A U.S. Marine veteran and his Canadian girlfriend, who vanished in Belize a week ago before turning up dead Monday, were strangled.
That's the grim conclusion of autopsies performed on 36-year-old Atlanta man Drew DeVoursney and Francesca Matus, 52, of Toronto, whose bodies were found decomposing with duct tape around their wrists.
Police in the Central American country said the bodies were in an “advanced state of decomposition" when they were found — DeVoursney's piled atop Matus' — in a cane field.
The couple had last been seen leaving a bar in Corozal on April 25.
DeVoursney had been dating Matus for a few months and was expected to fly home to Georgia this week. The couple was reported missing when a friend of Matus' went to pick her up at her home last week.
DeVoursney's bicycle was found in Matus' driveway, but her vehicle was missing. That vehicle was later found in a cane field 10 miles from the bar where they were last seen, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
As the investigation into the crime continues, a friend of DeVoursney's and fellow Marine has made it his personal mission to help the veteran's family find peace.
"I met my best friend, Drew Devoursney, while serving in Fallujah, Iraq, in 2004 with 1st Marines. After that, he went back for another tour in Iraq with 11th Marines. Then he served as a contractor in Afghanistan," wrote Brand Barfield in a GoFundMe that he started when the couple first went missing.
After learning the tragic news, Barfield wrote that he accompanied Devoursney's brother to Belize to retrieve the remains.
"David Devoursney and I are now in the town of Corozal, Belize, where the tragedy occurred," Barfield posted Tuesday. "We are gathering up his belongings and will meet with the police tomorrow to retrieve his things from Francesca's house.
"As we were flying out this morning, we received a call saying the body might be cremated/buried before we land. The U.S. Embassy did intervene and asked for the Belizean authority to hold off on any decisions regarding the bodies without the families' consent. The Belizean authority did honor this request.
"A funeral home now has both of Francesca and Drew's bodies. Due to the state of decomposition, we were not able to see the body and will not be able to bring the body home like we had anticipated. Drew's remains will be accompanying us home to Atlanta, where his mom and brother reside.
"We are, now, seeking to hire a private investigation firm to have a second look into his death because we want to truly exhaust all resources for Drew and his family. They deserve justice and peace."