PLAYA DEL CARMEN, Mexico - Mexican authorities say a U.S. man is in custody, following the death of his Missouri girlfriend in the Caribbean resort city of Playa del Carmen.

Family members identify the victim as 36-year old Tamra Turpin, from Union.

According to the Associated Press, the Quintana Roo state prosecutors' office says Turpin was found dead Wednesday in a condo she and a 59-year old man had rented.

A forensic examination concluded she died of “asphyxia by strangulation.”

Prosecutors told the AP, the man was detained by federal police at the Cancun airport before he was to board a flight to Atlanta. He faces a faces a criminal homicide investigation in the death of Turpin, with whom he had a relationship.

A U.S. Embassy spokesperson confirmed Turpin’s death, and released the following 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 U.S. Embassy referred further questions to local authorities in Mexico.

Turpin’s family gathered at her home in Union this weekend. They are still trying to figure out how they will bring her body home.

“It’s very difficult, very difficult,” said Turpin’s mother, Evalena Duncan. “And we’re just praying that the truth be known and [we’re] trying to deal with comprehending that she’s gone.”

Family members said Turpin never married or had children. She loved animals, and owned several pets. They said Turpin also loved her family and friends.

“Prayers are needed for our family, prayers are needed for the family of [her] companion also,” Duncan said Sunday evening.

The family expects it will cost at least $8,000 to return Turpin’s remains to the U.S. An online fundraising campaign has already generated thousands of dollars in donations.


The Associated Press contributed to this report.