SEVERE WX : Wind Advisory - Winter Weather Advisory View Alerts

How a missing couple from New York spent their last day in the Dominican Republic

A New York couple has been missing for almost two weeks following a vacation in the Dominican Republic.

Posted: Apr 9, 2019 1:00 PM
Updated: Apr 9, 2019 1:00 PM

Cheryl Freeman shared just a day of vacation bliss in the Dominican Republic with Orlando Moore and Portia Ravenelle.

But her memories could help determine the whereabouts of the missing couple.

Moore and Ravenelle were supposed to return to New York from the Dominican Republic on March 27, Moore's half-sister said.

But Moore's family has not heard from him since he left for the Dominican Republican on March 23 from Newark Liberty International Airport, Lashay Turner said. The couple left a car at the airport.

Police on the island have not publicly confirmed the identities of the missing couple. Manuel Mateo, the captain of the Dominican Republic's National Police, said the agency is investigating the disappearance of a couple from New York.

Investigators are meeting Monday night to gather details to release to the public, National Police spokesman Col. Frank Felix Durán Mejia told CNN. It is not clear when the information will be released.

In the meantime, Freeman and her boyfriend are believed to be among the last people who spent time with the couple on their final day in Samana, a resort town about 2.5 hours from the capital of Santo Domingo.

Freeman fondly remembers the couple, whom she had hoped to keep in touch with after she returned to Canada.

"They were very sweet people," said Freeman, an accountant in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

"Orlando is so friendly he could make friends with anyone."

This is Freeman's account of the time she spent with the missing couple.

A chance encounter on a cart ride

Freeman and her boyfriend Carter Warrington stayed at the same all-inclusive resort as Moore and Ravenelle, the Grand Bahia Principe Cayacoa.

On the morning of March 25, the two couples met on a cart ride from their villas to the breakfast buffet, Freeman said.

Immediately, the couple was friendly and invited Freeman and Warrington to eat breakfast with them.

After breakfast, the couple parted ways and exchanged emails so they could meet up the next day, Tuesday, March 26.

Horseback riding and waterfalls

After breakfast Tuesday, the foursome sat by the pool, drinking piña coladas until it started to rain, Freeman said.

They agreed to meet in the lobby at 12:30 p.m. to find a waterfall, Freeman said.

Moore told them he had made friends with the hotel bartender the night before, Freeman said, and the bartender sent them to a friend in El Limón for sightseeing.

Moore drove the four in a white Kia rental car to El Limón, where they met the bartender's friend.

For $20 per person, the friend took them horseback riding up a mountain and down to a valley where they spent the afternoon by a waterfall.

Freeman shared gleeful photos of the couples sharing toasts and sipping drinks from pineapples. In one photo, they smiled and hugged as they posed in front of a waterfall. Another photo captured Moore on horseback.

Concerns arise about driving

At some point in the day, Freeman said she learned that the couple had a flight around 2 a.m. out of Santo Domingo, located roughly 100 miles from their resort.

Ravenelle told Freeman that they got a good deal on the airfare, but she had not realized how far it was from their hotel.

To make it to the airport on time, the couple had rented the car they used for sightseeing, Freeman said. But Ravenelle expressed anxiety about the prospect of driving at night, Freeman said.

Throughout the day, Freeman said Ravenelle was on her phone talking to the rental company about what time they would return the car. Ravenelle also said she was talking to her daughter, according to Freeman.

On the drive to El Limón, Freeman said Ravenelle told them that the rental company warned them to not stop and open their windows for anyone because the locals know which cars are rentals, and try to mug tourists.

During the drive, Ravenelle told Moore not to roll down his window for the men on speed bikes driving up next to their car, Freeman said.

On the way back to the hotel, Ravenelle repeatedly asked Moore if he was sure they had enough gas to make it to the airport. She kept checking to make sure their phones were charged enough to use the GPS, Freeman said.

