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Mysterious Tourist Resort Deaths

Unexplained Mysteries

34:16 min | 7 months ago

Mysterious Tourist Resort Deaths

"This episode contains depictions of illness and death that some may find disturbing caution is advised for listeners under thirteen october two thousand eighteen a wilder montez and her boyfriend flopped onto their bed at the luxury. Bahia principe bougainville resort in the dominican republic. The couple were thrilled to be in the caribbean far away from the stress and cold weather of brooklyn as they unpacked. They chatted about how they would spend their vacation. Perhaps they would go hiking up the island's beautiful mountains or relax at the resort spa and waiting just outside their window were miles of pristine white sand beaches a wilda went to the room's minibar and grabbed seven up when she cracked open the bottle. She noticed that no bubbles floated to the surface but she shrugged off and took a hearty swig. A burning. Pain shot through a wilderness. Mouth and throat. She rushed to the bathroom. Inspect the soda into the sink. Coughing violently her head growing foggy. She fell to her knees. Spasms shuddered through her body as blood poured out of her mouth. A wilderness boyfriend rushed to the phone and called reception. They needed an ambulance now. In seconds a dream vacation had turned into a terrifying nightmare. Welcome to unexplained mysteries stratified original from podcast. I'm your host molly. And i'm your host richard in life. There's so much we don't know but in this show we don't take. We don't no for an answer. Every tuesday and thursday we investigate the greatest of history and life. On earth you can find episodes of unexplained mysteries and all other spotify originals from podcast for free on spotify. or wherever. You listen to podcasts. This is a special one part episode on the mysterious tourist deaths in the dominican republic in two thousand eighteen two thousand nineteen at least twelve. Americans died suddenly at various resorts on the island. After three people died in the same week some started to wonder if they were connected today. We'll learn the most popular theories before getting to the bottom of what was actually causing trouble in paradise. We have all that and more coming up. Stay with us. This episode is brought to you by mcdonald's. Get your favourite soft drink at mcdonald's for just a dollar any size any time yes. Even soft drinks with breakfast are only a dollar order ahead on the app. Practice and participation may before you tune into the next episode. Let mitsubishi motors. Take the wheel for section design twenty twenty. Two mitsubishi eclipse. Cross is changing everything you think you know about compacts these of greeted connectivity with mitsubishi. Connect and head up display sophisticated coop. Like design reliable super all wheel control for smooth confident driving. It's the sleek modern and safe choice designed humans. I the redesigned twenty twenty two mitsubishi eclipse. Cross drive your ambition. Learn more at mitsubishi. Cars dot com. This episode is brought to you by boogie. The directorate debut from writer director at long bogey is the coming of age story of alfred boogie. Chen a basketball fee. Nom from flushing queens. Who dreams of playing in the nba. Starring taylor takahashi taylor page and possible time magazine. Hells boogie as one of the most anticipated films of the year catch boogie in theaters on march. Fifth get your tickets. Now at bogey. Tickets dot com. The dominican republic is a jewel floating in the caribbean visitors to the island. Come looking for paradise in its verdant rainforests and white sand beaches more often than not they find it and then they tell their friends. Tourism is a massive industry in the dominican republic. In fact around twenty percent of the nation's gross domestic product comes from foreign visitors though the population numbers just ten million people dominicans. Welcome more than six million vacationers every year. Almost half of them come from the united states in two thousand eighteen. A disturbing trend began among the tourists. One that would go unnoticed for almost a year. Someone or something was killing them in june that year a fifty one year old. Pennsylvania resident named yvette monet export on her first vacation in years. Yvette was excited to finally relax at the luxurious by principal resort in punta cana. Little did she know it would be her final holiday. One evening event in her fiance had a drink from their room's minibar before going to bed in the middle of the night her partner hurting gurgling sound thinking nothing of it he turned over and went back to sleep but when he woke he that was dead. Yvette was just the first in a string of tragedies. The following month of forty five year old man named david harrison traveled to the dominican with his wife. Dawn they state at a different resort. But like yvette. David seemingly had a target on his back one day. He returned from snorkeling saying he felt unwell after he dawn fell asleep. The unthinkable happened. David woke in a cold sweat. Unable to move his wife tried to get help but it was too late. David had suffered a heart attack which caused his lungs to fill with fluids. I condition known as pulmonary dima. He didn't survive as two thousand. Eighteen ended it. Seemed like