Bill Ulmer, Two Years In Prison

Two years ago today, Bill Ulmer was arrested by federal officials at the Denver International Airport.  This is a link to the first news story to come out a few days later.   The reporter mistakenly states that Bill was attempting to travel to Hawaii with his brother’s passport on that day.  This statement is not true.  Bill was arrested in 2015 for traveling with his brother’s passport in 2010, when he fled from Costa Rica to North Carolina after the suspicious disappearance of his girlfriend, Barbara Struncova.

I’ll venture to say that seeing badges flash out and being read his rights was big surprise for Bill, and certainly his worst nightmare.  Ok, no, not the worst one.  His worst nightmare hasn’t happened yet–that would be the unlikely discovery and identification of any part of Barbara Struncova’s body.  It must have been a terrible day for his wife, who believed she was leaving for her honeymoon with him in Hawaii.   She will probably not ever thank her lucky stars that he was arrested before they boarded the plane, but she should.

Last year, on the first anniversary of Bill Ulmer’s arrest, he was still waiting to be sentenced.

For me personally, as Barbara’s friend and someone committed to telling her story, Bill’s arrest was a bittersweet victory.  And although he has not admitted to doing anything to Barbara, nor was he charged with doing anything to Barbara, her name and her story have been woven into his arrest and his sentencing.  A document filed by the prosecution at Bill’s sentencing describes the findings of the Costa Rican OIJ, removing this information from secrecy and making it public knowledge.

Sometime within the next 12 months Bill will be released from prison, we can suppose.  Two years, of his three year sentence, have been served.  He’s capable of all kinds of charm and good behavior, so will he be released sooner?  I don’t know yet.

What will he do then?

Go home to his wife?  Bounce around the country spinning tall tales?  Get a job and become an upstanding citizen?   Show up in the oil fields again?  Move to Hawaii?  I wonder if, with all the time he’s had to think, he’s come up with any interesting new stories about what happened to Barbara.  He’s told so many different ones.  Why stop now?

I would like to invite him to start over, to do honest work (which he is capable of), to be faithful to the woman who loves him beyond reason.  I would like to recommend a support group for anger management.  There’s not a lot left to lose.

Barbara Struncova is a ghost who will haunt Bill Ulmer through Google searches.  If he remains faithful to his devoted wife, it shouldn’t matter.  If he goes on the prowl, Barbara Struncova will be here speaking the truth from behind the screen, beyond the grave, to anyone with the sense to listen.

Barbara, because she is gone, will never go away.

Barbara Struncova at the airport in 2008, on the way to Costa Rica.


December 26, 2010: Barbara’s roommates speak with Bill on the telephone

On December 26, 2010, not having managed to locate Bill for four days, and now sick with fear about what might have happened to Barbara, Bill and Barbara’s roommates decided to call Bill’s family in North Carolina.  They gathered around the computer and punched the number into skype.

An older gentleman’s voice answered the phone.  They identified themselves as Bill friends, and asked if he knew where Bill was.  “Sure!” he answered pleasantly, “He’s right here.  Would you like to talk to him?”

They said yes.

I wasn’t part of this conversation, but have heard about it from several of the people who were.  The roommates say that they confronted Bill directly about Barbara, asking what had happened to her.  According to them, Bill laughed at them for suggesting that he killed her.  He made jokes, as if he could read their minds, about putting her in the board bag and throwing her over a bridge.  Then he hung up the phone.

This is the last conversation that Bill had with any of his former room mates.

* * *

Four days later, an investigation of the home by the OIJ revealed evidence that we are all familiar with, removing all doubt about whether or not Barbara Struncova was still alive.

The whereabouts of her body and of the board bag are an ongoing mystery.


Barbara Struncova November 7, 2010

Barbara Struncova
November 7, 2010

December 23, 2010: Money discovered missing

On the morning of December 23, 2010, the owner of the tour office where Bill worked woke up to discover that his company’s bank accounts had been frozen due to unusual activity the previous day.

At some time on December 22, 2010,  during hours when the shop was closed, several thousand dollars were charged to Barbara Struncova’s credit card at the tour center.   Security cameras confirm that directly after these charges were made, Bill Ulmer withdrew a large amount of money in cash at the ATM across the street from the shop, using the corporate ATM card that was in his possession.  He reportedly withdrew roughly $5,000–part of this money belonging to the tour company, and part of it belonging to Barbara Struncova.

