Bodies of American missionary and Haitian director may have been burned

American missionaries Davy and Natalie Lloyd
American missionaries Davy and Natalie Lloyd | Facebook/Ben Baker

Gang members in Haiti may have burned the bodies of two of the three people they killed — a young American missionary couple and a Haitian director associated with an Oklahoma-based group, Missions in Haiti, according to reports.

The victims — Davy and Natalie Lloyd and 45-year-old Haitian director Jude Montis — were ambushed by armed men at the mission's compound Thursday night. Davy Lloyd, 23, and Natalie Lloyd, 21, were full-time missionaries in Haiti, committed to organizing education and religious services for children.

A video reviewed by The Wall Street Journal shows three victims sprawled on the floor, with two of the bodies appearing to have been set on fire.

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The couple, who moved to Haiti shortly after their marriage in June 2022, worked with Missions in Haiti, a group founded by Davy Lloyd's parents in 2000. The mission's orphanage is located in Lizon, north of Port-au-Prince, an area plagued by violent gangs.

Natalie Lloyd was the daughter of Missouri state Rep. Ben Baker, who expressed his grief on Facebook, stating, "My heart is broken in a thousand pieces. I've never felt this kind of pain."

On Friday, Baker wrote that the U.S. Embassy in Haiti had recovered the bodies of his daughter and son-in-law, describing it as a significant relief amidst the tragedy. He also mentioned the logistical challenges of transporting their bodies back to the United States due to Haiti's lack of embalming facilities and the need to find an airline willing to handle the transport.

David Lloyd, Davy's father, told CNN that he was on the phone with his son during the attack. He recounted how Davy was dragged to the house, tied up and looted by the gang while children were in the compound at the time. The call ended when more armed men arrived, leading to a violent backlash after one of the newly arrived gang members was shot.

"That was basically our last call," David Lloyd said, recalling how the three barricaded themselves in a house that was eventually stormed by the gang. "The gang shot that place up until they got the door busted down and shot them, and set Davy and Jude on fire."

HERO, a local emergency response service, confirmed to CNN that Davy Lloyd's body was found burned at the scene.

According to Missions in Haiti, the couple was attacked by three truckloads of armed men. The incident escalated into a chaotic scene as Davy Lloyd was tied up and beaten by gang members who stole trucks and other belongings from the mission. Subsequently, another armed group arrived, leading to a gun battle in which the Lloyds and Montis were killed.

The missionary group has faced numerous challenges, including the kidnapping of Davy Lloyd and his siblings in 2005, from which they were rescued after 21 hours, Lloyd's father said. 

Haitian police, collaborating with international law enforcement, are investigating the killings.

The White House expressed condolences to the families in a statement to CNN and acknowledged the urgency of deploying the United Nations-approved international police force to bolster the Haitian National Police.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson also mourned the loss, calling it "absolutely heartbreaking news."

Franklin Graham, the son of legendary evangelist Billy Graham and head of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and the Evangelical humanitarian organization Samaritan's Purse, asked his followers to pray for the couple and their family. 

"As a father, I cannot imagine the pain that this family is feeling right now," Graham wrote on Facebook Friday. "Pray for God to comfort and strengthen them in the difficult days ahead. 'God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.' (Psalm 46:1)"

Kay Warren, who co-founded Saddleback Church in California with her husband, Rick, said that the Lloyds served as the "hands and feet of Jesus" in one of the hardest places in the world. 

"We commit them to the care of their Father and join their families in waiting for that glorious reunion day," Warren wrote on Facebook.

"In their memory, this prayer from John Baillie in A Diary of Private Prayer: 'O most gracious God, grant that in everything that happens today I may carry with me the remembrance of the suffering and death of Jesus Christ, my Lord. For your fatherly love shown in Jesus Christ, your beloved son; for his readiness to suffer for me; for the redemptive passion that filled his heart; I praise and bless your holy name. For the power of his cross in the history of the world since he came; for all who've taken up their own crosses and followed him; for the noble company of martyrs, and for all who are willing to die, that others may live; for all those who freely choose to suffer for the sake of others, For pain bravely endured, for sorrows of this life that have been used for the building up of eternal joys; I praise and bless your holy name.'"

The violence against the missionaries is part of a broader pattern of worsening gang activity in Haiti. Gangs armed with weapons primarily trafficked from the U.S. have been spreading across the capital and other cities, attacking police stations and hospitals and freeing inmates from prisons.

Nearly half of Haiti's population faces food shortages, and gang violence deaths and injuries increased by 53% in the first quarter of this year compared to the previous quarter, according to the U.N.

The killings occurred as a new governing council in Haiti awaits the deployment of police from Kenya, supported by the U.S., to help restore security. However, the deployment has been delayed due to funding issues.

After the killing of the missionaries, the U.S. called for swift delivery of police from Kenya. 

"The security situation in Haiti cannot wait," a National Security Council spokesperson said Friday, according to AFP, adding that President Joe Biden has pledged to support the "expedited deployment" of the force.

"Our hearts go out to the families of those killed as they experience unimaginable grief," the spokesperson said. 

In an interview with BBC, Kenya President William Ruto said the peacekeeping police force is expected to arrive in Haiti in about three weeks.

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