The death of a U.S. tourist in Turks and Caicos last week is being investigated as a murder, local police said. The woman was a Long Island resident, public records show.
Marie Kuhnla, 61, was reported missing on Oct. 15, the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force said on its Facebook page Monday night. Her body was found in the bushes near the Club Med resort the following day about 7:05 a.m., and she was pronounced dead at 7:45 a.m., they said. Records list a woman named Marie Kuhnla, 62, with a Wantagh address.
"While I understand the focus of this story is on the circumstances surrounding my mother's death, I would like to take a moment to focus on her life," her son Rick Kuhnla Jr. said in a statement to ABC Eyewitness News. "She was a loving, caring, compassionate woman who I was lucky to have for a mom. If she saw someone who needed help she would help them."
He added that his mother earned her law degree later in life and worked more than 15 years as a public defender.
Marie Kuhnla worked as a family court attorney for the Suffolk County Legal Aid Society, said trial director Bryan Browns.
“She had a great, great reputation” helping families, Browns said.
Nassau County police and the U.S. consulate in Washington had no immediate comment. Club Med could not be reached for comment.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Marie at this time," said Trevor Botting, the acting commissioner of the Turks and Caicos police. "This is an active investigation into the death of Marie."
Police asked anyone with information to contact the Serious Crime Unit or call Crime Stoppers Turks & Caicos at 800-8477.
"I would also ask that the circumstances of the death of Marie are not subject to speculation, but any information is passed to my officers," Botting said.