The Royal Turks and Caicos Islands police are investigating the murder of an American tourist after her body was discovered near a popular vacation destination.
Marie Kuhnla, a 61-year-old attorney from Wantagh, New York, had been traveling with two colleagues who also worked at Suffolk County Legal Aid in Long Island. She was last seen alive on the evening of Oct. 15 at the Club Med resort in the island’s Leeward area, according to police.
Kuhnla’s travel companions reported her missing to police. The following morning, at about 7 a.m., her body was found hidden in a waist-high bush near a sports field at the resort, police said.
Her son, Rick Kuhnla Jr., told ABC News that his mother earned her law degree later in life and worked more than 15 years as a public defender.
“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,” Rick Kuhnla Jr. said. “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.”
“I do not have any comment on the events or circumstances surrounding her death,” he added.
Bryan Browns, the trial director for the Suffolk County Legal Aid Society, told ABC News Marie Kuhnla worked as a family court attorney.
“She had a great, great reputation” helping families, Browns said.
Police have released little information surrounding the circumstances of the woman’s death.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Marie at this time,” acting Commissioner of Police Trevor Botting said in a press release. “This is an active investigation … I would also ask that the circumstances of the death of Marie are not subject to speculation … No further details will be given at this time.”
Police are asking anyone with information to contact the Serious Crime Unit or Crimestoppers at 1-800-8477.