The body of 64-year-old Ron Mackintosh, of Nanaimo, was discovered outside the Pacific coastal town of Barra de Navidad weeks after he’d been reported missing.
Wes Klettke told CBC News Thursday that Mackintosh spent years planning his move to the beach town of Melaque in 2010 and loved it there.
Mackintosh had a girlfriend, had adopted a rescue dog named Nikko and was making his own tequila.
But Klettke said that after another B.C. man named Robin Wood from Saltspring Island was killed in January during an apparent home-invasion, Mackintosh got worried.
“That was just a few houses away from Ron, so that was when him and his girlfriend decided to move to Barra."
Their new home was just five kilometres down the beach from Melaque.
Mackintosh was last seen Oct. 21 driving between the two towns in his black jeep with B.C. plates.
Ex-pats question safety
Another friend, Dave Norris, was called in by police to identify the body in the remote area where it was found.
"He was strapped by his neck ... with a belt .. to a tree," Norris said.
Mackintosh's jeep and dog are still missing.
Norris said the locals are as shocked as anyone by what's happened.
"This is a very tight knit community. It affects the Mexicans as much — or more so — than the tourists."
The two murders leave ex-pats in Melaque questioning their safety.
Sid Tafler, of Victoria, has visited the town annually for five years, but doesn't plan to return this year.
Tafler was a close friend to Robin Wood and isn't satisfied police arrested suspects in his killing.
"That's part of what's so disturbing,” Tafler said. “If everything was concluded satisfactorily with respect to [Wood's slaying], we'd have more confidence. And it doesn't seem that it was."
About 1.5 million Canadians visit Mexico every year and the federal government still advises travellers headed there to exercise a high degree of caution in the country due to an increase in violent crime.