At this time no one knew where Bill had gone, only that he was last seen sitting at a bus stop.

On this day, six years ago, the owner of the tour office where bill worked was the first person to suggest that Bill had harmed Barbara and fled.  It seems obvious now,  but at the time, shock and disbelief stupefied everyone.  Both Bill and Barbara were gone and no one knew the whereabouts of either.

Bill and Barbara’s room mates went into their bedroom.  To their horror, they found all of Barbara’s things in their places, untouched.


Bill Ulmer: arrested in June 2015 for using a passport belonging to his brother

Bill Ulmer: arrested in June 2015 for using a passport belonging to his brother

Read other days:

December 22
December 26


December 22, 2010: Bill Ulmer disappears without saying goodbye

On the afternoon of December 22, 2010, 17 days after Barbara Struncova was last seen, Bill Ulmer also disappeared.

He was last seen by a room mate, sitting at a bus stop with a small back pack and wearing long pants–a sure sign that someone at the beach is headed out of town.  The surprised room mate asked him where he was going.  Reportedly flustered, Bill replied that he was waiting for the private shuttle bus to the capital because he needed to pay the driver directly in cash for a client transfer.

That was Bill’s last conversation in Tamarindo.

The shuttle company, when contacted, reported no pick-ups in the name of Bill Ulmer, but they did report the pick-up of a white foreigner named “Steve York” at that spot, at that time, on that day.  Curious that Bill has a cousin by that name–one who has never been to  Costa Rica.

barbara at the beach

Barbara at the beach. July 2010

Read other days:

December 21
December 22

December 21, 2010: Bill returns from “looking for Barbara”

On Tuesday, December 21, 2010, Bill Ulmer returned from “looking for Barbara” to his home in Tamarindo.  Whereas he stated that he was going to look for her in the Caribbean and/or in Jaco, he was seen surfing in Malpais which is near neither place.  (Bill and Barbara’s friends did not  know where Bill had been “looking for Barbara”–the fact that he was actually surfing in Malpais came to light in recent years.)

The most peculiar part of Bill’s “search” for Barbara is that, although “the search” was unsuccessful, he came back in a much better mood than the one he left in.  Room mates remember that he seemed “happy” for the first time since Barbara “left” him.  Strange, for someone who spent days unsuccessfully searching for a missing person who was so close to him.

But, six years later, we all know why he felt so much relief.  He had a plan in place to vanish, too.

Read other days:

December 16
December 22



December 16, 2010: Bill Ulmer goes to “look for Barbara”

At some point between December 15 and December 17, 2010, Bill Ulmer went to “look for Barbara.”  He threw some things in a backpack, took an old sleeping bag, and left.

To some people, he said he was going to look for her in Puerto Viejo.
To others, he said he was going to find her in Limon.
He mentioned Jaco as well, which is nowhere near either of those places.

For years I wondered where he went.  Of course he wasn’t really looking for Barbara.  He knows perfectly well where she is.  So why the story about searching?

Now we know:
Bill went on a surf trip to Malpais.  A mutual acquaintance saw him there.  They chatted in the water, and Bill mentioned, before he paddled on, that he was going back home to the USA for Christmas.

This is the only mention Bill made to anyone about the trip that he indeed did make to the USA a few days later.

cut 4

Read other days:

December 12
December 21

December 12, 2010: Barbara’s 4th roommate returns home and finds her missing

On December 12, 2010, the 4th of Barbara Struncova and Bill Ulmer’s 4 roommates returned home from a visit to the USA. She was aware that while she was gone, Barbara had left Bill in an uncharacteristic manner, and that Barbara still had not contacted anyone.  Everyone was very worried about Barbara, but nobody wanted to ask Bill too many questions.  He seemed furious about the whole thing, and not one bit concerned for her safety, wherever she was.

In the kitchen on her first morning back, Bill told this roommate that Barbara left him with one of the Czech surfers– an old boyfriend named Martin–and that the couple had gone to Panama.

Although this made no sense at all (none of the Czech surfers were named Martin and all of them had returned to Czech Republic), no one had the gall to cross-examine Bill.

Barbara’s friends were afraid that something had happened to Barbara after she left.  Still, no one imagined that she never walked out the door.

Read other days:

December 7
December 16

September 20, 2008 Barbara Struncova with friends on the night before she left for Costa Rica

September 20, 2008
Barbara Struncova with friends on the night before she left for Costa Rica