The FBI is now investigating six mysterious deaths of seemingly healthy Americans who died suddenly at one of two resorts in the Dominican Republic within the past year.
Robert Bell Wallace, 67, of California became ill almost immediately after drinking an alcoholic beverage from his in-room minibar at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino resort in Punta Cana on April 10, and died on April 14 after being hospitalized, Fox News reported.
Pennsylvania’s Miranda Schaup-Werner, 41, also died after consuming a drink from a resort minibar across the island at Bahia Principe Hotel in La Romana on May 25.
Five days later, Maryland couple Cynthia Day, 49, and Nathaniel Holmes, 63, were found dead in their rooms on May 30 at the same resort, though staying in an adjacent sister hotel.
One year ago, Yvette Monique Sport, 51, of Glenside, Pennsylvania, also died after drinking from the minibar at that resort, Sport’s family members told Fox 29.
In July 2018, David Harrison, 45, of Maryland died of an alleged heart attack while vacationing with his wife and their son at the Hard Rock in Punta Cana, which his widow now calls into question given the other recent deaths.
Sport’s death certificate said she died of a heart attack. Preliminary tests are said to have shown Schaup-Werner, Day and Holmes all died of respiratory failure and pulmonary edema.
To date, no cause of death for Wallace has been provided by Dominican authorities. DailyMail.com could not immediately reach the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Punta Cana for comment.
The FBI is aiding authorities in the Dominican Republic in investigating the deaths of SIX American tourists while they stayed at two different resorts within the past 12 months. In July 2018, David Harrison, 45 (left), of Maryland died of an alleged heart attack while vacationing with his wife, Dawn McCoy (right) and their son at the Hard Rock in Punta Cana, which his widow now calls into question given the other recent deaths
On Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention joined other international agencies in conducting tests at the Bahia Principe properties. It was not immediately clear whether other Dominican resorts, like the Hard Rock in Punta Cana, were also inspected.
The FBI confirmed it was assisting local authorities in investigating the deaths.
Harrison’s widow, Dawn McCoy, told CBS News on Wednesday that she was suspicious that a heart attack wasn’t actually to blame for the loss of her husband at the time of his death 11 months ago, and she’s even more doubtful now.
‘I didn’t plan on coming back a widow,’ McCoy said, recalling his death with tears streaming down her face. ‘I wasn’t prepared for what was coming my way.’
Harrison’s widow, McCoy (left), said on Wednesday that she was suspicious that a heart attack wasn’t actually to blame for the loss of her husband, Harrison (right), at the time of his death 11 months ago, and she’s even more doubtful now
Harrison’s (pictured) death certificate from the Dominican said he died of pulmonary edema, just like the three people who died in May, but also myocardial infarction (or heart attack) and arteriosclerosis. McCoy said she didn’t opt for a second autopsy of her husband when she got his body back to the US, but now she wishes she had. When she finally got him home 11 days after his death, she had him cremated
The pair and their then-12-year-old son had gone to the Dominican together to celebrate their anniversary in July, when Harris said he wasn’t feeling well.
‘He wasn’t able to breath. He wasn’t able to talk. He was sweating profusely,’ McCoy said.
In the 25 minutes it took for a doctor to reach their room at the Hard Rock, she said her husband had died.
She said it took a doctor 25 minutes to get to her room, and by that time, her husband, who she had recently had a complete physical was said to be in good health, was gone.
Harrison’s death certificate from the Dominican said he died of pulmonary edema, just like Schaup-Werner, Day and Holmes, but also myocardial infarction (or heart attack) and arteriosclerosis.
McCoy said she didn’t opt for a second autopsy of her husband when she got his body back to the US, but now she wishes she had. When she finally got him home 11 days after his death, she had him cremated.
Another American, Robert Bell Wallace, 67 (shown at right, with his wife), died in April in the Dominican Republic at a Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Punta Cana, six weeks before three other US citizens died at another resort
Wallace is said to have drunk from the minibar and then grew ill, before he died four days later on April 14
Wallace’s niece, Chloe Arnold, said he had been skiing in Lake Tahoe in March, and was generally in relatively good health. Wallace is pictured left and right
Wallace, who also died at the Hard Rock in April, was known to be an avid traveler and was vacationing with his wife to the Dominican Republic to attend his stepson’s wedding.
