KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) — Jamaican police said Sunday that two U.S. missionaries were found slain in a rural area of the Caribbean island that has long struggled with high rates of violent crime.
In a statement, the Jamaica Constabulary Force identified the two men as Randy Hentzel, 48, and Harold Nichols, 53. Their battered bodies were found in bushes in separate areas of St. Mary parish.
There have been no arrests, and investigators made no comment about a possible motive.
Police did not provide hometowns for the victims. Hentzel's Facebook page said he was from Donnellson, Iowa. Nichols' hometown was not immediately clear.
Both missionaries lived and worked in Jamaica for a Pennsylvania-based religious organization called Teams for Medical Missions. The two men and their families did evangelism and Bible ministry and built homes.
"We do not know who would do this or what their motivation was. These men greatly loved the people of Jamaica and were greatly loved in return," said John Heater, executive director of Teams for Medical Missions.
On social media, fellow missionary Merlin Pratt said he was told the two men were killed on their way to check on the foundation of a house they were building for an impoverished family.
Jamaica had at least 1,192 slayings in 2015, a roughly 20 percent increase from the previous year. A country of about 2.7 million people, Jamaica has long been ranked among the most violent countries in the world.
The U.S. Embassy in Jamaica said officials were in touch with the victims' families and the ambassador had contacted the leadership of the island's security establishment.