yvette. And david were to random fatalities but in early two thousand nineteen four. More people died seventy eight year old jerry current in january thirty one year old tracy jerome gesture junior in march and sixty five year old john corcoran and sixty seven year. Old robert wallace. In april each of these tragedies were reported to the authorities but no one made any connection between them until forty one year old miranda shop werner on may twenty fifth two thousand nineteen miranda arrived at the bahia principe bougainville resort with her husband. Dan the getaway was to celebrate their ninth wedding anniversary. They hadn't been in their room. Long maranda took a drink from the mini bar. But after her first sip she suddenly convulsed she cried out for her husband and fell backwards onto the bed where she writhed in agony before passing out. Dan swiftly called the paramedics. Dan himself was a doctor. So he searched for miranda's polls he could barely feel it. He administered cpr until the emt's arrived. But neither he nor the medics could revive her. Miranda was declared dead on the scene the victim of a heart attack though miranda did have a history of cardiac issues. Her relatives back in pennsylvania had doubts as to whether they had killed her and their suspicion grew when they learned she had taken a drink from the mini bar right before collapsing. They took it as evidence that something else was a foot in just five days later it seemed they were proven right on may thirtieth at the bahia principe romana hotel staff entered a room to clean. They found two guests lying on the floor unresponsive. The housekeepers rushed to get help but it was too late. The couple was already long dead. The resort identified the bodies as sixty three year. Old edward homes and forty nine year old. Cynthia day of maryland. The pair had been scheduled to check out earlier that day. An autopsy revealed they had eerily died from the same cause as david harrison pulmonary dima. All three were cardiac related deaths in which fluid filled their lungs. But in edward and cynthia's case no one called for help. If their hearts gave out at different times one of them should have been able to dial reception but there was no call indicating the two people suffered identical heart attacks at the exact same moment with three dead guests in under a week. The bahia principe chain realized they needed to get ahead of the press. The hotel company released a statement stressing that they were doing everything they could to help the families of the deceased and they would cooperate with local authorities to determine if there was any link between their deaths but it was too late to contain the story. It had already reached america though. The dominican republic investigation was still ongoing. The tourist deaths headlined. Us news networks. Like cbs cnn and fox. Meanwhile americans were canceling travel plans and on june sixth the us ambassador to the dominican republic robin s bernstein made an official statement trying to reassure the public. She acknowledged that authorities were still performing toxicology analysis on homes and day. But so far there was no connection between miranda's death and the other couple but the american public still believed something sinister was going on. in paradise. People contacted new stations with their own terrifying from the same resorts including a wilder montez. Montez had been a guest at the bahia principe bougainville back in october. Two thousand eighteen. It was the same hotel where miranda met her and one year later soon after taking a drink from the minibar a wilda experienced searing pain and vomited blood. Medics reported she had suffered chemical burns to her tongue plus indigestion but that she would be fine. She was lucky she hadn't had more than a sip as it turned out the seven up was not a soda at all. The bottle was full of bleach naturally by he principal apologize claiming it was a terrible mistake. They offered a wilder and her boyfriend their choice of complimentary couples massage and upscale dinner reservation or a few free days at the resort provided. She waved her right to sue. A wilder refused but she eventually decided against legal action. She was furious but she didn't think it was worth it to bring the hotel chain accord and for a while. She believed it was all an accident. A wilda theorized that a cleaning person put bleach in the seven up bottle to make their work easier. Maybe the commercial bleach containers were heavy. And they didn't want to lug them around or perhaps they were trying to save money by sneaking bleach home but they accidentally forgot it in the minibar. Eight months after the accident in june two thousand nineteen. A wilder still did not feel any sensation on her tongue. Still she maintained. It was an accident that is until news outlets. I reported the three deaths at bahia principe hotels. What if the bleach hadn't been a mistake. Now that people were dying a will have to report her story so she called up the new york post and gave an interview. A wilder wasn't the only person reexamining their own experience. Once word got out about the dead tourists people called into new stations presenting one shilling story after another and with all these reports flooding in american authorities took notice on june twelfth. Seventeen days after miranda shop werner's fatal