C.M. He is due to make his first court appearance on Thursday, Solicitor General Taco Stein said.

The St. Martin News Network reported that the teen, like the first suspect arrested, is a young man of Jamaican descent. Stein, however, would not confirm that account.

Stein said it appeared early on to investigators that more than one person was involved in the killings. He wouldn’t rule out additional arrests, but he said it is too early to say whether more people are involved in the homicides.

Island authorities believe they have strong evidence linking the pair to the Kings’ killings, but he declined to provide specifics or elaborate on what role each is accused of playing in the fatal stabbings. Neither has been formally charged with murder.

The couple, who were part-time residents of St. Maarten, were found dead inside their beachfront condo Sept. 21. The Kings also owned a home in Toler’s Cove in Mount Pleasant and have family members statewide.

Funeral services for the couple will be held at 4 p.m. today at Chapin United Methodist Church, 415 Lexington Ave., in Chapin. Visitation will precede the service from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Both events have been closed to the media at the family’s request.

Also today, the first suspect in the case, identified by authorities as M.K.J., is scheduled to appear before a judge in St. Maarten to determine if the court will allow his continued pre-trial detention.

In a similar proceeding last week, prosecutors successfully argued that they had sufficient evidence to keep the suspect behind bars for another week.

Privacy rules prevent St. Maarten authorities from naming suspects, but local media outlets have identified the first person arrested in the killing as Meyshane Kemar Johnson, a 28-year-old security guard.

SMN News has reported that Johnson was implicated in the robbery of a Chinese restaurant on Sept. 19, supposedly the same day that the Kings were killed. Authorities reportedly found Michael King’s credit cards and cellphone inside the getaway car used in the robbery.

Reach Glenn Smith at 937-5556 or Twitter.com/glennsmith5.