On March 26, two Americans' last scheduled night in the Dominican Republic, the couple shared a final drink in town with their new Canadian friends, reported CNN. Then Orlando Moore and Portia Ravenelle said goodbye, packed their bags and climbed into their rental car for the long, dark drive to the airport.
Their plane was scheduled to depart from Santo Domingo about 2 a.m., CNN reported, but Moore and Ravenelle did not board it. They did not return their rental car, either. Social media posts stopped. Both their phones went dark.
Back home in upstate New York, friends and family panicked. Moore's sister Lashay Turner told NBC New York that she reached out to the U.S. Embassy in the Dominican Republic and filed a police report. They launched a frantic search and shared photos of the couple on social media.
For two weeks, they went without answers.
On Tuesday, Dominican authorities came forward with a theory for the couple's mysterious disappearance. Moore and Ravenelle were in a car crash on their way to the airport, authorities said in a statement. Both were presumed dead.
The National Police on the Caribbean island have not disclosed details of the car crash, which authorities said happened near kilometer marker 19 on Las Americas highway - a lengthy stretch of road that runs parallel to the Caribbean Sea. Authorities said there was not evidence of foul play.
Police did say where Moore and Ravenelle were found.
Ravenelle, they said, was discovered on the side of the road with severe injuries the day of the crash. She did not have identifying documents and was taken to a local hospital, where she was treated in the intensive care unit. The woman died there on April 4 - nine days after the alleged car crash.
Authorities said they recovered a body presumed to be Moore's from the water on March 31 near Sans Souci, about 13 miles from the location of the car crash. The body was in an "advanced state of decomposition," Dominican authorities said in a statement, making it difficult to identify. But they found a tattoo on the person's arm that matched one Moore had, police told CNN.
Fishermen reported seeing a vehicle at the bottom of the Caribbean Sea, police said, though authorities had not yet been able to recover it because of rough waters.
Dominican authorities said Tuesday that both bodies had been sent to the National Institute of Forensic Pathology for identification and autopsies. In a statement Wednesday, the U.S. State Department confirmed Ravenelle's death, but it did not comment on Moore.
Officials in the U.S. have not released information on how the two died.
"We offer our sincerest condolences to the family on their loss," a State Department spokesperson said. "We are closely monitoring local authorities' investigation into the cause of death. We stand ready to provide all appropriate consular assistance. The U.S. Department of State and our embassies and consulates abroad have no greater responsibility than the protection of U.S. citizens overseas. Out of respect to the family during this difficult time, we have no further comment."
Friends and family of Moore and Ravenelle expressed devastation at the news and confusion about the way police say they died.
Francesca Figueroa, who ate dinner and watched a movie with the couple the night before they left for the Dominican Republic, told CNN that on March 31, she spoke to a U.S. Embassy representative who told her "no bodies were found, there were no dead bodies reported, no accidents, no one was in jail."
She felt a sense of relief, Figueroa told CNN, until Tuesday.
Figueroa said she had known Moore for 25 years and considered him family.
On Tuesday, Figueroa said she spoke to authorities about her friend and confirmed a tattoo on Moore's arm of his daughter's name, "Milan."
"Everybody is devastated," Figueroa told CNN.
Moore was widely known in their town of Mount Vernon, New York.
Figueroa said she is "saddened" it took so long to find out what happened - their families left in the dark, Ravenelle alone in the hospital.
"She had to die by herself," Figueroa told CNN. "When one of us could have been there holding her hand."
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)