Everyone needs a nice, relaxing tropical vacation once in a while. When you work five to seven days a week, have kids, responsibilities, and bills to pay, it’s always good to just take a moment for yourself now and then and get away from all of it.
These days though, even the most innocuous tropical getaway seems to be fraught with unseen danger. Whether you’re a mother and daughter vacationing in Cancun or a married woman in the Dominican Republic, danger lurks around every opulent corner of every previously safe resort. Just ask the New York couple who recently made their way to Samana…
41-year-old Orlando Moore, 41 was in love. His 52-year-old girlfriend Portia Ravenelle may have been a few years older, but she was everything that Orlando had been looking for in a partner. The two were happy and wanted to share that happiness in a place without responsibilities for a while, so they decided to take a well-deserved vacation.
Orlando and Portia made plans to take a Caribbean vacation in the Dominican Republic, a place that despite its recent bad reputation, has always been a great place for discerning vacationers to kick back and relax. They flew out of Newark Liberty International Airport for a four-day mini vacation, they were supposed to come back on March 27…
But a vacation of fewer than five days turned into an uncertain two weeks. Nearly thirteen days after Orlando and Portia flew out of Newark Airport, their families still hadn’t heard from them. Their phones were off and their car still lingered in the long term airport parking lot. So what happened to them?
Back home, Orlando’s sister Lashay Turner began to assemble the facts on her own. If the authorities had no leads, she was going to do her best to find out what was going on. The first thing she did was reach out to the U.S. Embassy in the Dominican Republic, the next, was to file a police report…
Authorities in the Dominican Republic were on the case almost immediately, working in concert with police officers from New York. Through cellphone records and credit card receipts, the police were able to determine that the pair did indeed check out of their hotel in Samana on the 27th, they just couldn’t determine what happened next.
There is every indication that the couple enjoyed their four days in the Dominican Republic. They rode horses together, relaxed on the beach, ate at delicious restaurants, drank copiously, and posted much about the whole, happy trip on social media. It’s only after those posts stopped that things became peculiar…
Lashay and the police knew a few things for certain about the day they vanished. They knew that though they checked out of the hotel, Orlando and Portia never made their flight. They may have never even made it to the airport. The couple also had a rental car in their possession that they were supposed to return on that same day, yet that car went missing as well.
“We’ve been calling DR and they said they didn’t make their flight,” Lashay explained in a recent interview. “We also spoke to someone in U.S. Customs and they said my brother did not make his flight back here.” As expected, customs could tell her family very little about what they knew or didn’t know. It was suspicious, but not uncommon…
The Dominican Republic has been the scene of several incidents that have seen tourists severely injured or killed whilst staying there. Recently, a Delaware woman named Tammy Lawrence-Daley was sexually assaulted and beaten nearly to death while venturing out for a nightcap at one of the resorts. It’s something the tourism trade has been looking to keep a lid on, albeit unsuccessfully.
Not the Type
Lashay knew there was something fishy going on. She knew deep down that they weren’t telling her something. After all, Orlando Moore was a father with a young daughter, he was not about to run off and not let anyone know where he was. She worried that if something wasn’t done, her brother might never return to them…
While Orlando and Portia’s families were busy waiting for answers, authorities from the Dominican Republic and the U.S. Customs department were keeping rather quiet about any undue speculation as to what might have happened to the couple. They have cited privacy concerns as a reason for their silence, but many didn’t buy it.
It seemed that they didn’t want to admit that the couple might be dead as a result of some foul play. They simply cloaked their inability to speak on the cases of international travelers in the mask of official business. Nevertheless, they admitted that they were working closely with local law enforcement to find the missing couple. And find them they did…
Edith Walters, Moore’s grandmother, spoke to the press about two weeks after the pair had gone missing. “When these things happen, you always think of the worst, but we are hoping for the best,” she explained. Unfortunately for her and the rest of their families, hope was already too late to help save Orlando and Portia.
Weeks after they had disappeared, police in the Dominican Republic came forward with information on an unconscious woman they believed to have been Portia Ravenelle. She had been found lying unconscious somewhere in the Dominican Republic and was taken to the hospital to be treated for severe trauma and multiple injuries…
The Day She Left
Sadly, the unconscious woman died several days later due to complications from her many injuries. The thing was, the woman had been found on March 27, the very day that Portia and Orlando had planned to fly home. She had also been found, rather suspiciously, on the side of the road; a road which led to the airport.
In time, the authorities released the identity of the woman as well. The body now sitting in the morgue was indeed that of 52-year-old Portia Ravenelle. But why had the local police waited for more than two weeks to report this find and what had happened to Orlando Moore? These were just one of several questions that the Moore family wanted answered…
Four days after the initial body of the woman was found, the police discovered a second body. This body belonged to a man with characteristics similar to those of Orlando Moore. The police had found the body inside a sunken car in the Caribbean Sea. The vehicle itself matched the statistics of the one the couple had been scheduled to return later that day.
The authorities haven’t been able to recover the car from the water due to current conditions but did manage to extricate the man’s body. Their belief now is that Orlando and Portia got into an accident about 12t to 18 miles from the airport and that the car ended up in the sea. But why was Portia’s body found so much earlier and separate, on the side of the road?
Officials at the U.S. Embassy have proven without a shadow of a doubt that the fingerprints of the deceased woman belong to Portia Ravenelle, but have been unable to prove for certain that the driver of the sunken car was indeed Orlando Moore. Decomposition has made fingerprinting useless and they are waiting on tattoo analysis for positive identification.
Until that proof is found, there will continue to be speculation as to what actually happened that day. Unfortunately, even that might not give the Moore family any closure. After all, the only people that knew what happened on that last, blissful day of their vacation are Orlando and Portia, and they won’t be telling anyone anytime soon.