Six Men Arrested in Death of American Teacher Found Dead in Dominican Republic

Police in the Dominican Republic have arrested six men and are looking for an additional suspect in the killing of an American teacher who was found dead Tuesday in her apartment in Puerto Plata. The killing has dragged the Caribbean island nation back into the spotlight after a slew of unexplained tourist deaths this year caught international attention, shaking the country’s tourism industry.

Patricia Anton, 63, was tied up and strangled by seven men, police said in a statement. Anton had lived in the province of Puerto Plata for more than 15 years and taught at a local Montessori school for more than six.

Michael Mariñez Rosario, Heuri Flores Hernández, Junior Alexis Suarez, Juan José Andújar Mella, Oroniel Canario Montero and Alexis Maquey were in custody, police said. They had an arrest warrant for a man with the alias of “El Venezolano” — the Venezuelan.

Investigators said the men traveled to Puerto Plata “with the aim of committing crimes of such nature.” They said the men took a cellphone, a laptop computer, a 40-inch television and $80 in cash from Anton’s apartment.

“A horrendous case,” Ramon Brito, a spokesman for the tourism police, told The Washington Post. “We profoundly lament what happened.”

He said crimes against foreigners in the Dominican Republic are “uncommon” and “isolated.”

Four of the six men in custody have criminal records for committing “different crimes” between 2017 and 2019, police said. Two of the men are Haitian.

Anton, who was born in Italy but grew up in Traverse City, Mich., worked as a teacher and consultant at the 3 Mariposas Montessori school in Puerto Plata. The school described her as a “mentor” who could light up a room upon entering.” Anton’s cover photo on Facebook shows a Dominican beach, and many of her posts express her love for the country.

She left a husband, Patrick, two sons, 35 and 31, and a daughter, 28. Her husband, who traveled every week for work, spent the weekends in Puerto Plata with her.

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SOURCE: The Washington Post, Rachelle Krygier