A disco excursion

After returning to the hotel, the couples separated for dinner, Freeman said. They agreed to meet around 8:30 p.m. to go to a disco in Samana.

At the bar, the couples split a bottle of rum. They also saw the hotel bartender and his wife there, Freeman said.

Again, Freeman said Ravenelle appeared nervous, wanting to leave because she was worried about traveling to the airport and returning the car.

Freeman said she was nervous, too, as a tourist in Samana.

Locals "harassed you constantly and there were always people trying to get you to follow them and do stuff," she said. "I would not recommend it."

They returned to the resort between 9:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. Tuesday. They hugged goodbye in the lobby and promised to exchange photos over email and keep in touch.

"They invited us to come see them in New York and we invited them to Nova Scotia for later in summer."

Freeman said the last thing the couple said to them was that they were going upstairs to pack up and check out.

That was the last they heard from them

After the couple left, Warrington, Freeman's boyfriend, sent Moore an email wishing them a safe flight.

He never heard back from him.

Freeman said she did not realize the couple had gone missing until she returned to Halifax on March 31 and discovered several emails from Ravenelle's family.

Freeman said no law enforcement agencies have contacted her about their disappearance.

Now, details about the resort stick out in Freeman's mind. She noted that there was a security guard armed with a rifle guarding her villa every night at the hotel. She also said the public could access the resort via the beach.

In the brief time she knew her, Freeman said Ravenelle came off as "very cautious, adding that she would be surprised if Ravenelle would have let Moore stop even for directions.

Meanwhile, Moore's family is also searching for answers.

His sister said she filed a police report with Mount Vernon Police on March 29. But the office of the chief said no report was filed about Moore, and the department is not conducting an investigation.

Turner said she has been trying to call law enforcement in the Dominican Republic, but has struggled to get information.

"I'm scared, I don't know what's going on," Turner told CNN.

"My brother's not the type to just run off, and not tell anybody."

New York Coronavirus Cases

County data is updated nightly.

Cases: 2777942

Reported Deaths: 57757
CountyCasesDeaths
Kings35194510985
Queens32876810428
Suffolk2604523698
Nassau2301243339
Bronx2142426810
New York1789954667
Westchester1498342357
Erie1290642084
Monroe1006491262
Richmond934401975
Orange63479944
Onondaga61261825
Rockland56085783
Dutchess38686513
Albany35325420
Oneida34177655
Niagara29802426
Broome29007438
Saratoga25756229
Schenectady19905249
Ulster19554294
Rensselaer18059197
Chautauqua15619197
Oswego14725138
St. Lawrence13412146
Putnam13365101
Chemung13290176
Steuben13064195
Ontario12164121
Jefferson11798108
Wayne10744105
Cattaraugus10379165
Cayuga10015114
Sullivan995990
Genesee8992146
Herkimer8647146
Clinton840848
Fulton8087115
Tompkins769361
Warren767998
Madison7654109
Livingston751378
Montgomery7453165
Washington705283
Tioga660474
Cortland624289
Allegany6238123
Columbia5915115
Chenango576697
Orleans575996
Franklin569127
Otsego561568
Wyoming554869
Greene511390
Delaware465553
Lewis434640
Seneca341570
Essex308938
Schoharie284725
Yates207334
Schuyler203020
Hamilton5273
Unassigned1482
Out of NY0341
Utica
Mostly Cloudy
37° wxIcon
Hi: 52° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 26°
Oneonta
Cloudy
32° wxIcon
Hi: 51° Lo: 33°
Feels Like: 21°
Herkimer
Mostly Cloudy
37° wxIcon
Hi: 55° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 26°
Old Forge
Cloudy
37° wxIcon
Hi: 47° Lo: 29°
Feels Like: 26°
WKTV Radar
WKTV Temperatures
WKTV Severe Weather
2022 WKTV Golf Card only $99.99
Game Day Deals - New Deals Each Week
Stuff the Bus Locations
Saluting Those Who Are Proud 2 Serve