Dominican Republic deaths: FBI testing minibar samples from Bahia Principe resort after spate of tourist fatalities
The FBI is reportedly analyzing alcohol samples from at least one minibar at the popular Bahia Príncipe resort in the Dominican Republic to see if the hotel alcohol is to blame for a recent series of tourist deaths in the country.
At least nine American citizens have died in the Dominican Republic over the past year, according to information from the US State Department.
Ministry of Health communications director Carlos Suero on Wednesday said that toxicology tests were being run on the samples to check if anything is amiss, according to CNN.
The FBI announced its involvement in the case last week, with law enforcement sources telling the New York Post that agents were collecting blood samples from the victims who died under mysterious circumstances in the country.
Reports state that many of the victims died at one resort — the Bahia Príncipe, and at least three of them had drank the alcohol at the resort before their deaths. Law enforcement officials are now trying to figure out whether the victims drank the resort liquor before their deaths, and if the drinks had any dangerous chemicals in them.
Suero said that the FBI was comparing samples from the minibar to samples of blood taken from at least three of the nine American tourists who died in the country over the past year.
Reports state that the results of the test are expected to take nearly 30 days.
The three victims were reportedly found dead in their room at the Bahia Príncipe Hotel in La Romana back in May. One of the victims, 41-year-old Miranda Schaup-Werner from Pennsylvania, collapsed and died after allegedly drinking from her hotel room's minibar.
Other victims, 63-year-old Nathaniel Holmes and 49-year-old Cynthia Ann Day, were found unresponsive in their room days later. There were no signs of violence or foul play. The pair's deaths came almost a year after a 51-year-old Philadelphia resident Yvette Monique Short suddenly died while staying at the same hotel. Short's sister has claimed that she drank from the minibar, went to bed and never woke up.
Meanwhile, a couple from Colorado is suing the hotel's owners, claiming that they became sick after staying at the hotel but managed to survive.
Kaylynn Knull, who was at the hotel with her boyfriend Tom Schwander, said: "I honestly believe the truth needs to be told. This sounds way too similar at the same resort."
Dominican Republic public health officials, however, have denounced the reports of the deaths at luxury resorts in the country as "fake news," aimed at hurting its thriving tourism industry.
After the reports of the deaths, many tourists have vowed to avoid the country, which attracts nearly five million tourists every year.