Wallace’s niece, Chloe Arnold, said he had been skiing in Lake Tahoe in March, and was generally in relatively good health.
‘He was fine,’ Arnold said of her construction business owner uncle.
‘He and his wife arrived there at around midnight on April 10. On April 11 he had scotch from the minibar. He started feeling very sick, he had blood in his urine and stool right afterward.’
By April 13, a doctor at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino resort in Punta Cana determined Wallace needed to go to the hospital, and he was dead on April 14.
‘We have so many questions,’ Arnold said. ‘We don’t want this to happen to anyone else.’
In a statement to Fox News, the US State Department said: ‘We can confirm the death of a U.S. citizen in April 2019 in the Dominican Republic. We offer our sincerest condolences to the family for their loss. Out of respect for the family during this difficult time, we do not have additional information to provide.’
Wallace, 67, of California became ill almost immediately after drinking an alcoholic beverage from his in-room minibar at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino resort in Punta Cana (pictured) on April 10, and died on April 14 after being hospitalized
Approximately 78 miles away, Miranda Schaup-Werner, a psychotherapist from Allentown, Pennsylvania, passed away on May 25 at the all-inclusive hotel after getting a drink from the minibar in her room at the Bahia Principe Hotel’s Luxury Bahia Principe Bouganville in La Romana. Five days later, Maryland couple Cynthia Day, 49, and Nathaniel Holmes, 63, were found dead in their rooms on May 30 at the same resort, though staying in an adjacent sister hotel
Approximately 78 miles away, Schaup-Werner, a psychotherapist from Allentown, Pennsylvania, passed away on May 25 after getting a drink from the minibar in her room at the Bahia Principe Hotel’s Luxury Bahia Principe Bouganville in La Romana.
The woman and her husband, Daniel Werner, had traveled to the popular tourist destination in the Caribbean to celebrate their ninth wedding anniversary.
An autopsy performed by local authorities determined Schaup-Werner’s cause of death to be respiratory failure and pulmonary edema caused by fluid in the lungs. Dominican officials have said she, like Sport, died of a heart attack.
DailyMail.com on Tuesday afternoon spoke to Jay McDonald, who has been acting as a spokeperson for the woman’s family. McDonald said that to his knowledge, Schaup-Werner had voiced no complaints about her health in the days leading up to her sudden passing.
One year ago, Yvette Monique Sport, 51 (left), of Glenside, Pennsylvania, also died after drinking from the minibar at the Bahia Principe resort, Sport’s family members said. Her death certificate said she died of a heart attack. Preliminary tests are said to have shown Miranda Schaup-Werner (right), Day and Holmes all died of respiratory failure and pulmonary edema. To date, no cause of death for Wallace has been provided by Dominican authorities
Schaup-Werner was staying with her husband, Daniel Werner, at the all-inclusive Bahia Principe resort in La Romana (pictured)
He questioned why there appeared to be no toxicology report done as part of the cause of death inquiry.
He also claimed Shaup-Werner’s glass and drink were not tested amid concerns that she may have been poisoned.
The family are particularly alarmed as the incident came so close, in both place and time, to the deaths of the Maryland couple at the same hotel.
‘We don’t understand what’s going on here,’ McDonald said in a phone interview. ‘We have big questions.’
Five days after Schaup-Werner’s death, Maryland couple Cynthia Day, 49, and Nathaniel Holmes, 63, were found dead at the same hotel
Maryland couple Day and Holmes were found dead inside their hotel room at the same resort on May 30.
When their bodies were found, police also found bottles of high blood pressure medications in the room.
Autopsies performed on Day and Holmes found their cause of death to be the same as Schaup-Werner: respiratory failure and pulmonary edema.
