American bookmaker found dead in Costa Rica

An American bookmaker was found dead after he went missing in Costa Rica nearly a year ago, the nation's justice officials told ESPN on Monday.

The body of William Sean Creighton, 43, based in Costa Rica and originally from West Virginia, was found last week in a cemetery in the small fishing town of Quepos, according to a statement from the nation's judicial investigation department (OIJ). A cause of death could not be confirmed because "it isn't clear yet," according to the statement.

"We can confirm Costa Rican authorities identified the remains of a U.S. citizen in Costa Rica," a spokesperson for the U.S. State Department said in a statement Monday afternoon in response to ESPN's request for comment about Creighton's death. "We offer our sincerest condolences to the family on their loss. We are closely monitoring local authorities' investigation into the cause of death. We stand ready to provide all appropriate consular assistance. Out of respect to the family during this difficult time, we have no further comment."

Creighton founded and ran 5Dimes, a popular online sportsbook headquartered in San Pedro, located in the mountainous interior next to Costa Rica's capital city. The site has served bettors in the U.S. for two decades.

Creighton grew up in Bridgeport, West Virginia, and was the son of William Creighton, the owner of Giant Eagle grocery stores. After graduating from West Virginia University in 1998 with a degree in business administration, he moved to Costa Rica to launch 5Dimes a year later.

In 2016, the Department of Homeland Security revealed it was investigating 5Dimes for money laundering, according to a seizure warrant filed in U.S. District Court that year. In the warrant, an agent detailed how he believed 5Dimes instructed bettors based in the U.S. to use gift cards as a way to place and later cash out bets. The federal government has never brought charges against 5Dimes or Creighton. The investigation remains open.

The Costa Rican OIJ said in January that Creighton was abducted after leaving the 5Dimes office on Sept. 24, 2018. According to OIJ, Creighton was driving through the neighborhood of Granadilla de Curridabat around 10 p.m. when two Costa Rican traffic officers flashed their lights and pulled him over. Four men in a rented, gray pickup truck then arrived on the scene and abducted Creighton, authorities said.

Early the following morning, Creighton's relatives received a $5 million ransom demand, according to OIJ. Ultimately, a $1 million ransom was paid in bitcoin, OIJ said.

A representative for 5Dimes declined comment when contacted by ESPN.

In January, authorities conducted raids in Costa Rica and Spain, leading to the arrest of 12 people believed to be involved in Creighton's disappearance, according to the OIJ statement at the time. Three suspects -- Jordan Morales Vega, whom investigators say was the leader of the abduction and in the pickup truck during Creighton's kidnapping; his mother, Guiselle Vega Aguirre; and companion Maria Fernanda Solis Chaves -- were extradited from Spain to Costa Rica in late April and are awaiting trial. The suspects are being investigated for the crime of extortive kidnapping, according to the Costa Rica Office of Public Ministry.

The Costa Rican government has not yet said how it discovered Creighton's body, nor how investigators identified his remains, which were discovered a roughly three-hour drive from the suspected abduction site. The Office of Public Ministry has not yet announced if it will bring any additional charges now that Creighton's death has been confirmed.