3 Deaths, 1 Attack in the Dominican Republic: What We Know and Don't Know About What Happened

Mystery continues to shroud the deaths of a Pennsylvania woman and a Maryland couple who were found dead in the Dominican Republic. The deaths followed an attack on a Delaware woman whose case is similarly raising questions

What to Know

  • Miranda Schaup-Werner, 41, of the Lehigh Valley died May 25.
  • Four days later, Tammy Lawrence-Daley spoke publicly for the first time about her attack.
  • The next day, Nathaniel Holmes and Cynthia Day were found dead in their hotel room.

A trio of mysterious deaths, plus a brutal attack, have cast a dark shadow over a Caribbean vacation hotspot that draws more than 6 million tourists every year.

Miranda Schaup-Werner, a 41-year-old Lehigh County psychotherapist, died at the Luxury Bahia Principe Bouganville in the Dominican Republic on May 25. She and her husband were celebrating their ninth wedding anniversary.

Four days later, Wilmington, Delaware, resident Tammy Lawrence-Daley recounted what she described as a vicious 8-hour beating that happened in January at the Majestic Elegance in Punta Cana. It was the first time she spoke publicly about the attack.

The next day, on May 30, Maryland couple Nathaniel Holmes and Cynthia Day were found dead inside their hotel at the Grand Bahia Principe La Romana, an adjacent hotel on the same Bahia Principe property where Schaup-Werner died.

Coincidentally, Holmes and Day arrived at the resort on the same day as the Pennsylvania woman's death.

Despite the deaths and attack, Dominican Republic officials insist the island is a safe destination for tourists. 

"In over 50 years, this has never happened,"Paola Rainieri de Diaz, President of the Association of Dominican Hotels, said Thursday during a news conference. "We have all been working together and with the embassy to make sure everything is clarified and that an answer to these events does come out."

The attack and subsequent deaths have attracted international attention not just to the island nation but also to the investigations, which remain ongoing. With conflicting reports and continuing developments, this is what we know so far. 

The Deaths: Miranda Schaup-Werner

Miranda Schaup-Werner
Facebook Photo
Miranda Schaup-Werner. See full-sized image here.

Miranda Schaup-Werner arrived at the resort with her husband on the same day as her eventual death.

While inside their room, Schaup-Werner had a drink from the mini-bar and was suddenly struck with "acute physical distress," a family spokesperson said. She collapsed to the floor.

Schaup-Werner's husband, a doctor, performed CPR as he waited for medics to arrive, the family spokesperson said. She was later pronounced dead.

A cause of death has not been determined but preliminary autopsy reports released by the Dominican Republic's Attorney General said that Schaup-Werner died of "heart attacks in the left ventricular wall, pulmonary edema and respiratory failure."

There is still some gray area, however. While the resort claimed that Schaup-Werner's husband confirmed she had a "history of heart conditions," a family spokesperson said she was healthy at the time of her trip.

The spokesperson added that a toxicology report was never completed and that Schaup-Werne's glass and drink were never tested, which contradicts the Office of the Attorney General's assertion that they are awaiting a toxicology report and tissue exams.

Out of respect for Schaup-Werner's grieving husband and family, the spokesperson said there would be no further statements.

Maryland Couple Nathaniel Holmes & Cynthia Day

American Cruise Lines: American Constitution
Nathaniel Holmes and Cynthia Day. See full-sized image here.

Holmes, 63, and Day, 50, were found dead May 30 at the Grand Bahia Principe La Romana, an adjacent hotel on the same Bahia Principe property where Schaup-Werner died.

Causes of death have not been determined but a preliminary autopsy report released by the Dominican Republic's Attorney General presented a long list of health problems for both Holmes and Day.

Investigators also said they found "various" bottles of prescription drugs, including high blood pressure and anti-inflammatory medication, as well as the painkiller Oxycodone.

Police said investigators are looking at the possibility that carbon monoxide poisoning is to blame for Holmes' and Day's deaths but did not confirm whether the couple's room had a carbon monoxide detector.

Sonya Jackson, Day's sister, said the family is having a hard time believing respiratory issues caused the couple's deaths.

The Department of State said in a statement they were "not aware" of any connection between the death of Schaup-Werner and the deaths of Day and Holmes, an assertion that the Bahia Principe also maintains.

The resort said it has been cooperating fully with the investigations into all three deaths.

"In both circumstances, established protocols were followed, and we have maintained open communication with the authorities to provide information and clarification for each case," the resort said in a statement.

The Office of the Attorney General said it was still awaiting results of a toxicology and tissue exams for the couple's death.

The Attack: Tammy Lawrence-Daley

Tammy Lawrence-Daley
Tammy Lawrence-Daley. See full-sized image here.

Tammy Lawrence-Daley was attacked Jan. 29 at the Majestic Elegance resort in Punta Cana, according to a report from the country's National Police Investigations Unit.

It wasn't until May 29 that she publicly spoke about her attack through a Facebook post in which she described being suddenly attacked from behind and brutally beaten for 8 hours.

Lawrence-Daley claimed she was attacked by a person wearing a resort uniform. She said the man forced her into an unlocked maintenance room and beat and strangled her, causing her to lose consciousness multiple times.

"I was kicked in the head, I was beaten with a club. And then strangled again for the kill; at which time he disposed of my body into an area I refer to as the 'hole,'" Lawrence-Daley wrote.

The resort said Lawrence-Daley sought $2.2 million after the attack, and only made her attack public after she was denied compensation. A source familiar with attempts to get compensation for the beating said the couple did indeed seek monetary damages but would not confirm the dollar figure. 

Lawrence-Daley and her husband, Christopher Daley, accused authorities of bungling the investigation. Local officials, however, said they have been impeded by "incongruencies" in Daley's account of what happened to his wife.

Among the claims in question is whether or not Lawrence-Daley was sexually assaulted during her ordeal. A rape kit was conducted, according to both National Police and Daley. However, Daley claimed it took investigators two days after the attack to complete an exam. By then, Lawrence-Daley had already showered and potentially washed away any lingering evidence.

Daley told NBC10 he and his wife filed a formal complaint after the attack. He said they did so at a courthouse in the city of Higuey a few days after the beating and before leaving the country. However, Daley said, they have not received a copy of the complaint despite attempts to get one.

But the country's Office of the Attorney General, as well as Majestic Elegance resort, said the couple, in the presence of a U.S. Embassy official, declined to file a complaint before returning home.

NBC10 reached out to an official at the U.S. Embassy in the Dominican Republic whom Daley said assisted the couple, but the official did not immediately return a phone call and email seeking comment.

The U.S. State Department previously said it is in contact with Dominican authorities and investigating the incident.

No arrests have been made in the case.

Contact Us