Bahia Principe has said it offers a safe and welcoming environment, and that it holds some of the highest certificates in the hospitality industry.
No suspects have been identified related to the deaths, and there has been no evidence of overt violence, Police Colonel Frank Duran told GMA.
Family members of all four deceased hotels guests, though they stayed at two different chains, are now demanding answers concerning the circumstances of their deaths occurring about six weeks apart.
Schaup-Werner posted photos of the room to her Facebook page, and had been relaxing with a drink from the mini-bar in their room
The Bahia Principe hotel confirmed Schaup-Werner’s death in a statement to Fox News, which first reported on the case, saying in part that after the guest was found unresponsive in her room, the hotel doctor responded and had her transported to a hospital in Santo Domingo, where she was pronounced dead on arrival.
The statement made mention of the fact that Schaup-Werner had suffered from heart conditions in the past – a fact that was relayed by her husband during his interview with the local police in the wake of his wife’s death.
McDonald, the surviving husband’s brother-in-law, confirmed that Schaup-Werner had been diagnosed with inflammation around the heart 15 years ago – a condition for which she had been successfully treated.
He told DailyMail.com that the reason Schaup-Werner’s heart condition had even come up in conversation with police was because her husband was ‘casting about’ for a possible explanation.
Shortly after having a drink, Schaup-Werner was suddenly struck with acute physical distress, collapsing to the floor. Her husband immediately performed CPR, a family spokesman said
Miranda Schaup-Werner and her husband were celebrating their nine year wedding anniversary at the Bahia Principe Hotel in La Romana, Dominican Republic
‘He was looking for a way to characterize what happened,’ McDonald said. ‘He was just wildly speculating.’
McDonald said that his brother-in-law recounted for him how on May 25, he and his wife were in their room when she drank a travel-size alcoholic beverage and a ginger ale from the mini-bar.
About an hour later, she sat down to take a selfie, then stood up. ‘She started shrieking and she dropped to the floor,’ McDonald earlier told Fox News. ‘He attempted to do CPR, he tried to resuscitate her.’
Paramedics were summoned to the room by hotel workers and administered a shot of epinephrine, which is commonly used to treat allergic reactions.
Werner told the local authorities his wife of nine years had suffered from inflammation around the heart
Schaup-Werner could not be revived and was pronounced dead.
McDonald said, based on his conversations with her husband, that Dominican authorities determined the cause of death following a ‘very cursory’ investigation.
The family spokesman said when Schaup-Werner’s relatives learned of the deaths of Day and Holmes five days later, they were stunned.
‘We feel for them and understand their shock and horror because we are experiencing the same thing,’ McDonald said. ‘And the situation is so bizarre that it begs comparing notes.’
He said the family contacted the U.S. State Department to express serious concerns over Schaup-Werner’s death and have called for an investigation.
‘After learning of the startling similarity to the incident with the Maryland couple just days later at the same resort, family became alarmed about possible implications.
‘Why didn’t the deaths of the Maryland couple trigger an investigation, following so closely on Mrs. Shaup-Werner’s death? Have there been other deaths?,’ he asked.
McDonald said Schaup-Werner’s body is scheduled to arrive back in the US on Wednesday.
Beyond that, he said her family want US authorities to take over the investigation and have toxicology tests done, which he said had not been done by Dominican authorities.
Based on discussions with a US State Department official, McDonald said he expects the FBI to contact the family in the future.
In describing Schaup-Werner, McDonald said she enjoyed traveling to the Caribbean and clearly enjoyed being in the Dominican Republic.
‘She was friendly, she was bubbly, and lively,’ he said of his deceased family member. ‘She had a lot of life in her.’
Holmes posted that he didn’t want to leave his vacation in week they both passed away
Meanwhile, Dominican Republic’s national police said on Monday that Day and Holmes suffered from chronic high blood pressure.
‘The evidence in the room shows that they might have died from high blood pressure from the heart,’ the agency stated, according to CBS News in Baltimore.
‘We found a lot of medicine used to treat that illness and according to the medical history the family provided, both of them had high blood pressure,’ police said.
