Her Brother Died Mysteriously in Anguilla — Now Woman Says Wife, Friends Have 'Something to Hide'
Debanee MacPherson-Udall says she thinks her brother's friends are intentionally sitting on details about her brother's death
The call on New Year's Day 2019 to Casey MacPherson-Pomeroy's mom and stepdad delivered a shock.
Casey was dead, along with his childhood friend Caleb Guillory, on the Caribbean island of Anguilla, where the two men -- with their wives and another couple -- had gathered to spend the holiday.
The person who called was the sister of Casey's newly widowed wife, Barbara, says Casey's stepdad Chuck Pomeroy. Casey and Barbara were then living in Anguilla, where Casey had enrolled in medical school. Caleb and his wife, Carly, and another of the two men's childhood friends, Chuck Gros, and his wife Alisha, had gone to visit them. But details of the deaths were sparse. "I don't recall getting any explanation of anything that made any kind of sense at all," Pomeroy tells PEOPLE in the new issue.
Days later, the four surviving friends dropped by the Pomeroy home in Eagle Point, Oregon, where the men had grown up. "Barbara did almost all the talking," says Pomeroy.
The story she told, as he remembers it: A group including Casey, Caleb and Barbara had stopped by a beach bar on Dec. 30 and ordered a single drink, which Barbara says was left unattended while the group briefly walked away. They then retrieved the drink and took it back to Casey and Barbara's apartment. There, the two men became sick; Caleb died before paramedics arrived, and Casey, who began having seizures, died at a hospital.
"Right from the beginning, they said they were poisoned," says Pomeroy. "Barbara initially, she just told me that the police arrested all of them and took their phones and computers and all that stuff."
For more about this strange story of shattered friendships, pick up this week's issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.
"From the very first, it just didn't feel right to me," he says. "I remembered that as they got up to leave, Barbara very seriously said, 'Hey, do not talk about this. Don't publicize it and talk about it. You'll cause problems.' Then when she came back a couple of days later, she was very adamant about, 'Don't say anything. Don't do anything.'"
"The second time, we asked something about memorials and things and she said, 'No. Don't. Casey would not want that.' The whole point was, she didn't want any kind of notoriety about her, didn't want the word out that the boys had died. That really didn't sit well with us."
Casey and Caleb had both been poisoned, the island's coroner said, by a lethal dose of methylenedioxyamphetamine (MDA, street name Sally) and cocaine, even though neither man was known to use drugs. Caleb's death certificate also noted that he had suffered from asphyxia, strangulation and chest compression; Casey's cited seizure and cardiac and pulmonary distress.
But an inquest into the deaths on the island has stalled because the four witnesses -- Barbara, Carly, and Chuck and Alisha Gros -- have refused to return to Anguilla to tell what they know. All either declined through an attorney or did not respond to multiple requests by PEOPLE to be interviewed.
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The Royal Anguilla Police Force has announced no charges in the case, despite Barbara's assertion to friends that she and Chuck Gros initially were charged with manslaughter but were let go without prosecution, "as we had suffered enough."
When Casey's sister, Debanee MacPherson-Udall, and others held a fundraising event last October to pay private investigator T.J. Ward to look into the case, Barbara and Carly sent a statement reading, in part, "We find their pursuits to be replete with misstatements and believe they are unproductive. We are cooperating with appropriate authorities and do not support or sanction this event in any way."
Says MacPherson-Udall: "I think they all have something to hide."