Cana­dian woman, Amer­i­can boyfriend killed in Belize were stran­gled: po­lice

Cou­ple had been miss­ing since last Tues­day when they were last seen leav­ing a lo­cal bar

The Hamilton Spectator - - CANADA & WORLD - LIAM CASEY

A Cana­dian woman and her Amer­i­can boyfriend who had been miss­ing for days in Belize died of stran­gu­la­tion, lo­cal po­lice said Tues­day as the pair’s friends and fam­i­lies were strug­gling to come to grips with their loss.

The bod­ies of Francesca Ma­tus, 52, of Toronto, and Drew DeVoursney, 36, from Ge­or­gia, were found Mon­day af­ter­noon in a sugar cane field in the country’s Corozal dis­trict.

Po­lice said in a state­ment that DeVoursney’s body was found on top of Ma­tus’s body, and both were in an “ad­vanced state of de­com­po­si­tion.”

Au­thor­i­ties said the deaths were be­ing in­ves­ti­gated as homi­cides.

The pair had been miss­ing since last Tues­day when they were last seen leav­ing a lo­cal bar around 11 p.m. Dozens of Cana­dian and Amer­i­can ex­pats were in­volved in the search, scour­ing the beaches, wa­ter­ways and the bush.

On Sun­day af­ter­noon, Ma­tus’s car was found in a sugar cane field about 15 kilo­me­tres from the bar.

Belize po­lice Det. Zamir Noh said the bod­ies were dis­cov­ered late Mon­day af­ter­noon in an­other field “nowhere close to the truck.” Po­lice said au­top­sies con­ducted on Tues­day re­vealed how the pair died.

Friends and fam­ily said Ma­tus and DeVoursney had been dat­ing for sev­eral months.

Ma­tus was sched­uled to re­turn to Canada last Wed­nes­day, but when her friend, Joe Mil­holen, ar­rived at her house to take her to the air­port, her car was gone and the house locked up. Mil­holen said he later found her packed suit­cases, pass­port and trav­el­ling money in­side the house.

Ma­tus had been in Belize since De­cem­ber, said her cousin Ivana Pucci, en­joy­ing life on her wa­ter­front prop­erty. She used to spend win­ters in the cen­tral Amer­i­can country and re­turn to the Toronto area for sum­mer and fall to be with her mother and her two twin sons, aged 22, Pucci said.

“She loved it there and felt safe,” Pucci said. “She did tell us it was law­less there, but she felt safe in her lit­tle com­mu­nity.”

Her boys, brother and mother are griev­ing to­gether in the Toronto area, Pucci said.

Ma­tus grew up in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., as part a sprawl­ing Ital­ian-Cana­dian fam­ily, Pucci said. She moved to Toronto after col­lege and be­came a mort­gage bro­ker, which she still did for half of the year.

She loved the wa­ter and boat­ing in Belize, she said.

“She was 52 in a 35-year-old body,” Pucci said. “She re­ally was such a beau­ti­ful per­son — both in­side and out — and she did not de­serve this. No­body does.”

Pucci didn’t know much about Ma­tus’s re­la­tion­ship with DeVoursney, but said she ap­peared to be happy.

In Ge­or­gia, DeVoursney’s mother, Char, said she learned about her son’s death from the U.S. Em­bassy in Belize. They told her the pair had been mur­dered and found with duct tape around their wrists, she said.

“I’m not able to re­ally do any­thing, kind of just sit and think and cry and that’s all I’m ca­pa­ble of at the mo­ment,” she said.

Her other son, David, was at the At­lanta air­port Tues­day morn­ing with DeVoursney’s best friend, Bran­don Barfield, wait­ing to board a flight to Belize.

“He’s go­ing to go bring my boy home,” Char DeVoursney said through tears.

Drew DeVoursney was a big man with a big heart and a big smile, his mother said.

The six-foot-six for­mer marine had over­come post-trau­matic stress dis­or­der while serv­ing two tours in Iraq, she said.


Cana­dian Francesca Ma­tus is shown in a photo from her Face­book page.

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