Nearly one year after a Union, Missouri, woman died on vacation in Mexico, her family is now preparing to travel back to the country.
Mexican authorities found 36-year old Tamra Turpin dead in a Playa del Carmen resort last spring. They said her cause of death was “asphyxia by strangulation.”
Federal authorities detained John Loveless, her boyfriend at the time, at the Cancun airport before he boarded a flight back to the states. Loveless is now charged with murder.
With just a few days’ notice, Turpin's family flew to Mexico last month for a trial. Her mother is expected to testify.
“We all buy tickets, we get down there, we get to the courthouse that morning and they told us it was canceled,” said Turpin’s older sister, Jodi Mills.
In March, Turpin's family will travel to Mexico again. The family faces many hurdles in the legal process: language barriers, an unfamiliar legal system, and — Mills said — little help from the U.S. government.
“We talked to the U.S. Embassy, we talked to the Consulate. Basically, all they're allowed to do is give us a list of attorneys,” Mills said. “I would think there would be some international lawyer that would help navigate us through this system. We know nothing about this system, we don’t know the language. I would think there would be somebody to help us.”
Mills said the family has struggled to communicate with the prosecutors in Mexico. They hired a Mexican attorney to assist them with the case, and said he disappeared after they paid him some money. She said another attorney in Mexico suggested the family tip the prosecutor.
Mills said autopsy photos of her sister show bruising and other injuries that she believes will prove the prosecutor’s case.
5 On Your Side reached out to Loveless’ family for comment on the case and his time detained in Mexico. They did not return our messages.
Turpin’s family said there is a new court date, and they will return to Mexico in early March.
“I hope this is it. I hope we find out and get justice and it’s all over with,” Mills said. “We’re ready for it to be over with.”