Grenada Murder Leaves American Tourist Jessica Colker Dead

- Reports say a suspect is being questioned
January 26, 2016 Updated: January 26, 2016
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Police in Grenada say a tourist from the U.S. state of Georgia was attacked and killed along a beach on the southern coast of the Caribbean island. A suspect is in custody but has not yet been charged.

The Royal Grenada Police Force says 39-year-old Jessica Lewis Colker of Atlanta was attacked at noon on Sunday at Le-Cheasere beach in St. David.

St. Lucia News Online reported that a previously incarcerated man, Dave Benjamin, turned himself into police. He walked into the St. David Police Station early on Monday morning, and he is now being questioned.

“What I can tell you now is that he is in custody. He was not captured, but he turned himself in and our investigations will continue, as we believe he can assist us with our investigations into the incident,” said Sylvan McIntyre, Head of the Community Relations Division of the Grenada Police Force, according to St. Lucia News.

A police statement on Tuesday said an autopsy showed that Colker died from a skull fracture and asphyxia.

Alleged suspect Dave Benjamin (St. David Police Department)
Alleged suspect Dave Benjamin (St. David Police Department)

Colker’s husband, 62-year-old Brian Melito, survived the attack and sent for help. The suspect fled into nearby mangroves, according to local reports.

“The Embassy is working closely with officials investigating Ms. Colker’s death, and asks that the public respects her family’s privacy during this difficult time,” the U.S. Embassy in Barbados said, per the New York Daily News.

Colker was a physician’s assistant who worked at the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, according to AJC.com. Her husband was also a physician.

“Jessica was a valued member of our Children’s team,” hospital spokeswoman Julie Holkeboer said. “We are deeply saddened by this horrific news. Our thoughts and prayers go out to her family during this very difficult time.”

Sue Hardy, a British journalist who was staying at La Sagesse, described where Colker was killed.

“No one can see you there—but of course nobody can see if anyone attacks you there,” she said, per Caribbean360.com. “I wouldn’t venture on to that other, hidden, beach again,” she added.

Colker is the second foreigner who was murdered in Grenada in recent weeks. In December, a Canadian national, Linnea Veinotte, was killed. A suspect was charged with her murder.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.