The FBI says that the American tourists who died while on vacation in the Dominican Republic weren’t poisoned by alcohol they consumed in the country, as some had previously suspected.
The agency conducted toxicology tests on the deceased that ruled out methanol poisoning from tainted alcohol and said its findings were consistent with the results from an investigation into the deaths by Dominican authorities, the U.S. State Department said in a statement to HuffPost.
However, the FBI told BuzzFeed News that their investigation is still ongoing and that they are currently testing for two other toxins in three of the deceased.
“In the interest of providing as thorough an investigation as possible in this challenging case, the FBI is testing for two additional toxins and will provide Dominican authorities with results when tests are complete,” FBI officials told BuzzFeed.
At least 10 people from the U.S. have died, apparently suddenly, from various causes during trips to the Dominican Republic between June 2018 to June 2019, sparking concerns that unregulated alcohol in the Caribbean may be to blame.
The FBI investigated three of the most suspicious deaths that occurred within days of each other in May, including the deaths of a recently engaged couple from Maryland found dead in their hotel room and a Pennsylvania woman who died shortly after arriving to her hotel room.
Both 63-year-old Edward Nathaniel Holmes and 49-year-old Cynthia Ann Day, newly engaged, had internal bleeding and died from respiratory failure and pulmonary edema, which was caused by excess fluid in their lungs, on May 30, according to Dominican authorities. Five days earlier, Miranda Schaup-Werner also died of pulmonary edema, as well as internal hemorrhaging and an enlarged heart, authorities said.
The State Department announced the results of its toxicology reports on Friday. It also alerted the families of the deceased and Dominican officials.
“Methanol poisoning from tainted alcohol was ruled out by the FBI in these cases during the toxicology screening, and it was not the finding in any other cases of U.S. citizen deaths investigated by Dominican authorities,” the State Department said.
Steven E. Bullock, an attorney representing Holmes and Day, remained skeptical over his clients’ deaths, according to The New York Times.
“You had a couple that died of the same ailment at the same time, and they want to say that it’s natural causes,” Bullock told the Times. “I think there’s something for us to continue to look into.”