BVI News

US visitor’s body stuck in BVI as RVIPF probe death | Family distressed

The Royal Virgin Islands Police Force (RVIPF) is currently probing the death of a US visitor who was found dead at sea last week.

Family members of Dr Joseph Horgan, the 66-year-old visitor whose body was found in BVI waters last Thursday, have expressed some amount distress that their loved one’s body is still stuck in the BVI as local authorities investigate his death.

READ: Body of US Citizen found at sea

The United States citizen’s body is currently laying in the territory’s morgue facilities at Peebles Hospital and Police Commissioner Micheal Matthews said the body cannot be released until a coroner’s report is completed.

While giving an update on the investigation on Wednesday, Commissioner Matthews said his department is currently awaiting medical records of the deceased man to proceed with their probe.

“These records have been requested and the [Royal Virgin Islands Police] Force has been liaising with the family of Dr Horgan, hoping to receive these urgently. These historical records are vital to the investigation process into determining the circumstances of the death of Dr Horgan,” Matthews said.

“At the immediate conclusion of the investigation, a file, inclusive of the medical records of the deceased which remain outstanding, will be presented to the coroner’s office and it will be necessary for an autopsy to take place. The autopsy will only be scheduled upon the completion of the investigations, per standard protocols,” then top cop added.

Witness statements

The police commissioner explained that the investigative process also includes the collection of statements from witnesses, which he says assists the pathologist in determining the cause of death and ‘opine on the manner of death, if necessary’.

“Thereafter, the pathologist issues his report to the coroner, who then issues to the Civil Registry of the British Virgin Islands, the legally required documents for Dr Horgan’s death to be officially registered and for his body to be released to the family,” Commissioner Matthews said.

He continued: “It must be noted that the relevant officials are exercising the usual due care and attention to this matter. The inquiries being conducted are standard and legally required in the investigations of all sudden deaths that occur in the territory,” said Mattews, who noted that his department recognizes the mourning family’s distress.

We can’t rest knowing our father’s body is still away 

The deceased man’s son, Jason Hogan, is reported as telling US news media, Local10, that the autopsy on his father is being stalled because of BVI policies and because of the Christmas holidays.

“As of right now, it stands that nothing will be done with him until January 3, when the medical examiner is back from vacation,” the grieving son reportedly said.

“We can’t rest knowing that our father is in a cooler somewhere on an island. He’s not even with us,” he added.


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  1. Lodger says:

    This not new. Many times things are held up until the pathologist gets here.

  2. Dick Tracey says:

    Release the body. The RVIPF wouldn’t be able to solve this death even if it was suspicious. Look at all the murders that go unsolved. Either fly in a pathologist or release the body. Stop acting like a Banana Republic.

    Like 6
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    • Shaun says:

      @Dick Tracey: The RVIPF still has one of the best detection rates in the Caribbean and beyond. Without witnesses and credible information, any small police force will have difficulties solving serious crimes such as murder. Moreover, making an arrest is only one part of the the process. You must also have sufficient evidence to prove the elements of the offense while tying it to the accused. But then again idiots like you who are low IQ wouldn’t know what I am talking about.

  3. Nonsense says:

    A thorough investigation is the appropriate procedure to be followed here.

    What if there is foul play involved? Should there that not be cause for concern by all parties?

    Be weary of those who want to rush the brush.

    Like 13
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  4. Nonsense says:

    RVIPF can’t even solve death of lizard in my bathroom

    Like 3
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  5. Gerance P. says:

    Sad to have lost a family member. Unfortunately for the family, we do not work as efficiently or as urgently as the family experiences in the US. Hopefully one day that can change.

    Like 3
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  6. hmmmmm too.... says:

    i am disappointed at the family members…it would seem that they want to rush the investigation under the pretense of “stress”. RVIPF, please investigate thoroughly as something does not seem right.

    Like 6
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    • lindsey says:

      No. We didn’t want to rush the investigation, we wanted them to START the investigation and get tissue samples so we could figure out what happened to my father. Please don’t make comments like this when you have no idea what is going on. Thank you.

      Like 8
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    • @hmmmmmmm says:

      Very suspicious from the beginning. Nothing in their blog wordings seemed sincere or griever.

      Hope a through investigation is conducted if it takes a year. To much m——— go on all over just to get people money, and some cant wait till them time come to get what’s —- for them.

      Like 3
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  7. Grim says:

    I have known a couple of foreign people lose loved ones here. The delay on getting their bodies repatriated has taken a month or more, in one case it was a very young baby who had died. The coroner is never here (I think he is based in USVI). The funeral home here is unhelpful too. Basically, whether you are dead or alive, if you are a non-belonger, BVI could not give a damn ab out you or your family. There is no embassy (Governor’s House does offer consular services) and no-one in government cares. It makes a bad situation worse

    Like 4
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    • Improvement Needed says:

      Absolutely not! We as BVIslanders experience the very same thing so please don’t make it about BVI against Belongers. Our family buried a member some months ago and it’s the same crap we experienced. Couldn’t make funeral arrangements for weeks on weeks bc we simply could not get the body released. IMO, it’s a system that is flawed. First of all, from what I was made to understand, there is not even a coroner on island. If there is one, that’s a recent development. (Someone may correct me.) The one from the US that is used apparently is on vacation.

