Mystery In Paradise

Was Randy Latona's Death A Suicide Or Murder?

Roatan, Honduras, is a tiny island in the western Caribbean Sea. It's known for its sandy white beaches and magnificent diving.

It was a paradise on earth for Randy Latona, a young American who went there hoping to find his fortune. Completing the picture was his girlfriend, Leslie Spiering. The couple, dating off-and-on for eight years, shared Randy's seaside condominium.

"Randy was the epitome of the California surfer boy: blond hair, tan, free spirit. He truly was," says Randy's father, Vince. "A gentle soul," adds his mother, Jill. "We used to laugh so much. He was a happy person."

Randy Latona was a successful stock trader living in Las Vegas, Nev. But two years ago, at 34, he closed his accounts, packed his bags, and headed to Roatan to start his own business.

He called the business the "Bay Island Rum Company," and planned on distributing Caribbean rum products throughout Central America.

"He had just shipped in some $30,000 worth of material. He rented a little warehouse down there," Vince told correspondent Troy Roberts. "All the gift shops and all the hotels had the products."

In March of 2002, Randy was about to launch a marketing blitz for his rum company during a popular Easter weekend festival held on the island. When the festival ended, Randy planned to travel to the United States and celebrate Easter with his family in upstate New York. But that Easter morning, Vince found an ominous message on his cell phone.

"It said, 'This is a neighbor of Randy's in Roatan. Something has happened and you need to contact us as soon as possible,'" recalls Vince.

Randy's sister, Megan, picked up the phone and immediately placed a call to Roatan: "I said, 'I'm calling from the U.S. I need to speak to my brother.' He said, 'You can't.'"

That, Vince says, started a day of nightmare.

Honduran authorities found Randy lying on his bed, with a single gunshot wound to his head. A series of police photos document the scene: A 9 mm Glock was in his right hand, with his thumb wrapped around the trigger.

"By the amount of blood in the bed, it was obvious he was dead," says Antonio Moncada, who managed Randy's condominium, and was one of the first on the scene. "I saw a puddle of blood toward the middle of the bed. He had a strip of blood toward his earlobe. It was dark brown. It was already dry...Definitely you could see that he was dead for quite some time."

The Hondurans' forensic investigation led them to officially rule the death a suicide. But Randy's father didn't believe it, and they point out there was no suicide note.

"I don't care what they say. He did not take his own life," says Randy's mother, Jill.

So if Randy didn't commit suicide, what happened early that morning on this island paradise?

Randy's family thinks that his girlfriend, Leslie, may have something to do with it. "She was there. She admits she was there," says Jill. "She killed him. She murdered our son."

For the last two years, Vince and Jill Latona have been trying to prove that their son was murdered –and that Randy's girlfriend, Leslie, is the woman who killed him.

When Randy's family first met Leslie, they say she came across as shy. But they didn't believe it. "Wasn't a favorable first impression. She looked strung out. A little rude, crude," recalls Randy's brother, David. "Something in her caught his eye. And I think he genuinely fell in love with her."

But the Latonas says the relationship soured as Leslie grew financially dependent on Randy – and the family became increasingly concerned about the relationship and Leslie.

"There was something basically missing behind the eyes," says Jill. "There was something that she was always covering up."

They claim that Leslie suffered from a serious addiction to cocaine, which fueled wild mood swings and raging, abusive fits – often directed at Randy.

But the relationship may have been more complicated than the Latonas knew. Records indicate that Randy was arrested for assaulting Leslie twice in the United States. The circumstances were unclear, and Randy was never charged. But one thing was clear. By March 2002, the Latonas says that Randy was ready move on, without Leslie in his life.

"He stuck to his guns and said, 'This is it. There is no more. I'm not giving you any more money. You're not going to stay here. You're done. We're done. You're out. And she takes this gun, and all of a sudden, bang,'" says Vince, who believes that argument ended with a gunshot.

Why kill him? "Because she knew it was really the end," says Jill. "It was the end of everything."

48 Hours made repeated attempts to speak with Leslie, but she declined requests for an interview.

She also refused to speak to the Latonas. But she did speak to the Honduran police, who were satisfied with her statement. Investigators Raphael Soto and Gonzalo Sanchez cleared her of any wrongdoing and allowed her to return to the United States.

"Based on the evidence obtained, we are absolutely certain that Mr. Randall Patrick Latona committed suicide on March 30, 2002," said Soto. "Always, in suicide cases, the family casts doubt on the investigation. No matter how good the investigation may be, they always doubt it."

But Randy's family says the evidence clearly points to murder, and they think the Honduran police are ignoring it. "It's like looking at a sheet of paper and you're telling me it's black when it's clear it's white," says Vince. "There is no evidence, zero evidence, that the Hondurans have presented to show it's a suicide."

They've decided to take matters into their own hands and hire experts to analyze the evidence.

Part II: Mystery In Paradise