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Bahamas police chief involved in probe of missing Chicago yogi suspended over voice note scandal

Bahamas police chief involved in probe of missing Chicago yogi suspended over voice note scandal

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Louise Thomas

The Royal Bahamas Police Force’s Chief Superintendent was placed on “garden leave” amid an investigation into several missing persons cases, including that of a Chicago woman who disappeared during a yoga retreat.

Chief Supt Michael Johnson, the Officer-in-Charge of the force’s Criminal Investigation Department, agreed to a paid leave of absence on July 5 after “voice notes” involving him, unrelated to the searches. began circulating on social media.

The five leaked voice notes allegedly feature Johnson negotiating an arrangement for the police to drop an investigation into a gang leader who was killed in May, according to Tribune242.

RBPF officials later told reporters that the voice notes had raised “serious concerns” for the force and damaged its public image.

“The Royal Bahamas police force has a proud history of service,” Police Commissioner Clayton Fernander said, per NBC5. “Unfortunately, there may be instances where individuals fall short of our standards of integrity. This is painful, especially if found within senior ranks, nobody, and I repeat, nobody is above the law.”

Taylor Casey, 41, disappeared on June 20 after traveling from her home in Chicago to the Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat in the Bahamas
Taylor Casey, 41, disappeared on June 20 after traveling from her home in Chicago to the Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat in the Bahamas (Find Taylor Casey/Facebook)

He noted that the situation had impacted “public trust” and “confidence” in the police.

The blow to the department comes as the Bahamian police continue to investigate several missing persons cases, including that of Taylor Casey, the American woman who disappeared while attending the yoga retreat.

Casey was last seen at the Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat on Nassau’s Paradise Island late in the evening of June 19.

In an update, Fernander said that searches using divers and submersible drones had been conducted in the area where Casey’s phone was found, but said it had uncovered no new evidence.

Casey’s mother, Colette Seymore, traveled to the Bahamas to meet with police, US Embassy officials, and the members of the yoga retreat where her daughter had been staying.

Taylor Casey, 41, disappeared on June 20 after traveling from her home in Chicago to the Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat in the Bahamas
Taylor Casey, 41, disappeared on June 20 after traveling from her home in Chicago to the Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat in the Bahamas (Casey family)

“I had to return home without her. This is every mother’s worst nightmare,” she said in a statement after her trip. “I felt an urgent need to return because without [US] government support, we may never find out what happened to my Taylor.”

She wants the FBI to take over the investigation, stating a dissatisfaction with the Bahamian search.

The police department is also investigating the case of Devon Issacs, a local 17-year-old who disappeared almost two months ago.

The US issued a travel advisory for the Bahamas back in January, raising it to a “Level 2.” US officials warn prospective visitors that they should “exercise increased caution in The Bahamas due to crime.”

“Violent crime, such as burglaries, armed robberies, and sexual assaults, occur in both tourist and non-tourist areas. Be vigilant when staying at short-term vacation rental properties where private security companies do not have a presence,” the warning advises.

Last month, Latia Duncombe, the Director General of Tourism, addressed the warning and assured travelers the destination was safe.

“The destination is safe and we have to make sure visitors do feel safe when they visit the Bahamas,” Duncombe said. “Whenever there is an odd occurrence, it does increase concern and we want to make sure we address it in a very measured way.”


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