“I understand that [Belize investigators] are doing the best they can, I’m sure, but there are questions that need to be answered,” says Thao Trinh, whose fiancé is the best friend of Drew DeVoursey, a 36-year-old Marine Corps veteran who police reportedly said was strangled at some point before Monday afternoon.
Authorities, who did not return messages seeking comment, have not disclosed a possible motive or suspects in the killings, as their investigation continues.
Trinh tells PEOPLE that her fiancé, Brandon Barfield, is in Belize now with DeVoursney’s younger brother, David. They traveled to the Central American country on Tuesday to retrieve Drew’s remains and personal belongings — and to look for the truth.
Drew and his 52-year-old girlfriend, Francesca Matus, were last seen late on April 25 at a bar in Corozal Town, the capital of Belize’s Corozal District, Drew’s mother, Char DeVoursney, told PEOPLE.
Drew and Matus both lived in the Corozal District, which borders Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula.
That night, they were leaving a farewell party for Matus, who planned to fly to Toronto the next day, Trinh says.
She says neither drank very much at the bar, and they headed home hoping to enjoy some time alone as it was “their last night together.”
They said their goodbyes and then “they were just gone,” Trinh says.
Drew and Matus were reported missing after a friend arrived at her home on April 26 to take them to the airport for her flight, according to multiple news reports.
A search ensued, and Matus’ vehicle — the same one they left in from the bar — was reportedly found Sunday in a sugar cane field. Drew’s mom said the vehicle was in good condition.
On Monday afternoon, about 10 miles away, the couple’s bodies were reportedly found in the village of Chan Chen, their hands duct-taped. They had been strangled to death, police said, according to The Canadian Press, Breaking Belize News and News 5 Live, a Belize TV station.
Police cited an autopsy for that conclusion, according to these reports. But Trinh says that, according to the U.S. Embassy, the bodies were too decomposed for an autopsy.
“There are so many things that don’t make sense,” she says.
For example, she disputes some speculation that the deaths were the result of a robbery gone wrong. Referring to Matus, she asks, “How much money could she have on her on-hand after spending money at the bar?”
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Trinh says that Barfield and David had been unable to see Drew’s body after landing in Belize because authorities said it was a “health hazard.” It was not immediately clear if that had changed.
The fact that Matus’ vehicle was recovered, and in good condition, is also troubling, Trinh says. “Things are not adding up. … There’s just a lot to look into.”
While she says that Drew “was popular” where he lived in Corozal, and never mentioned conflicts with people or being afraid, he did say that the area had gotten more populated, compared to previous trips.
Drew said it was “definitely a different place,” Trinh recalls — and that it seemed that crime had increased.
In a statement, a U.S. State Department official said the American government was aware of Drew’s death.
“We extend our deepest condolences to family and friends,” the official said. “We are closely monitoring local authorities’ investigation into the cause of death. The U.S. Embassy in Belmopan stands ready to provide all possible consular assistance.”
The official declined to provide additional comment “out of respect for the families during this difficult time.”
Char, Drew’s mom, said he moved to Belize in December. He bought four acres in the country about four years ago, as an investment, she said. He previously served two tours with the Marines in the Middle East after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.
Speaking to PEOPLE on Tuesday, Char said she hoped to learn more once David landed in Belize.
“I don’t know anything yet,” she said.
Working with local police and U.S. Embassy officials, who have frequently been in contact with Drew’s family, has been occasionally frustrating, Trinh says.
“I think we would be a lot more confident if we had [an American presence]” to support the local police, she says.
As Barfield explained Tuesday on a GoFundMe page set up for Drew’s case:
“As we were flying out this morning, we received a call saying [Drew’s] body might be cremated/buried before we land. The US Embassy did intervene and asked for the Belizean authority to hold off on any decisions regarding the bodies without the families’ consent. The Belizean authority did honor this request.”
On Wednesday, Barfield wrote that the FBI would be assisting in the investigation. (A spokeswoman for the bureau declined to comment, citing policy to neither confirm nor deny an investigation.)
Barfield and David plan to return to the U.S. on Thursday with Drew’s remains, Trinh says. From there, they hope to hire a private investigator to return to Corozal. A memorial will be held in Atlanta, where Char and David live, with details still pending.
It’s the opposite of the moment that Barfield and Trinh had planned: their wedding day, with Drew as the best man.
Even after his body was found, nearly a week after he went missing, there is more work to do, Trinh says.
“We know this is not the end.”