Disturbing new details have emerged after the family of an American woman who was murdered at Club Med Resort in Turks and Caicos in 2018 hired a private investigator to investigate the unsolved murder.
Marie Kuhnla, 61, mother and longtime public defender from New York City, was strangled to death while on vacation at the Club Med Resort in Turks and Caicos with her friends in October 2018.
As the case of the Long Island native’s murder had not been resolved by local police, his family hired a New York-based private investigator to dig up the cold case.
The family hired Eddie Dowd in 2020 to take the matter further. No arrests have been made in connection with the murder.
An autopsy obtained by NBC’s 4 I-Team recently revealed new details regarding Kuhnla’s cause of death.
“It wasn’t a manual choke from behind, coming from behind. She was beaten, ” Dowd told NBC 4.
“The first sign of aggression was a bruise on his rib. She scratches herself, bruises her knees to her feet. Her underwear is inside out and away from her private parts.
“It is very clear to us that we are the only ones investigating my mother’s murder, not the police,” Rick Kuhnla Jr. said of his mother’s death.
Marie Kuhnla was found strangled to death in October 2018 in the bushes near the Club Med Resort in Turks and Caicos where she was staying. The case is still not resolved
Kuhnla’s family hired a private investigator in 2020 who recently discovered her body was discovered with “bruises on her rib”, “bruises from her knees to her feet” and her underwear “inside out. and torn from her private parts “(Photo: Marie Kuhnla, left, with her son Rick Kuhnla Jr., center, and her husband Rick Kuhnla, right)
His family has filed a wrongful death complaint against Club Med for covering up the murder they say was committed by a colleague and resort guest Frank Yacullo.
“It was a vicious intentional murder,” said the grieving son.
Rick Kuhnla, Marie’s husband echoed his son’s feelings and suspicions of local police and Club Med.
“They just wanted to sweep it under the rug. This is the easiest way to answer that, ”said Kuhnla.
Dowd previously told NBC 4 that the evidence did not appear to show Kuhnla walked to where his body was found.
“She wasn’t walking to this place. What happened was that she was either murdered there and dumped there or she was murdered somewhere else and dumped there, ”Dowd said.
He is investigating whether the body was deliberately allowed to decompose at the island’s morgue before being sent home weeks after the murder as part of a cover-up.
“We want to know what happened and we want justice for my mother,” Kuhnla Jr. said when the family first hired Dowd. “We couldn’t retrieve his body for two months and by that time it was so decomposed that we couldn’t see it.”
The family also points to the resort’s initial public statement claiming that Kuhnla was found near the property, not on it.
Kuhnla’s bruised body was found hidden in the bushes near the resort and a popular beach in Leeward a day after she was reported missing by her friends who were concerned after her disappearance after a day of drinking at the swimming pool of the complex.
His friends say the resort and local police appeared indifferent when they first reported Kuhnla’s disappearance.
“I didn’t see any police, I didn’t see any staff at the resort looking for anyone,” said Kuhlna’s friend Helma Hermans.
Kuhnla’s friends reported their disappearance after drinking at the resort pool, but said local police and resort employees did not appear to be bothered (Photo: Club Med Resort in Turks and Caicos)
No arrests have been made and the murder case remains open over three years later (Pictured: the scene where Marie Kuhnla’s body was found in October 2018)
Kuhnla’s family believe they are the only ones seriously investigating the 2018 murder case (Pictured: the scene where Marie Kuhnla’s body was found in October 2018)
Women who were traveling with Kuhnla have previously expressed their suspicions of another Club Med guest and former employee Frank Yacullo, who they say was last seen with the American.
Hermans claimed that Yacullo became attached to the group and sexually assaulted her before Kuhnla disappeared.
Kuhnla’s family have filed a 2020 $ 10 million wrongful death lawsuit against Club Med. The lawsuit also names Yacullo, another resident of Long Island.
Court documents accuse Yacullo of killing Kuhnla and Club Med of covering up this horrific crime.
Yacullo maintained his innocence and pleaded the fifth when he was impeached in August, Kuhnla family lawyer Abe George said.
Asked by NBC 4 in 2019, Yacullo said he “had nothing to do with it.” I had no interaction with her other than going to the pool.
George said after three years the family are still fighting to get evidence from the Turks and Caicos Islands coroner.
“We don’t just take pictures of crime scenes. We’re talking about the photos they inexplicably hold back, ”said George.
He claims Club Med “failed to take the necessary steps to ensure Marie’s safety” and insists Kuhnla’s death was “absolutely” murder.