11/27/2012 03:23 EST | Updated 01/27/2013 05:12 EST

Murder charge laid after P.E.I. man killed on beach in St. Lucia

CASTRIES, St. Lucia - Police in St. Lucia say a murder charge has been laid in the slaying of a 75-year-old tourist from Prince Edward Island who was attacked as he walked with his wife on a beach.

Cpl. Aniel Innocent, a spokeswoman for the Royal St. Lucia Police, says Curtis Joseph appeared Tuesday before a first district court magistrate to face charges he killed Colin Peter on Nov. 15.

She says Joseph, a 42-year-old resident of Castries, is accused of bludgeoning Peter with a blunt object.

Peter, a resident of Guernsey Cove, P.E.I., was on the Caribbean island researching one of his ancestors —William Peter — a Canadian merchant who became a major local businessman when he moved to St. Lucia in 1890.

When much of Castries was rebuilt in 1948 after a devastating fire, a central boulevard and a prominent business district was named after William Peter.

Prime Minister Kenny Anthony described Colin Peter's killing as extremely tragic.

"William Peter was a son of our soil for all intents and purposes. Colin Peter was here gathering information on his relative to further document the relationship he had with St. Lucia,'' Anthony said.

Overall crime rates are relatively low in St. Lucia, but there has been a worrying rise in violent crime the last few years that police have blamed largely on drug trafficking.

Foreign tourists have occasionally been the victims of violent assaults amid the crime jump. It's a big concern on tourism-dependent St. Lucia, where officials have been trying to reassure visitors that the island is typically a safe place for travellers.

Last year, two British women who were volunteering on a conservation project were raped by a group of masked attackers on an isolated stretch of Grande Anse beach. Also last year, a Danish woman was shot in front of her husband and two friends during a home invasion in Soufriere, the tourism capital of the scenic tropical island.

Police said that Joseph has been remanded into custody and will appear in court again on Dec. 14.