World News

Inside the US effort to bring home two young American missionaries killed in Haiti

Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr

The first US commercial flight to Haiti in months made a bleak roundtrip on Thursday morning, returning with the bodies of a young American couple who were killed by a gang in Port-au-Prince last week.

The remains of Davy and Natalie Lloyd were accompanied in the flight by US Ambassador to Haiti Dennis Hankins and US security agents, according to a source with knowledge of the operation. After flying from Haiti to Miami, they will be sent onward to their families.

“This morning, the remains of Davy and Natalie Lloyd safely took off on a flight back to the United States — there will be a series of layovers, and they will safely reach Neosho, Missouri tomorrow afternoon,” read a statement posted by their families on the X account of Natalie’s father, Missouri State Rep. Ben Baker, requesting privacy during the transfer.

“We are praising the Lord for his hand of protection over this nightmare. Funeral services will be early next week, with more details to come tomorrow,” it also said.

The State Department confirmed on Thursday afternoon that both bodies had arrived in the United States.

Their return follows a week of extraordinary negotiation between the US government and Haitian authorities, local organizations and even gang leaders, sources say – all in a city crippled by the criminal groups that have shut off the import of vital humanitarian supplies, destroyed medical facilities and blocked key roads.

“We will continue to work around the clock until the remains are returned back to the United States,” the spokesperson added.

This month’s reopening of Toussaint Louverture International Airport – a former target for coordinated gang attacks – marks an important step in connecting Haiti’s capital city to the rest of the world, after months of violence in the gang-ravaged Caribbean nation. Local carrier Sunrise resumed flights earlier in May.

But the progress has been overshadowed by last week’s killing of three missionaries – the Lloyds and Haitian mission director Jude Montis – in a high-profile incident that attracted the close attention of US officials and the White House.

The three were attacked in the early evening at the Missions in Haiti church and orphanage compound in Port-au-Prince’s Lizon neighborhood, in what began as an armed robbery by one gang that left their compound rampaged and their supplies and aid stolen.

A second gang later arrived on the scene and came under fire, precipitating a deadly retribution against mission staff, according to Davy Lloyd’s father and Missions in Haiti founder David Lloyd, who was on the phone with his son that evening.

US officials mobilize to recover bodies

In the frantic hours following the attack, staffers from the office of Missouri US Rep. Eric Burlison, Missouri US Sen. Josh Hawley and the US National Security Council reached out to the State Department and US Embassy in Haiti.

“Since their murder we’ve been working closely with Sen. Hawley’s office, State Department, and airlines to bring them home to their families,” he added. “I want to thank everyone who is helping in these efforts.”

Natalie Lloyd’s mother, Naomi Baker, is a staffer in Burlison’s office and her father, Ben Baker, is a state representative in Missouri.

After the shock of the deaths, it became clear early on Friday morning that Davy and Natalie’s bodies needed to be recovered urgently – an operation that would be carefully orchestrated by the US government, according to multiple sources.

There was no time to spare.

On a phone call with multiple gang leaders, Vitel’homme Innocent – a gang leader whose armed group Kraze Baryé was not involved in the attacks but controls an area around the US embassy – asserted a claim to the bodies of the two Americans.

He added, “It was a sad story when I learned that a Haitian and two Americans who came to serve the population died in a terrible situation.”

Innocent himself is the subject of a $2 million bounty for alleged kidnappings of American citizens, which he disputes, saying he hopes to defend himself one day.

Emergency vehicles were soon allowed to continue onward to the charred site where they found the three bodies.

Farewell to the bodies

Missions in Haiti director Jude Montis, 45, was laid to rest in Port-au-Prince this week. Local press showed large crowds gathered outside the church where his funeral services were held, and a mournful band in the procession could later be seen following his hearse down the street.

But the bodies of the Lloyds have been waiting to travel back to Missouri until now.

Natalie’s father Ben Baker described the continuing hurdles to bring back his daughter and son-in-law on his Facebook page, in a message signed by Baker’s spokesperson Cassidy Anderson.

“Currently, we are working to retrieve the bodies of Natalie and Davy. We have to obtain a waiver that will allow their bodies to be transported without being fully embalmed due to the lack of facilities that provide that service in Haiti. After that, we have to find an airline that will be willing to do the transport. Prayers that this will all go smoothly,” it read.

Waiting for news of the bodies’ safe return has strained the nerves of family and supporters with Hawley over the weekend releasing a public letter demanding that the Biden administration assure their security.

“Natalie and Davy’s bodies will need to be transported to the final point of departure, and until that time, there are major risks. The situation on the ground in Port-au-Prince remains anarchic,” he warned.

But Thursday morning, the bodies of Davy and Natalie Lloyd finally began their long journey home.

This post appeared first on