Day and Holmes were due to depart one week ago, the same day their bodies were discovered in a room reportedly with ‘no signs of violence’.
A hotel worker found them, but it was not reported whether the medicine bottles were empty.
Diario Libre reported that Dominican Republic’s National Police found in their investigation Holmes had called for a hotel doctor Thursday morning, complaining that he felt ill.
However, he reportedly refused medical care when they showed up.
Day’s sister, Sonya Jackson, told News4’s that the US Embassy had confirmed the deaths.
Police said there was no sign of violence in the couple’s room.
Holmes’ sister said her brother was ‘having a great time’ when she spoke to him a couple of days ago.
In Facebook images posted on May 28, Holmes said he was having fun. In a caption he declared he’d had the ‘boat ride of a lifetime!!!’
He also shared snaps of Day – who has an adult son – posing with a parrot and a monkey: ‘On the way to Saona Island with my baby.’
At one point he wrote: ‘Can somebody please loan me $250,000 bcuz I don’t want to come home!!!!!’
Their bodies were discovered in a room reportedly with ‘no signs of violence’. Pictured is an example of a room at the resort
Vacation snaps show them loved up and having fun in the Dominican Republic this week
He also shared snaps of Day – who has an adult son – posing with a parrot and a monkey
US State Department officials have issued a travel advisory for American tourists heading to the DR, telling vacationers to exercise ‘increased caution’.
‘Violent crime, including armed robbery, homicide and sexual assault is a concern throughout the Dominican Republic,’ the advisory stated on April 15. ‘The wide availability of weapons, the use and trade of illicit drugs, and a weak criminal justice system contribute to the high level of criminality on the broader scale.’
The US State Department sent its condolences to the couple’s families.
‘We are in close contact with local authorities regarding their investigation into the cause of death,’ the Department said in a statement to ABC News. ‘We stand ready to provide all appropriate consular assistance. The U.S. Department of State and our embassies and consulates abroad have no greater responsibility than the protection of U.S. citizens overseas. Out of respect to the family during this difficult time, we have no further comment.’
The resort located in La Romana previously said it is ‘deeply saddened by the incident.’
TIMELINE: American tourists who mysteriously died or were struck down with illnesses in the Dominican Republic
June 2018: Yvette Monique Sport, 51, of Glenside, Pennsylvania, dies after drinking from the minibar at at a Bahia Principe hotel in Punta Cana, in the Dominican Republic. Family said the previously healthy Sport had the drink, went to sleep and never woke up.
June 2018: Kaylynn Knull, 29, and Tom Schwander, 33, woke up in their hotel room at the Grand Bahia Principe with a pounding headache. They returned to the room later in the day, to find a ‘chemical smell’. The couple changed their flights and flew home early.
July 2018: David Harrison dies while on vacation at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Punta Cana to celebrate his wedding anniversary. He woke up struggling to breathe and covered in sweat. He died that same day. His widow said he’d visited the doctor before the trip who’d given him a clean bill of health.
October, 2018: Awilda Montes, 43, of New York, claims she drank a bottle of soda from the minibar at the Grand Bahia Principe resort in La Romana that ‘turned out to be bleach.’ She survived but suffered chemical burns.
April 10, 2019 : Robert Bell Wallace, 67, of California, became ill almost immediately after drinking an alcoholic beverage from his in-room minibar at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino resort in Punta Cana – the same hotel as Harrison.
April 14: Wallace dies in hospital four days after falling ill.
May 25: Miranda Schaup-Werner, 41, of Pennsylvannia, dies within hours of consuming a drink from a resort minibar across the island at Bahia Principe Hotel in La Romana.
May 25: Cynthia Day, 49, and Nathaniel Holmes, 63, of Maryland, check into the Bahia Principe Hotel, La Romana.
May 30: Day and Holmes are found dead in their rooms.
‘Fun in the DR with my baby’: Holmes last posted on Facebook on Tuesday, two days before the bodies were found
The resort released this statement saying it is ‘deeply saddened’ by the couple’s deaths