Unidentified Bodies Found in Dominican Republic Maybe Those of Missing New York Couple, Local Police Say

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A press conference held Tuesday in the Dominican Republic revealed the bodies of two people who died in a car crash had been found, and local authorities believe they are those of a missing New York couple.

Orlando Moore and his girlfriend, Portia Ravenelle had traveled to the Caribbean nation on March 23 from Newark Liberty International Airport. They were due to return home to Mount Vernon four days later, but worried family members have said they’ve gotten no signs of the couple.

Orlando Moore and Portia Ravenelle
Orlando Moore and Portia Ravenelle haven’t been seen or heard from in almost two weeks after they failed to return from a romantic getaway to the Dominican Republic. (Image courtesy of couple’s social media page)

The couple rented a car in the Dominican Republic and apparently used it to head to the airport for their return flight. A car was found in the water on Tuesday, according to NBC New York. While officials have been unable to retrieve it due to current conditions, they anticipate it is the same one the couple used to drive to the airport.

It’s not clear how the vehicle wound up in the ocean, but fishermen said they heard a “rumble” coming from the Las Americas Highway in Santo Domingo East, which leads to the airport, NBC News reportedfrom a translated statement from the National Police of the Dominican Republic. The fishermen said they found a woman on the road in serious condition.

At a Spanish-language news conference on April 9, police in the DR said a woman was discovered unconscious on the side of a road on March 27 — the day Ravenelle and her boyfriend were due back home. The woman, who was carrying no identification when found, had traumatic injuries. After being hospitalized in the intensive care unit, police said she died on April 4.

Meanwhile, fishermen reported a vehicle in the ocean and a man’s body was found in the ocean on March 31, according to police. The body had characteristics that resembled Moore’s — a tattoo reading “Milano” — and was located in a car in the Caribbean Sea, roughly 13 miles from site where authorities believe the couple got into a car accident on their way to the airport; they were last confirmed to have checked out of the Grand Bahia Principe Cayacoa hotel in Samana.

The current theory among local police is that the car Ravenelle and Moore are believed to have been traveling in veered off the roadway and into the ocean in the early hours of March 27, CNN reported.

Police also noted no identification was on either of the bodies, but they matched a description for the couple. They hope fingerprints or other evidence will confirm their identities; the bodies have been sent for autopsies.

The U.S. Department of State said it was working closely with local officials in the Dominican Republic to investigate the matter.

No foul play is suspected in the couple’s disappearance.

The news follows Moore and Ravenelle’s concerned family members speaking to NBC New York earlier this week. They said they got in touch with U.S. Customs who said Moore did not make his return flight.

“We’ve been calling DR and they said they didn’t make their flight,” Moore’s sister Lashay Turner said to the N.Y. news outlet. “We also spoke to someone in U.S. Customs and they said my brother did not make his flight back here.”

“This is definitely not my brother,” she said. “He’s not going to run off on a hiatus and don’t tell his family and his daughter. I’m scared, I don’t know what’s going on.”

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