All have “at least one swimming pool,” and servants (“at least one butler and a gardener”), many have private tennis courts and screening rooms, and some even have a small golf course or putting range.
But only one, Fort Shandy Villa, has a murder.
A horrible, brutal stabbing murder that has never been solved.
On February 26, 1998, wealthy French socialite Suzie Mostberger went to a dinner party hosted by The Mustique Company, which owns and operates this exclusive private island. Sir James Mitchell, then the prime minister of the Grenadines, was the guest of honor. After the typical drinking, dining, and joviality, Suzie headed back to her rental home, driving a golf cart. We know that she made it back as far as her lavish master bedroom.
She was set to depart the following morning back to France. Instead, she departed this world.
Shortly before 6 A.M. the next morning, the maid who was included in Suzie’s luxury villa rental fee of “at least two servants” found her dead.
And not just dead, but dead as in sliced and diced.
Reports say that her attacker had savagely stabbed her at least 12 times, in the neck, chest, stomach and arms. Her throat was slashed almost from ear to ear. The fine linens, costly rugs and curtains of her bedroom were splattered with blood. Clutched in her left hand was a small penknife she’d used to try to defend herself. According to London newspaper The Telegraph, there was no evidence she was raped or sexually assaulted, and a sizable stash of money and jewelry was left untouched. Her return plane ticket was missing, but it was never used or cashed in.
What happened next was ...nothing.
Or at least, nothing much.
On the day she died, Suzie was 56, unmarried and childless. She was from Strasbourg, in the Alsace region of France. She had been the long-time lover of Henri Dreyfus, a wealthy French industrialist who died in 1993. The Telegraph claims that Dreyfus left her “a large slice of his fortune.” But others say that Suzie had plenty of her own money as well, being the heiress to her own family’s fortune in the dental and pharmaceutical business. The Times reported, “‘She was very rich, but very generous, very happy, very funny,’ one friend said. She liked to spend two months a year on Mustique, and in early 1998 rented Fort Shandy, a four-bedroom villa overlooking Britannia Bay.” Her family and friends agreed that Suzie was planning to buy a villa for herself. Money was not an object.
At least, it seemed not to be.
Suzie planned to buy a villa, live there six month out of the year, and the rest of the time, rent it to wealthy celebrities like Prince William and Kate Middleton, and the Middleton masses.
Sir James Mitchell, one of the last people to see Suzie alive, remarked: “This is a catastrophe for everyone.”
One would think that the stupendously wealthy property owners of Mustique would have leaped at the chance to find Suzie’s killer. Celebrity villa owner and investor Mick Jagger declared that he might sell his Mustique properties because Suzie’s murder had made him concerned that his children were in danger of being kidnapped or worse. He then curiously agreed to provide the police with a DNA sample. Indeed, the (then) approximately 90 villa owners did allegedly meet up and discussed offering a reward for information leading to the murderer’s apprehension, and the police did not allow anyone to immediately leave the island while they investigated, a la Agatha Christie. Suspicion first fell upon Suzie’s colorful gentleman friend Vladimir, a 27-year-old variously described as a Slav or a Serb, said to be the son of a diplomat and/or a deserter from the Yugoslav Army. Vladimir, an artist, reportedly met Szsie while working in an expensive Strasbourg clothes boutique. Suzie’s island acquaintances mumbled that he was “nothing but a gigolo,” but this was a situation with which many were themselves personally familiar, so no alarms were raised. And in any case, Vladimir had an alibi–he had left Mustique 10 days earlier, to return to his course in hotel management at a school in Switzerland.
Meanwhile, the police not only failed to secure the crime scene, but they started to themselves sleep there–independent accommodations on Mustique being rather too pricey.
The police also investigated whether Suzie’s death was linked to the Caribbean drug trade–Colombia being not so far away. Four French people who moored their yacht in Britannia Bay shortly before the murder also fell under suspicion. Locals said that Suzie had invited them to dinner a few nights before her murder, but claimed that she “felt uneasy” about them.
A smear of blood on the windowsill and a minuscule drop of DNA left behind on a knife indicated that Suzie’s killer might be identified, but this never happened. Police and detectives checked in from Guadalupe and the State of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. But nothing was ever done. No suspect was ever targeted or charged. Police declared that they could not even find a motive, except perhaps a crime of passion, or a burglary gone wrong (where the killer may have panicked after slashing Suzie repeatedly, and fled without taking anything of value).
But the Mostberger family firmly believed that, for whatever reasons, Suzie’s murderer was a hired professional. Observed The Telegraph: “No fingerprints were left. Nor was the murder weapon ever found. Whoever killed her seems to have slipped on to the island by boat early in the morning and left immediately afterwards.”
Shortly after Suzie’s death, The Telegraph reported, “it was discovered that millions of dollars she was believed to have deposited in Swiss bank accounts had disappeared. ‘It may be,’ says a French police source, ‘that she took the money out just before her death and transferred it to the Caribbean. We just don't know.’ Detectives say their inquiries have been severely hampered by banking secrecy laws. ‘We have never believed she was killed by a chance intruder,’ Miss Mostberger’s sister, Francine Marie, told a French newspaper.”
The Mostberger family’s lawyer, Thierry Moser, was more accusatory: “This is a case of sabotage,” Moser declared. “Sabotage at a sovereign level. Our view is that the authorities are more interested in having the whole case forgotten about than finding out who killed Suzie.”
Although an inquest was subsequently opened, it was held that too much time had passed, and the evidence was too compromised and thin, for anyone to be accused.
Mustique is an island that is run by a virtual country club, the largely British-owned Mustique Company. And The Company claims “celebrities seek the island’s discrete privacy, safety and casual lifestyle,” which is said to now so attract Prince William and the Middleton masses. The Mostberger family complains that the only communication it had from The Company after Suzie’s death was a bill for her outstanding rent. Was The Company more interested in maintaining the island’s reputation for sumptuous exclusivity, celebrity hobnobbing, and royal elbow-rubbing than in catching Suzie’s killer?
That may be the least of it.
Would you want Prince Charles or Prince William to be the next King?