Authorities in Belize are investigating two new murders of North American tourists, 16 months after ABC7Chicago Digital Executive Producer Anne Swaney was killed while vacationing there.
As Belize officials are still grappling with the unsolved murder of Swaney in January 2016, a former U.S. Marine and his girlfriend have been found strangled. The new heartbreak in Belize appears to have been a robbery gone bad. And while there is no reason to believe the murders are connected, they are part of a violent crime wave that rarely results in justice.
"Horrible. It's just been horrible," said Char DeVoursney, mother of victim.
For the mother of ex-Marine Drew DeVoursney, things got worse shortly after the interview she filmed in Atlanta.
DeVoursney, 36, and his Canadian girlfriend 51-year-old Francesca Matus were found dead near her SUV in a sugar cane field about nine miles from the bar where they were last seen.
Police said there was evidence they had been restrained with duct tape, and the cause of death was strangulation. That is the same way Swaney was killed in January 2016 while vacationing in western Belize.
Swaney had traveled from Chicago to an eco-ranch near the border with Guatemala about 145 miles southwest from where the latest attack occurred, not far from the Mexican border.
As the I-Team reported following Swaney's murder, Belize has the third-highest per capita murder rate in the world and most killings there go unsolved, unprosecuted and unpunished. The FBI is currently offering a $20,000 reward in the Swaney case.
While there is no apparent connection, police and the FBI have no suspects in either attack.
There was a search for DeVoursney and Matus most of last week while his loved one in Atlanta held out hope.
"Talking with everyone down there, it's a complete mystery, it's totally uncommon for both of them to disappear with no contact," said David Devoursney, brother of victim.
"Their passports were where they left them, nothing like that had been disturbed," Char said.
Matus was supposed to leave the next day to return to Canada. She and DeVoursney were thought to have been carrying a quantity of cash at the time they were killed. Whoever did it managed to overpower the former Marine, who was 6 ft. 6 in. In addition to the Swaney murder, several other Americans and Canadians have been killed in Belize since 2014.
Former U.S. Marine and girlfriend found strangled in Belize
An ABC7 I-Team Report