KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A sister of a Missouri woman who authorities say was strangled while vacationing in Mexico said Monday that the woman's boyfriend told her she overdosed on prescription medications during a suicide bid after an argument.
Mexican authorities say Tamra Turpin, 36, of the St. Louis suburb of Union, died about 9 a.m. Wednesday of strangulation in the Caribbean resort city of Playa del Carmen, near Cancun, and that 59-year-old attorney John Loveless is being held as part of a homicide investigation.
It's unclear whether Loveless, who was detained at the Cancun airport before he was to board a flight to Atlanta, has a lawyer. A woman who answered the telephone Monday at his law office in St. Clair near St. Louis said there was no comment. Appearing before a judge Friday in Mexico, Loveless declined to discuss the matter.
Turpin's oldest sister, Jodi Mills, said Loveless insisted to her via text messages the day Turpin was found dead in a condo the couple had rented that she had taken "a bunch of pills" after an argument between the two the previous night.
"He said she was crazy out of her mind and had seizures" after taking the unspecified medication, Mills, who lives in Mexico, Missouri, told The Associated Press.
Mills said Loveless later told her he canceled an initial call for an ambulance because Turpin was "resting comfortably." Mills said Loveless told her by mid-afternoon that Turpin died, adding that "he said he was sorry and had no words."
"I immediately called him, thinking that surely it's not true," Mills said. "I remember talking to him briefly, and she said she was gone. After that, I don't know what the rest of our conversation was."
"It's crazy, and I'm still in shock," she added. "It just seems like a bad dream."
Mills said she's awaiting word from the U.S. consulate about sharing the text exchange with Mexican investigators and that she's "still keeping an open mind" about Loveless.
"I can't be judgmental when I don't have all the facts," Mills said. "I see where it's pointing, but I respect that he has family and that they need to be sure when happened. Anger gets you nowhere."
The U.S. Embassy in Mexico City said Monday it had no new information on the case.
Mills said Turpin and Loveless had been friends for several years, had dated for roughly the past year and traveled frequently in recent months, including a trip to Florida weeks ago.
"He wined and dined her and treated her very well," Mills said, describing Loveless as "very nice" and her sister as an animal-loving summer enthusiast who was "very spunky, feisty and fun."
Turpin, nagged by lingering migraines and back pain dating to a car wreck when she was a teenager "always had some depression" after her dad died in 2001, Mills said. Her remains are to be laid to rest next to her father's burial plot after her body is returned to Missouri, perhaps as early as this week, Mills said.
"That would make her happy," Mills said.
Loveless has had no disciplinary action against him as an attorney, the state's Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel, which investigates ethics complaints against lawyers, said Monday.