A young woman, whose mysterious death at a luxurious Mexican resort in January is being probed by her parents, may have consumed bootlegged liquor that was contaminated -- or drugged -- before she drowned in a shallow pool, the family’s attorney said.
Abbey Conner, 20, was found next to her brother, Austin, face-down in a pool at the five-star Iberostar Paraiso del Mar in Playa del Carmen. The Wisconsin woman was vacationing at the resort with her mother and stepfather.
The siblings were transported to the hospital where Austin recovered. But Abbey was declared brain dead and died a few days later at a Florida hospital. Officials said the siblings had a blood alcohol level around .25, three times the legal limit in Wisconsin.
The attorney hired by Conner’s family said the resort was serving alcoholic beverages with a large quantity of poor quality alcohol.
“They serve alcoholic drinks with alcohol of bad quality and in great amounts, mixing different types of drinks,” the lawyer wrote in a report, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
The liquor, which might have been bootlegged, may have been “infused with grain alcohol or dangerous concentrations of methanol, cheaper alternatives to producing ethanol,” The Journal Sentinel reported.
That new information could shed some light into the cause of Conner’s death.
A few people familiar with the resort told The Journal Sentinel they had experienced injuries and sickness following their stay at the popular tourist spot -- as well as others around Cancun and Playa del Carmen. Some of the travelers said they believed the alcohol was low quality.
Mexican police insist Conner drowned accidentally, but her family is not satisfied or convinced of that conclusion.
“If it was an accident, where was everybody?” asks Florentino Ramirez, the U.S. attorney hired by Abbey’s mom and stepdad, Ginny and John McGowan. “It just doesn’t make sense. There are too many open ends.”
Austin also claimed that he and his sister were not attempting to get drunk the night of her death. Austin said the two consumed a few shots of tequila and another “Jagerbomb” type shot before blacking out. Austin also said he hit his head at the time and had a “golf ball-sized lump” on his forehead.
“I’ve been in college for five years and had my fair share of drinks before," Austin told The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "No way in hell I’m putting my face down in a pool and going to sleep.”
Abbey and Austin’s father also believed the liquor may have been contaminated or drugged.
“Somebody had to slip them some type of drug,” Bill Conner said.
Ramirez said the two may have been targeted for a robbery or kidnapping.
Bill Conner said that he does feel some consolation after his daughter’s heart was donated to a 22-year-old man, Loumont Jack, who had been told he only had 10 days to live before getting the heart.
“Abbey is alive inside of him – it’s her heart having him stand up straight,” he told CBS News.