A travel writer vanishes without a trace in Jamaica.
In May of 2000, New York-based travel writers Claudia Kirschhoch and Tania Grossinger found themselves stranded in Negril, Jamaica. Their business trip to Havana Cuba, had been suddenly canceled. According to Tania, they were terribly disappointed:
Just prior to her trip, 29-year-old Claudia Kirschhoch had landed her dream job with Frommer’s Travel Guides. Although she was stranded in Jamaica, Claudia decided to make the best of her trip.
At a resort in Negril, Claudia made friends with Anthony Grant, one of the resort’s bartenders. She was a big fan of reggae music, and Grant reportedly offered to take her to a nearby club.
Tania managed to book a flight home and agreed to meet up with Claudia in New York City. But later that afternoon, Claudia Kirschhoch mysteriously vanished from the island.
A lifeguard was reportedly the last person to see Claudia. She was walking along a local beach, away from the resort.
On June 2 nd , Claudia’s parents were notified that she hadn’t shown up for work in New York, as scheduled. Fred and Mary Ann Kirschhoch had an unsettling feeling when they finally reached someone at the resort.
Hotel maids had reported Claudia missing after noticing she had not slept in her bed for several days. But everything in her room seemed normal. All her clothes except one bathing suit were neatly packed away in her suitcase. Her passport, credit cards, cell phone, and $180 in cash were recovered from the hotel safe where she had left them.
Claudia’s mother, Mary Ann Kirschhoch, was devastated:
As soon as they found out their daughter was missing, the Kirschhochs were on the next plane to Jamaica. Once in Negril, their attempts to find out what happened to their daughter hit one dead end after another, beginning at the resort where Claudia had been staying.
As a security precaution, the license plates of all vehicles entering and leaving the resort were carefully recorded in a logbook. But the logbook for the month that Claudia disappeared was missing. Then a videotape from a surveillance camera mounted near Claudia’s room had been recorded over. Finally, the room where Claudia stayed was cleared by housekeeping and hotel security before it could be processed for clues.
Authorities had no evidence of foul play, so they began to investigate the possibility that Claudia had drowned. Denver Frater was a Detective for the Jamaica Constabulary Force:
News of Claudia’s disappearance spread through Jamaica. Many Negril residents believed that Claudia chose to run away from her old life to live in the hills with a Jamaican lover.
Fred Kirschhoch disagreed:
Detective Frater received several phone calls from eyewitnesses who claimed to have seen Claudia in the hills with a Rastafarian man. However, each lead proved to be fruitless.
Frustrated by the progress of the investigation, Claudia’s parents brought in the FBI and an American search and rescue team.
According to a canine handler on the case, his dog tracked Claudia’s scent to the home of Anthony Grant, the bartender last seen with Claudia. At Grant’s home, the dog hit on a pair of boots, a pair of gloves, and a knife. While searching Grant’s car, the dog also seemed to hit on Claudia’s scent in the backseat and the trunk.
Detective Frater recalled what followed:
Anthony Grant was investigated and polygraphed, but the results were inconclusive. According to Detective Frater, Grant is not considered a suspect in Claudia Kirschhoch’s disappearance:
The Kirschhochs have struggled to keep the search for Claudia alive, despite dwindling leads and diminishing support. They have offered a $50,000 reward in this case.