vacation. The fbi joined the dominican republic's investigation. The bureau needed to discover if there was a link between the three deaths and whether they were connected to other accidents happening in the dominican republic more. Recent tragedies were coming to light in june and july two thousand and nineteen three more. Vacationing americans died of unknown illnesses in the dominican republic. These were fifty six year. Old vittorio corozzo fifty-three-year-old leila cox and forty six year old cut adkins by july two thousand nineteen. There were at least twelve dead american tourists. Many of them died immediately. After having a drink from their hotel room minibar and in most cases they died from heart or respiratory issues. Still the fbi needed to investigate all possibilities. Perhaps some had died accidentally from methanol poisoning a relatively common type of alcohol contamination. This would explain the minibar connection given the frequency of these fatalities. They had to wonder if there was more to the poison cop than alcohol and if someone or some entity was behind it all coming up authorities determine whether the americans died of unnatural causes. Hi vanessa from podcast network. And i'm thrilled to tell you that this month marks a huge milestone for us. It's the four year anniversary of podcast. I host called serial killers. If you haven't had a chance to dive into the stories and psychology behind the most nightmarish murderers of all time. Why wait there's no better time than right now to start listening each week. We enter the minds the methods and the madness of the world's most sadistic serial killers from the son of sam david berkowitz and the coed killer edmund kemper to i lean. 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Meanwhile us news outlets warned of the danger of traveling to the dominican republic at the time the us state department's travel advisory for the dominican republic was at a level two or extra increased caution but the reason they gave had to do with quote the wide availability of weapons the use and trade of illicit drugs and a week criminal justice system as far as anyone could tell. The tourist casualties had nothing to do with the threats listed by the state department and the travel advisory was already at level two before the tourist deaths ever happened but by continually connecting the state department's travel advisory to the deaths media companies associated. The two in american minds no doubt officials from the dominican republic felt afraid this publicity might affect tourism to the island and its economy dominican representatives at the american embassy said they were working with the authorities to ensure the safety of tourists in their country and u s representative adriano espaillat planned meeting with dr officials in july two thousand nineteen as the first dominican american member of congress s bayat stated. He still believe that the country was safe but he wanted the bereaved families to have answers. Similarly the dominican republic's minister of tourism francisco. Javier garcia urged people to trust the ongoing investigation would find answers but as time wore on people found that harder to do. It didn't help. That stories of sick tourists were still trickling in one couple who had become ill during a vacation. Back in two thousand eighteen decided to sue the bahia principe law ramana. Their court filing revealed new information that could possibly shed light on the other tourists deaths in june. Two thousand eighteen kaelin no and tom schwender from colorado awoke in the room at the bahia. Principe la romana. The same hotel where edward homes and cynthia day died. Both were drenched in sweat and suffered from splitting headaches and indigestion at first kaelin and tom suspected the ad food poisoning then they noticed a chemical smell coming from event in their room. The couple contacted the hotel staff to fix the issue but struggled to communicate with them since neither kaylynn. Tom spoke any spanish eventually reached a manager. Who apologized and upgraded them to a luxury suite but their symptoms kept getting worse. Eventually they decided to cut their losses and leave paying an extra six hundred dollars to fly home early when they returned home. Doctors couldn't identify their illness. But eventually one came up with a possible diagnosis. The couple could have been poisoned by organo-phosphates. A type of toxic pesticide. Ceylan remembered seen staff members spring plants throughout the hotel perhaps the gardeners had inadvertently contaminated the resorts ventilation system with deadly toxins. When the couple heard about the may two thousand nineteen deaths at various bahia principe resorts. They decided to sue the hotel and make their allegations public. Once they entered the spotlight they discovered that many other people had similar experiences. Allegedly over a dozen tourists spoke to kaelin tom about their cases. Many of them had also smell suspicious chemical in their hotel rooms. Perhaps they too had been poisoned by pesticides coupled with the bleach left in the seven buttle it seemed like the bahia principe chain had a pattern of negligence that frequently endangered their guests. Either that or someone was targeting them. A wilder montanez header own theory about this. She suspected she was intentionally poisoned as a victim of