Mother of Chicago woman missing in the Bahamas pleads with US government for help | CNN (2024)


The mother of a Chicago woman who has been missing in the Bahamas for nearly two weeks is pleading with the US government to intervene in the case and help find her daughter.

Forty-one-year-oldTaylor Caseywas last seen on June 19 around Paradise Island, a small resort enclave just off the shore of the island of New Providence, where she was attending a yoga retreat, according to the Royal Bahamas Police Force.

Casey’s mother, ColetteSeymore, returned to the United States after spending three days in the Bahamas meeting with US Embassy leadership, organizers of the Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat where Casey was reported missing and members of the Royal Bahamas Police Force.

“I had to return home without her. This is every mother’s worst nightmare,” Seymore said in anews releaseshared by a family representative. “I felt an urgent need to return because without U.S. government support, we may never find out what happened to my Taylor.”

Related article Authorities find phone of woman missing in the Bahamas

The family is now calling for the FBI to take over the investigation into Casey’s disappearance.

“Let me make this clear to the U.S. media, the public, and our government officials: We are not satisfied with how this investigation has been handled thus far. And what we learned and observed during our time meeting with the authorities and Ashram leaders is disturbing and infuriating,” Emily Williams, a friend of Casey who accompanied Seymore on the trip,saidin the release.

Casey’s family and friends have spoken to FBI officials on the phone since returning, but those calls have not led to the agencyinterveningin the case, according to the release.

A State Department spokesperson told CNN the department is aware of reports of a US citizen missing in Bahamas, but declined to comment on Casey’s case specifically, citing privacy concerns.

When a US citizen is missing, the department works with local authorities and communicates with families openly, the spokesperson said.

When asked for comment, the FBI referred CNN to the Royal Bahamas Police Force.

Mother of Chicago woman missing in the Bahamas pleads with US government for help | CNN (1)

Taylor Casey's phone was found in the ocean near this dock.

An ‘unsettling’ visit to the Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat

The release also outlines what it calls Seymore’s “deeply unsettling” visit to the Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat on June 27, which left her team concerned for their own safety.

The organizers of the retreat asked Bahamian police to investigate Casey’s disappearance, according to a statement from theSivananda Ashram Yoga Retreatobtained by CNN last week.

The retreat learned of Casey’s disappearance when she failed to attend morning classeson June 20,according to the statement. She was last seen late in the evening of June 19 and the “organization has also advised the US Embassy as well as Taylor Casey’s family,” the statement said.

When Seymore arrived at the retreat with her team, the scene appeared largely unprocessed by authorities, the release states.Among Casey’s belongings were aBibleand other books, a sketchpad with paintings, affirmation cards, clothes and toiletries.

“It became apparent to us when we met with the Sivananda Ashram leaders that they were struggling to keep a linear and cohesive narrative regarding Taylor’s disappearance,” Williams said.

Ram Soskin, the lead manager of the Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat, told Casey’s family that on the Monday before her disappearance, an unidentified man with a walkie-talkie was seen walking the same platform where Casey’s tent was, the release states.

On the day Casey was last seen, one of the retreat participants was approached by a stranger while sitting alone at the beach, the participant told Seymore’s team, according to the release. “The unidentified man was wearing a Celtics baseball cap and dressed in all black. He claimed he was from Chicago and was interested in taking a yoga class. He proceeded to follow her onto the property,” the release states.

Seymore said police advised her not to speak to guests at the retreatand authorities notednot all of them were aware ofCasey’s disappearance. Seymore described the retreat as “cultish,”and claimedstudentswerebeing “coerced to obey” retreat leaders, “even if that meant holding back information about my child,” according to the release.

Staff met with Taylor’s mother and friends once at police headquarters and once at the retreat, Jonathan Goldbloom, a representative for the ashram, told CNN in a statement.

“To be clear, the police advised us that while we can encourage community members to speak with them, it must be their choice. So, we announced their presence to Taylor’s classmates and teachers and invited anyone wanting to meet with them to come forward,” Goldbloom said.“Many of our community members chose to speak with them and the ashram did not intervene in terms of what individuals said.They were encouraged to speak freely.Any perceived hesitancy could have been due to their own grieving processes.”

The retreat has been asking across multiple channels for people to come forward with information and providing guests with regular updates, Goldbloom said.

“All of us are distraught over Taylor’s disappearance, and our hearts go out to her family and friends,” Goldbloom said.

Mother of Chicago woman missing in the Bahamas pleads with US government for help | CNN (2)

Seymore collected some of Casey's belongings from the retreat, including a Bible and other books, affirmation cards, clothes and toiletries.

“When Ms. Seymore’s team observed the conditions and narrative control at the Ashram, they became concerned for their own safety and changed their flights to come home early,” according to the release.

Some retreat participants reached out to Seymore to say the retreat never told them about the investigation of Casey’s disappearance, the release states, adding thoseparticipantsleft the retreat due to safety concerns.

“The police requested Ashram Yoga Retreat participants to submit statements regarding Taylor, but would not specify whether any were interrogated,” the release states. “The police also refused to inform the family’s team how many statements they had collected and the names of those participants.”

Missing cell phone found

Casey’s cell phone was found in the water, authorities said, but it’s unclearhowfarit was from the yoga retreat.

“We have conducted extensive investigation into the matter,” Royal Bahamas Police Force Chief Superintendent Chrislyn Skippings said in a news conference last week. “Our priority is to find Taylor and to find Taylor in good health.”

Police refused to give Casey’s phone to Casey’s mother, who said, “I believe that phone may have information we need on there,” the family’s news release states.

When asked for comment, the Royal Bahamas Police Force provided CNN with a news release, noting that Casey’s cell phone and journal were found, but police have yet to find Casey’s passport.

Police have used drones, search-and-rescue dogs and divers in the investigation and are working with Casey’s family, checking CCTV cameras and interviewing retreat attendees, Skippings said last week.

Casey’s family said the police told them they searched only the area between the Ashram Yoga Retreat and the nearby Atlantisresort. CNN has reached out to the Atlantisresortfor more information.

“We were told that a description of Taylor was provided to the Atlantis security and that they were the ones who reviewed CCTV footage,” Williams said in the release. “What we took this to mean is that the detectives themselves did not review this footage.”

Retreat leaders and local police also failed to post missing person posters of Casey in the area, according to the release.

Amissing person flyerreleased by police did not provide details of the circ*mstances of her disappearance or say whether foul play is suspected.

CNN’s Amanda Musa, Kylie Atwood, Jamiel Lynch,Amanda Jackson,Lucy Kafanov and Holmes Lybrand contributed to this report.

Mother of Chicago woman missing in the Bahamas pleads with US government for help | CNN (2024)
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