Police in Belize are now investigating the death of an Ontario mother of two and her boyfriend as a homicide after autopsy results Tuesday showed the pair had been strangled.
The bodies of Francesca Matus, 52, and her American boyfriend Drew De Voursney, 36, were discovered around 7 p.m. ET. Monday in a sugar cane field in the village of Chan Chen, about six kilometres outside of Corozal, an officer at the Corozal Police Department said Tuesday.
The pair were well known in the area. Matus travelled to the Central American country every winter and her family said she considered it a second home.
News of Matus's death got to her family in Canada late Monday, a tragic end to nearly a week of wondering what could have happened to her and hoping she was alive.
"Shocked … sickened … devastated are just a few words that come to mind," Ivana Pucci, Matus's cousin, said via Facebook Messenger when asked how the family is coping.
"Francesca was an amazing human being, and it is a tremendous loss," she said. "We need answers."
Matus and De Voursney hadn't been seen since April 25, when friends watched them leave a bar in Corozal, where Matus lived.
The bodies were found in "advanced state of decomposition" and each had tape wrapped around their wrists, according to police.
On Sunday, police found Matus's SUV abandoned in a sugar cane field outside of town.
According to family, Matus was originally from Sault Ste. Marie and lived in Markham before moving recently to Keswick, Ont., north of Toronto. She worked as a property manager and was the mother of two adult sons.
Described as a "snowbird," Matus spent winters in Belize and owned a beach property in Corozal.
"She absolutely loved it," Pucci said.
Matus was scheduled to fly to Canada last Wednesday, the day after she was last seen.
Joe Milholen, a friend of Matus's in Belize, was supposed to drive her to the airport.
"When I arrived there to pick her up, the gate was closed, and the car was gone," Milholen told CBC Toronto on Saturday.
De Voursney was a former Marine from the Atlanta area, according U.S. media reports. An online fundraising campaign said he served in Iraq and later worked as a contractor in Afghanistan.