Bodies of missing Canadian, American found in Belize: friends
Published Monday, May 1, 2017 8:55AM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, May 2, 2017 9:13AM EDT
The bodies of a missing Canadian woman and her American companion have been found in Belize, according to friends and a local media report.
Francesca Matus, 52, and Drew De Voursney, 36, had been missing since last week.
Breaking Belize News reported late Monday that their bodies had been found by a search party in a cane field at approximately 5 p.m. local time, in Chan Chen Village in the country’s northern Corozal District, near the Mexican border.
Nancy Rifenbark, a friend of Matus and De Voursney who had been helping in the search, confirmed the report to CTV News, along with another friend. However, police have not yet given their own confirmation.
De Voursney’s friend, Brandon Bar, wrote in an update on a GoFundMe page he created on Friday, that he received a call from Belize on Monday evening confirming that his friend was dead. Bar also revealed that he met De Voursney while they were serving in the U.S. Marines in Fallujah, Iraq in 2004. He said his friend moved to Belize last fall.
Earlier Monday, police said they had located a vehicle belonging to Matus. Her white Isuzu Rodeo SUV was discovered in a cane field near the village of Paraiso, also in Corozal, on Sunday afternoon, Const. WPC Chan of the Corozal Police Department confirmed to CTVNews.ca. De Voursney’s brother told The Canadian Press that Matus’ vehicle was found about 15 kilometres from the bar where they were last seen a week ago.
A friend of Matus, Jacqueline Logan of Toronto, posted a message about her friend’s death on her Facebook page on Monday.
“I choose to remember my dear friend, Francesca Matus, with a huge smile, laughing as she walks into the room, hugging everyone, looking like a million bucks,” she wrote. “She was truly larger than life.”
Logan also thanked the family and friends who supported the search for the couple when they were missing.
Matus, a mother of two sons, and De Voursney were last seen leaving a local bar at around 11 p.m. Tuesday night. Matus’ friend, Joe Milhoen, went to pick her up at her home in Corozal on Wednesday morning to drive her to the airport, but she and De Voursney were nowhere to be found.
Matus’ vehicle was not in the driveway and her suitcase and passport were still inside the home, according to Milhoen.
Const. Chan said police didn’t find anybody inside the vehicle and that she wasn’t aware of any other evidence discovered at the scene. She said the SUV is now in the possession of the Corozal Police Department for further investigation.
Const. Chan said police didn’t find anybody inside the vehicle and that she wasn’t aware of any other evidence discovered at the scene. (Breaking Belize News)
Nancy Rifenbark, a friend of Matus and De Voursney who was with them at the bar on the last night they were seen, told CTVNews.ca on Monday that another search party was organized by local volunteers on Monday to search the area where the vehicle was found.
Global Affairs Canada confirmed that they’re aware of reports of a Canadian citizen missing in Belize, and that consular officials were in contact with local authorities.
The U.S. State Department also said they’re aware of reports of an American citizen missing in Belize.
“The welfare of U.S. citizens is one of the Department’s highest priorities. We stand ready to provide all possible consular assistance. Due to privacy considerations, we have no further comment at this time,” they said in an emailed statement to CTVNews.ca on Monday.
Francesca Matus’ white Isuzu Rodeo SUV was discovered in a cane field near the village of Paraiso, located in the northern part of Corozal, Belize on Sunday afternoon. (Breaking Belize News)