ST. MAARTEN (WCSC) - In a Live 5 exclusive, the business partners of a Mount Pleasant couple brutally murdered last September in Saint Maarten sat down for an interview about the turmoil following the deaths.
Melanie and Topper Daboul of Saint Maarten have countless fond memories on the island with Michael and Thelma King of Mount Pleasant.
"They were beautiful people, "said Topper Daboul, speaking from Saint Maarten. "We sang with them. We ate with them."
The Dabouls built a strong friendship with the Kings over the course of four years, and eventually purchased a boat together on the island.
Last year the Kings agreed to join forces with the Saint Maarten couple in a business venture. The Dabouls wanted to sell their homemade rum abroad, and the Kings agreed to invest in a rum factory to help them achieve that goal. The plan was going well, until Topper Daboul visited the Kings' Caribbean home last September and found the couple stabbed to death.
"Unfortunately, I had the sad experience of looking for him and finding what had happened," said Topper Daboul.
It was a shocking turn of events, as the Kings were a well-liked couple on the island.
"We were always amazed when we would go out with them anywhere because people would say hello to us, and then they would say hello to them and we were always surprised," said Daboul's wife, Melanie, about their frequent outings with the Kings in Saint Maarten.
Following the murders, Saint Maarten police arrested three men. Investigators said the motive for the killings was robbery.
Despite the arrests, people from Saint Maarten all the way to South Carolina started talking, saying the rum business the Kings had recently invested in with the Dabouls might be linked to the murders. A contention the business partners call "preposterous."
"When this happened we basically had an empty warehouse, and we were making rum out of our kitchen and our home. So for us, we just couldn't see you know how there could be any connection," said Melanie Daboul. "What would there be to gain?"
"We're aware of it, " said Topper Daboul. "Stuff falls off our shoulders, but it does do harm to us as well from an economic standpoint and different looks we get from people."
Before the Kings were killed last fall, construction continued on the rum factory. As a result, the couples did business from the Dabouls' house. According to the Dabouls, during their frequent encounters the Kings never mentioned being scared.
With three suspects set to go to trial in April, the Dabouls say the facts will speak for themselves.
"When the case is over we know that we'll get some relief," said Topper Daboul. " We'll always feel bad about the people who think the wrong things because there's always a lot of people thinking the wrong things."
Eventually, proceeds from the rum sales will go toward an organization designed to help other families who have suffered tragedies abroad. Earlier this month the rum hit store shelves in South Carolina. It is expected to be sold in Georgia by April and then distributed nationwide.