An autopsy conducted on an American tourist brutally killed in the Caribbean island of Grenada over the weekend revealed Tuesday that an extensive skull fracture and asphyxia were the causes of death, according to local media.
U.S. officials on Monday identified the victim as Jessica Lewis Colker, 39, who reportedly was attacked with a cutlass-style sword a day earlier on La Sagesse Beach in the town of St. David.
Her husband, identified in media reports as 62-year-old Brian Melito, escaped the attack, police said, and the woman's body turned up near the water. They'd apparently come across a beach that other travelers described as "totally deserted."
Police told NowGrenada.com that there was a struggle with the attacker before he fled. Later in the day, the suspect in the killing, ex-convict David Martin Benjamin, turned himself in at the St David Police Station.
As of Tuesday, Benjamin is still in police custody, and has not been charged with a crime, NowGrenada.com reports.
An autopsy released Tuesday cited extensive skull fracture and asphyxia as Colker’s cause of death, the website said.
A spokeswoman for the U.S. Embassy to Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Monday that Colker, who is from Atlanta, “was vacationing in Grenada when she died.”
“The embassy is working closely with officials investigating Ms. Colker’s death, and asks that her family’s privacy be respected during this difficult time,” a statement from the embassy said, without elaborating as to how Colker died.
Benjamin, who received a 7-year prison sentence in 2014 for rape and carnal knowledge, had been released on “good behavior” after participating in a prison program aimed at reforming the lives of incarcerated young men, NowGrenada.com reports. He previously served time in prison for robbery, grievous harm and other convictions.
Colker was a physician’s assistant who worked with anesthesiologists at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
“Jessica was a valued member of our Children’s team,” hospital spokeswoman Julie Holkeboer told the newspaper. “We are deeply saddened by this horrific news. Our thoughts and prayers go out to her family during this very difficult time.”
Colker’s neighbor, Sara Greene, described her as a “beautiful soul.”
Greene told WSB-TV that Colker had loved to travel with her husband – also a physician – and was planning a Valentine’s Day benefit to help refugees.