Slain New York lady might have been sexually assaulted earlier than Turks and Caicos strangling, new proof reveals


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New proof signifies the attainable sexual assault of a New York lawyer discovered useless at a tropical Membership Med resort in 2018, in accordance with court docket paperwork revealed Friday as part of an inquest into her reason for dying.

Marie Kuhnla, a 62-year-old public defender in Suffolk County, New York, died of murder by guide strangulation whereas on trip with two colleagues to Turks and Caicos in October of that 12 months, the health worker dominated after authorities found her physique in a bush on a distant space of the resort.

However a brand new inquest, a listening to aimed toward figuring out her trigger and method of dying in court docket regardless of the physician’s findings, has prompted issues from her household of a possible cover-up in addition to the revelation of beforehand undisclosed proof in court docket.

Marie Kuhnla and her family in an undated photo. From left to right: Rick Kuhnla Jr., Rick Kuhnla Sr. and Marie Kuhnla.

Marie Kuhnla and her household in an undated photograph. From left to proper: Rick Kuhnla Jr., Rick Kuhnla Sr. and Marie Kuhnla.
(Courtesy: Kuhnla household)


“It’s obviously really painful and difficult news,” Rick Kuhnla Jr., who attended the proceedings just about, informed Every day Put up Digital. “Seeing the police officer read out that information in court was the first we’d heard of it… It just confirms the cover-up. I think there is no denying that this was a police cover-up anymore.”

A screengrab of Kuhnla's Turks and Caicos death certificate.

A screengrab of Kuhnla’s Turks and Caicos dying certificates.
(Nassau County Clerk)

The DNA take a look at outcomes, dated Dec. 7, 2018, weren’t made public till Friday, in accordance with Abe George, an legal professional representing the household in a wrongful dying lawsuit within the U.S. They had been primarily based on samples collected between the invention of her stays on Oct. 16 of that 12 months and Oct. 20, when police took proof from a male visitor’s room on the resort.

Marie Kuhnla poses in an undated photo.

Marie Kuhnla poses in an undated photograph.
(Marie Kuhnla)

The DNA evaluation discovered semen on Kuhnla’s underwear and male DNA on her room’s door however not sufficient for a match. Kuhnla’s garments, fingers and groin additionally confirmed blood.

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“The bottom line is that Club Med and police have been telling us for years that despite what their own ME found this was an accident,” Kuhnla’s son informed Every day Put up Digital. “But the lab report shows blood on almost every article of clothing/personal effect she had in addition to seminal fluid on [her] panties.”

He mentioned he had been skeptical in regards to the inquest’s legitimacy till the household’s native counsel, Peter McKnight, had an opportunity to cross-examine witnesses, which led to the DNA revelation. However he mentioned he stays anxious pending the inquest’s ultimate final result.

Trevor Botting, the island nation’s police commissioner, mentioned he couldn’t remark till the court docket proceedings concluded.

Investigators responded to a report of a girl’s physique found on Oct. 16, 2018, the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Drive mentioned. Two of Kuhnla’s colleagues vacationing together with her reported her lacking the day prior to this, and she or he was final seen alive on the 14th with Frank Yacullo Jr., in accordance with police paperwork, the person from whose room they collected proof.

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He had been spending time with Kuhnla, the paperwork state, and had been a Membership Med worker within the Nineties, in accordance with her household’s civil lawsuit.

Marie Kuhnla and her family in an undated photo.

Marie Kuhnla and her household in an undated photograph.
(Kuhnla household)

The health worker, Dr. Michael Steckbauer, discovered her dying to be a murder by guide strangulation. 

Dr. Steckbauer fiercely defended his findings in court docket in the course of the inquest and can also be a witness within the household’s wrongful dying lawsuit.

There was additionally proof that she had been dumped on the location and had not walked there herself, in accordance with Ed Dowd, a personal investigator working with Kuhnla’s son and widower.

The wrongful dying lawsuit, filed in Nassau County, New York, alleges an tried cover-up of the circumstances surrounding Kuhnla’s strangling, a mishandling of her stays and obstruction. 


Marie Kuhnla and her family in an undated photo.

Marie Kuhnla and her household in an undated photograph.
(Kuhnla household)

A Turks and Caicos investigator visited Kuhnla’s widower, Rick Kuhnla Sr., in 2019 and floated the chance that the lady’s dying had been an accident, in accordance George. The household rejected that idea – citing the official health worker’s findings and different proof that Dowd uncovered.

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The wrongful dying swimsuit additionally names Yacullo as a possible suspect. Police discovered a girl’s DNA in his room, but it surely was not a match for Kuhnla. He had individually been accused of groping considered one of her buddies, made bail and returned to the U.S. Makes an attempt to achieve him for remark weren’t instantly profitable. 

Marie Kuhnla on a zip-line.

Marie Kuhnla on a zip-line.
(Kuhnla household)


Kuhnla suffered damaged ribs, bruising on her interior thighs and had been partially disrobed, Dowd informed Every day Put up Digital final week. Even earlier than the DNA report, he mentioned she might have been sexually assaulted earlier than her dying and that regardless of being discovered 100 yards away from her footwear, her ft had been devoid of dust, brambles or scratches, indicating that she’d been carried to the situation and didn’t stroll there herself.

The inquest continued Monday and can ultimately be positioned within the fingers of a Turks and Caicos jury.


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