misplaced rage a will theorized that a disgruntled employee had taken out their anger or resentment on the hotel guests in her words. Many people in the dominican republic live in poverty. Perhaps someone who worked at the hotel grew tired of watching others enjoy vacation at their expense so they decided to lash out. It's definitely possible but it doesn't seem likely for one. It plays into unproven assumptions and stereotypes about poverty. Besides which many feel a more likely culprit was inside every room where an accident or death happened. either it was hiding in the minibar or it had to do with the chemicals. Used by hotel staff spurred by the media allegations some hotels rush to make sure their guests were kept safe in late. June two thousand nineteen vacationers at the hard rock hotel and casino at poona khanna notice changes tourists reported seen staff members wearing face masks and plastic gloves. The hotel up there cleaning procedures and removed all of the alcohol from the guestrooms. Perhaps these new methods help prevent further casualties not purposeful slayings but death by negligence spraying pesticides close to ac units or leaving mislabeled bottles of bleach and a guest room are perfect examples of this and if there really was a rash of customers at bahia principe who experienced symptoms of pesticide poisoning then that hints so possible poor management going on at that specific chain but just like the possibility of murder. We lacked the hard evidence to tie the deaths back to health and safety standards. Yes we have these individual incidents but no comprehensive data showing a larger trend of chain wide negligence and as the f. b. i. Continued its investigation. A totally different conclusion began to take form up next the fbi reveals the findings of its inquiry. This episode is brought to you by mcdonald's. 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That's equivalent to ten free meals when you sign up that's home chef dot com slash spotify for ninety dollars off and now back to the story by the summer of two thousand nineteen. At least twelve. American tourists had died in the dominican. Republic of unknown causes even as the fbi became involved dominican officials maintain that terrorist died of natural causes sudden. Unexpected tragedies can happen anywhere even on vacation and though the deaths were shocking perhaps neither poisoning nor negligence was to blame. Many of the tourists who died had pre existing health conditions. Both edward homes and cynthia day had heart medication in their room indicating that at least one of them already had cardiovascular issues one or both of them could have neglected their medical routines on what started as a couple of skip. Doses may have snowballed ending in disaster. Also many prescription medications will react badly. When taken with alcohol this could explain what happened to miranda shop werner who suffered from a similar heart condition after enjoying a drink after her death in argument broke out between miranda's husband and her family her husband. A doctor agreed with the officials story that she died from heart disease but her family believed she was another victim of whatever was killing tourists. Her death felt too sudden too random. In this case miranda's husband seems a more trustworthy source. He lived with her and was closely aware of her specific medical issues. And when we look at the deaths in context of pre existing medical conditions. They suddenly seem much less sinister. According to health officials the most common cause of american tourist fatalities abroad are cardiovascular issues. The frequency is also high for pulmonary edema which killed four of the tourists pulmonary. Edema or wet lung isn't uncommon in americans more than two hundred thousand people develop pulmonary dima per year in the us. So it's not terribly surprising that four vacationers on an island that sees roughly three million american tourists a year all suffered from the same disease. The mayo clinic also advises patients with pulmonary edema to limit consumption of alcohol. This supports our indulgence theory. A drink from the mini bar could have been the catalyst for some of these deaths. And according to the cdc in two thousand nineteen chronic respiratory illness was the fourth leading cause of death in the united states. The tourists who died in the dominican republic of respiratory issues were not anomalies. Still some remain suspicious that the tourists were dying at the same hotel. Chain the bahia principe. But this isn't entirely true. The tourists who died stated different resorts often in completely different cities. Most of the incidents in punta cana and laura mono- those two municipalities are thirty nine miles apart end at least one. Death occurred in so su'a which is a town on the opposite side of the island. More than two hundred miles away from both punta cana and lara mono- taking it all into consideration. It's incredibly unlikely. These unfortunate incidents were connected for most of these tragedies. The families of the deceased immediately accepted the official story. They only suspected a conspiracy when they heard about other deaths and about people being poisoned by pesticides and bleach. But one of those near misses may not have happened at all. Kaelin null and tom schwender. I blamed pesticides for their illness after their