Just six months into the year, there have already been at least five deaths and at least one attempted murder of American tourists in the Dominican Republic, which has been a popular vacation spot for years. With two dead Black couples and three suspicious deaths at the same hotel within weeks of one another, many people are wondering what exactly is going on in the Dominican Republic?
During the last week of May, a Black couple was found dead in their hotel room. Maryland couple Cynthia Ann Day, 49, and her fiance Nathaniel Edward Holmes, 63, were staying at the Baha Principe hotel in Playa Nueva Romana. Their bodies were discovered on May 30, the same day they were to fly back to the United States. On Sunday, the Dominican Republic National Police determined that the couple died from respiratory failure and pulmonary edema caused by excess fluid in their lungs. Days later, it still remained unclear what may have caused their condition.
Day and Holmes’ deaths become even more suspicious after it was learned that another tourist died under mysterious circumstances at the same hotel.
Just five days before Day and Holmes’ bodies were found, a Pennsylvania woman collapsed and died at the Baha Principe hotel. Miranda Schaup-Werner, 41, checked in with her husband, Dan Werner, on May 25, the same day as the Maryland couple. Reports say after she enjoyed a drink at a minibar, she suddenly collapsed in her hotel room.
“At one point, she was sitting there happily smiling and taking pictures and the next moment she was in acute pain and called out for Dan and she collapsed,” family spokesperson Jay McDonald said.
Two months earlier, a Black couple from New York went missing in the Dominican Republic. Orlando Moore, 43, and his girlfriend, Portia Ravenelle, 51, had checked out of their hotel in Samana but never made it to their flight back to the United States back in March. For two weeks, photos of the couple enjoying their vacation began to circulate in the media as family and friends worried over their whereabouts. It was later discovered that the pair died after their car plunged off a cliff as they made their way to the airport. Ravenelle was found unconscious on the side of the road and later died at a local hospital. Moore’s body was found at sea.
According to the World Health Organization, the Dominican Republic ranked fifth in road deaths per capita in 2016.
In a now viral Facebook post, a Delaware woman described being kidnapped and severely beaten at her hotel while on a trip to Punta Cana in January. Tammy Lawrence-Daley wrote in her post that an employee of the Majestic Elegance resort subjected her to a violent ordeal that lasted for eight hours. Daley also claimed that the man thought she was dead and tried to dispose of her in a hole.
“This man thought he killed me, but he failed. He is still out there, a predator, waiting for his next victim. Only the next woman may not be so fortunate. Please, please do not walk alone. These attacks are happening too frequently and the criminals are not being prosecuted even though evidence is found,” Daley wrote.
Daley, who said she still suffers from several issues, including nerve damage, also mentioned that the hotel denied that any of its employees were involved.
The U.S. State Department issued a travel advisory for the Dominican Republic in April for crime before updating it in May to rank the nation a level 2 travel advisory for crime, which warns travelers to exercise increased caution. According to USA Today, areas popular with tourists, such as Punta Cana, the resort town on the island’s eastern shoreline where Lawrence-Daley said she was attacked, and Playa Nueva Romano, the resort on the southern shoreline where Holmes and Day vacationed, are actually thought to be safer.