Boyfriend Detained in Cancun Strangling Death of Missouri Woman

Boyfriend Detained in Cancun Strangling Death of Missouri Woman
Tamra Turpin
Source: Tamra Turpin Facebook

03/07/2016 AT 09:05 AM EST

A Missouri woman was found strangled to death last week in a vacation home in Cancun, Mexico, and her boyfriend was later detained at the airport while trying to leave the country, according to reports.

Tamra Turpin, 36, of Union, Missouri, was found dead Wednesday in a condo she had rented with her boyfriend, John Loveless, 59, reports the Associated Press. A forensic examination determined she had died of asphyxia by strangulation, the AP said.

Loveless was later detained at the Cancun airport as he was preparing to board a flight to Atlanta. He faces a criminal homicide investigation, the AP said.

The U.S. Embassy in Mexico confirmed Turpin's death and released this statement: "We offer our sincerest condolences to her family and loved ones on their loss. Our consular staff is providing all possible consular assistance. We are also aware of reports that a U.S. citizen has been arrested in connection with her death."

The embassy referred further questions to Mexican authorities.

Turpin had gone to Cancun on vacation with Loveless, a local attorney, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, which spoke to Turpin's sister, Jodi Mills, and her cousin, Julie Burr. The couple had known each other for about a year and had vacationed together before, the women said.

"She was a wonderful, sweet girl," said Mills.

"We were in shock," said Burr. "I never expected anything like this."

Turpin's mother, Evalena Duncan, was also shocked.

"It's very difficult, very difficult," she told KSDK-TV. "And we're just praying that the truth be known, and [we're] trying to deal with comprehending that she's gone."

Duncan added: "Prayers are needed for our family, prayers are needed for the family of [her] companion also."

The AP said Loveless was in custody in Playa del Carmen and that he appeared before a judge on Friday but declined to make an official declaration in the case.

Turpin's family has set up a GoFundMe page to raise money to bring her body back home, which they estimate will cost $8,000.
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