doctor suggested it but he made it clear he did not have enough data to make an official diagnosis and while kaelin and tom claimed they discovered dozens of people with similar stories. None of those witnesses have ever come forward if pesticides worthy issue. The couple's symptoms should have stopped once they moved to a different room and if these toxins had infected every room in the hotel then the staff and other guests shoot if complained the bahia principe. Romana has four hundred rooms. If the entire hotel was contaminated there would have been hundreds of people reporting similar symptoms. But no one else did and remember. The two didn't file their million dollar lawsuit until a year after their vacation. After the other tourists deaths had hit the news. I don't know much about kaelin and tom. But were most likely dealing with is an opportunistic couple who got sick on vacation in wanted to recoup their losses. Meanwhile the two thousand nineteen deaths were enough to get the fbi involved and after months of investigation. They were ready to release their findings on october. Eighteenth two thousand nineteen. The fbi published their toxicology results. They determined that the deaths of miranda shop warner edward homes and cynthia day were not due to methanol poisoning meaning. They hadn't had contaminated alcohol. They also reported that they were not seeing an uptick in tourist deaths either in the dominican republic or elsewhere well. Twelve american casualties may seem like a lot. It reflected normal. Lbs unfortunate statistics of americans. Dying abroad so as far as the fbi tell these events were just as random as they initially seemed and unrelated. There was no single cause for these twelve deaths. They were all isolated tragedies that failed to reflect an increasing trend of danger in the dominican republic. No one was stocking. Visitors are planning to poison them in their beds perhaps the litigation against bahia principe reveal a pattern of dangerous errors but if the chain has any responsibility it's due to neglect not some premeditated vendetta against their own patrons. The main reason that these cases seem related is quite simple grief when friends and family lose a left one. It's tempting to look for blame. The news media latched onto this frustration and spun it into a shadowy plot devised to hurt americans a few networks even implied links between the tourist desk and aided stories they reported incidence of americans being robbed and brutally beaten in other areas of the island. Many of them referenced. The pre existing travel advisory while failing to provide the actual reasons behind it. The hotel deaths had nothing whatsoever to do with this warning. If twelve americans died of heart attacks while visiting italy the italian minister of tourism wouldn't need to make a statement clarifying that. The authorities have nothing to hide yet. This is exactly what happened. In the dominican republic we should also point out that out of the roughly three million americans that visit the island every year. Only twelve of them died in two thousand nine thousand nine hundred that means that if you visited a resort. Your chance of dying unexpectedly is four. Millions of a percent to attach collective significance to just twelve deaths across an entire island. Country is as irresponsible as spraying pesticides above. Ac humans are rational creatures. We look for patterns and explanations to help us cope but sometimes the connection just isn't there and that doesn't make the laws any less poignant but placing blame or spreading baseless theories also. Doesn't help us agreed. And move on and it won't help us. Honor our loved ones. thanks again. For tuning into unexplained mysteries we will be back next time with a new episode for more information on the tourist deaths in the dominican republic amongst the many sources we used. We found the washington post article. Eight questions about the unexplained tourist deaths in the dominican republic answered by hannah samson extremely helpful to our research. You can find all episodes of unexplained mysteries and all other spotify originals from cast for free on spotify in remember. Never take we. Don't no for an answer. Unexplained mysteries is a spotify original from podcast. Executive producers. Include max and ron cutler. Sound design by brendan hawkins with production assistance by ron shapiro carly madden and freddie beck league. This episode of unexplained mysteries was written by matthew team. Stra with writing assistance by molly. Quinlan and ali wicker fact checking by kara macro lean and research by brian pizzas unexplained mysteries stars molly. Brandenburg and richard rosner listeners. It's vanessa again before you go. Don't forget to check out the spotify original from podcast serial killers each week. Join me and my co host greg. For a deep dive into the minds and madness of history's most notorious murderers you can binge hundreds of episodes four years worth and catch new episodes every monday and thursday. Listen to serial killers freon spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

dominican republic mitsubishi miranda wilda bahia principe wilder kaelin mcdonald david harrison wilder montez Bahia principe bougainville re fbi Yvette alfred boogie flushing queens Starring taylor takahashi tayl possible time magazine yvette yvette monet werner