Two U.S. representatives from New York are calling for an FBI investigation into the deaths of a couple from Mount Vernon who apparently died on their way to the airport after a romantic getaway in the Caribbean.
Reps. Eliot Engel, who represents the 16th District, and Adriano Espaillat, who represents the 13th District and is from the Caribbean nation where the couple vanished in late March, met Wednesday with U.S. Ambassador to the Dominican Republic Robin Bernstein about the case of Orlando Moore and Portia Ravanelle.
A letter the two wrote to FBI Director Christopher Wray dated the same day read: "The FBI must work quickly to conduct a thorough investigation regarding details of their reported deaths that raise questions for us. It is essential that this investigation be conducted expeditiously so that both families can receive the closure they deserve."
In that letter, Reps. Engel and Espaillat specifically asked for a full investigation followed by a summary brief, a complete timeline of events from the couple's arrival to the Dominican Republic through April 9, assistance to help get the rental car out of the ocean, which authorities have thus far been unable to do; and a detailed report on FBI cooperation with Dominican authorities.
They said the mayor of Mount Vernon had reached out to them out of concern. In a statement, Mayor Richard Thomas said Mount Vernon was "determined to get the full facts," citing "too many unanswered questions" and "suspicious circumstances surrounding the deaths of our citizens who vanished on vacation."
It wasn't immediately clear if Wray had responded to the letter as of Friday morning.
Moore, 41, and Ravanelle, 52, had flown out of Newark Liberty National Airport on March 23. They were supposed to return from their Dominican getaway four days later, but were never heard from again. Their phones were off, their car still parked at the airport in Newark. Dominican authorities later contended the got into some accident on the way to the airport to fly home March 27 and their rental vehicle plunged into the ocean. The same day they were supposed to fly home, a woman's badly injured body was found on the side of a highway.
She died a few days later -- and was identified through fingerprints as Ravenelle. A body thought to be Moore was found in the Caribbean Sea on March 31 inside of the vehicle Dominican officials believe was the car they had rented.
The body found in the sea has yet to be identified because of its condition, officials have said. Photos of tattoos were sent to Moore's brother in the U.S. in hopes of expediting an identification.