Republicans attack administration over brutal deaths of American missionaries in Haiti

Republican lawmakers are accusing the Biden administration of not doing enough to save a young married couple killed last week during a gang ambush on the northern outskirts of Haiti’s capital where they were serving as missionaries with an Oklahoma-based charity.

The shocking killings have raised questions both in Haiti and in the United States about the circumstances surrounding the brutal attack, and whether the group, surrounded by several armed gangs, may have been targeted.

Davy and Natalie Lloyd, both in their early 20s, were killed along with Judes Montis, the Haitian director of their Missions in Haiti non-profit. The killings happened May 23 when gunmen ambushed the three during attacks against the compound in the community of Lizon. A house where the three sought refuge was later set on fire. It remains unclear exactly how the three died. Natalie Lloyd’s body had no burn marks.

In a letter to President Biden, U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley, a Missouri Republican, said his office had urgently requested help from the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince on the night of the attack.

“The Embassy informed us it was ‘too dangerous’ to send police to aid the Lloyds. Now they are dead,” Hawley said, requesting help with getting the couple’s remains home.

Georgia Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, in a post on X, said, “There needs to be an investigation as there are reports the State Department did not give the green light to rescue them in time.”

The Biden administration, which has been trying to get GOP members in Congress to provide funding for the deployment of an international police force to help Haitian police battle armed gangs, has not responded directly to the accusations.

In Haiti, however, some observers believe the killings were the impetus behind Tuesday’s consensus by the new transitional presidential council to appoint Garry Conille as the country’s new prime minister, following pressure from U.S. officials.

A State Department official did confirm to the Miami Herald that the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince is helping to bring the couple’s bodies back to the United States.

Natalie Lloyd’s father, Ben Baker, also confirmed that plans were set for the remains of his daughter and his son-in-law to return. Baker is a republican lawmaker in the Missouri House of Representatives.

“There will be no release of information regarding specific timeline, airline, or airports being used [to bring the remains back to the U.S.] to ensure the highest level of security,” Baker said on his Facebook page. “Media will not be permitted to attend the flight touchdown to protect the privacy of the family in a very emotional and vulnerable time.”

Judes Montis, who worked for Missions in Hope, in Haiti was among three people killed on Thursday, May 23, 2024 when armed gangs attacked the compound near Bon Repos in the capital. Montis served as director of the U.S.-based charity.
Judes Montis, who worked for Missions in Hope, in Haiti was among three people killed on Thursday, May 23, 2024 when armed gangs attacked the compound near Bon Repos in the capital. Montis served as director of the U.S.-based charity.

Baker had announced the deaths on social media. On Tuesday, he said that among those who called to offer condolences to him and his wife, Naomi, was former President and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. The two spoke for six minutes, Baker said in a separate Facebook post.

“He mentioned how sorry he was that this evil happened to our kids and how beautiful their devotion was to their calling and to the people of Haiti. He wanted to know if we knew who did this because he wants the criminals brought to justice,” Baker wrote. “He also mentioned how he couldn’t believe how beautiful they were, that they ‘looked like models.’”

Davy Lloyd, 23, grew up in Haiti, where his parents run an orphanage, school and bakery. Natalie, 21, moved to the troubled country shortly after the two were married to help her husband in his missionary work.

Haiti is currently under a State Department Level 4 “Do Not Travel” advisory for U.S. citizens. Earlier this year, the U.S. embassy renewed calls for Americans to leave Haiti after armed criminal groups united on Feb. 29 to launch a series of attacks across Port-au-Prince. Gunmen have targeted and vandalized hospitals, schools and government infrastructure like the prison in Titanyen and the Croix-des-Bouquets police station. Both are not far from Missions in Haiti operations.

The Haiti National Police, in a rare note of sympathy, offered condolences over the Americans’ deaths and said they are investigating. Neither the State Department nor the FBI answered Herald questions about whether they plan to investigate.

The timing of the deaths, which has the missionary community reeling, has raised concerns over heightened threats. The killings happened on the same day the first contingent of police officers from Kenya, which has volunteered to lead a multinational security force into Haiti, were supposed to arrive in the Haitian capital. The deployment was postponed due to a shortage of critical equipment,

“Unfortunately, this event serves as a reminder that the security situation in Haiti cannot wait — too many innocent lives are being lost,” said the State Department, which has been outspoken about a block by GOP lawmakers in Congress on $40 million in funds pledged to get the 2,500-member security multinational mission off the ground.

“The United States is committed to supporting the expedited deployment of the Kenyan-led Multinational Security Support mission to bolster the Haitian national police’s capabilities to restore the rule of law and pave the way to democratic governance,” the statement said.

U.S. officials are not saying when the couple’s bodies will be transported. But on Tuesday, hundreds of mourners turned out for a funeral service in Port-au-Prince for Montis, 47, who left behind his wife, Eunide, daughter Esther and son Timothy. He also leaves behind several brothers and a sister.

The funeral service featured a photo of Montis and a young Davy Lloyd. In a note posted by Alicia and David Lloyd, the parents of Davy Lloyd, Montis was remembered as a “close friend and family member since 2004,” whom their children affectionately referred to as “Tonton Judes” —Uncle Judes.

“Judes was trustworthy and faithful, a man of integrity. He helped us build Missions in Haiti, Inc. He was so humble and never wanted any recognition for his part. My kids loved him,” the Lloyds wrote.

They noted that during the attack, part of their son’s foot became stuck to Montis. “That part of Davy will be buried with Judes,” they said.

“It is an honor that part of my heart (Davy’s foot) will be buried with Judes. Davy will always have one foot in Haiti, the country he loved so much,” the Lloyds said.

McClatchy Senior White House Correspondent Michael Wilner contributed to this report.