      But sometimes, it takes up to three weeks almost for them to release the body of persons who die just of natural causes and in cases where murder is suspected (and I am in no way suggesting that this applies to Dr. Horgan’s case) it literally takes well over a month or more.

      All in all, the length of time is too long before bodies are released and this should be addressed.

      • Hmm says:

        You lie! DR. Redhead is the pathologist on duty. He did one for me last year.

        • Improvement Needed says:

          I did say someone may correct me if I am WRONG, but THAT WAS our family’s recent experience. If there is one on island he surely is operating as if he comes in from Grenada each time (from what I just googled). The process appears longer than when they had to source one from the USVI.

          Like I said Improvement is Needed…. URGENTLY!! This IS the CRUX OF THE MATTER.

        • Queen B says:

          If this is a lie, why they had to fly is Dr. King, Pathologist from St. Lucia???

  8. Lindsey says:

    This article is inaccurate. We were never told that they needed medical records until the day they told us. We immediately got the medical records to them without any delay. We would have had the medical records and all of us in the BVI on Dec. 20th to identify my father’s body had we known that we needed to do that. You have no idea how hard it has been getting information from the BVI. It has been a nightmare. Our father was everything to us. Please don’t post stuff when you have no idea what is going us. All we want is for them to START the investigation, START getting tissue samples (we’re all medical professionals in this family, we all know how quickly bodies decay). As for us, our religion requires us to bury the body within 24 hours of death and it has now been 8 days since my dad’s death. This has been an absolute nightmare!

    Like 10
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  9. Were is... says:

    Why isn’t the BVI Tourist Board assisting? They were tripping over themselves to help when tourists get killed in bus and safari wrecks. Why not help this sailors family?

    Like 5
    Dislike 1
  10. Jaime says:

    And why hasn’t the family been given a detailed and comprehensive list of “things” needlng to happen and documents required to release this kind man home.

    If there is standard protocol being referenced it should be immediately documented and sent to the family. There shouldn’t be any surprises at this point. Get yourself organized with all of the toriusm in and out of your country this should be readily accessible.

  11. Respect says:

    Out of respect for the families religion, I would try to expedite the process as a courtesy. Like come on …on vacation as a reply is disgraceful. They should have a pathologist readily available. I hope everything works out for the family.

  12. Tobi Horgan says:

    I am Dr Horgan’s wife. I was contacted immediately and was on a plane to BVI on December 24th (4 days after his accidental death while alone on our boat) and just 2 days short of his December 26th birthday. He was there for what was supposed to be a 3-4 day trip to check out our newly repaired boat from Hurricane Irma. The police, embassy and every official I encountered upon my arrival were respectful, courteous, caring and took care of all the details in the precise way that these things are done in the BVI. Everything was explained to me in great detail by Mr. albert Wheatley and Louis, the police inspected assigned to case. I was treated with respect and compassion during the worst days of my life. While I was on Tortola tending to the many governmental requirements and fees required I was kept in constant contact with the officials and given as much information that was available. The pathologist from St Lucia (Dr. King) was flown in as a favor to me in order to complete the process as quickly as possible. Everyone I encountered was gracious and helpful. They went out of their way to help me through a nightmare. My husband and I have been going sailing in the BVI for 20 years and although we kept our first boat in the Moorings charter program, we had recently purchased our second boat and had taken it out of the charter program to keep as our own when Irma hit and changed our plans. Over the years we made many very good and loyal friends who we consider family and traveled their several times a year. It felt like our second home. In the year after he passed away I traveled there myself 4-5 more times because it was where I felt most loved and cared for and where I wanted to be to feel close to him. I also scattered some of his ashes there. Unfortunately, my husband’s children have been raised in a very privileged atmosphere and feel entitled, as American citizens, and in general, to always mention their last name and have the seas parted for them. They were not in contact with me while I was on island to get updates or even to inquire about my well being. My husband and I were together for over 24 years and I made the trip alone to face this tragedy unaccompanied while they stayed in Florida and called television stations and newspapers giving only their side of the story which was terribly inaccurate and unfair. And they failed to ever mention that I, his wife, was down there attending To all the arrangements. Their entitled attitudes are from a lifetime of being indulged with a wealthy lifestyle and a famous father in our area of South Florida which has always opened doors for them. They are unable and/or unwilling to take into consideration the policies and procedures of a foreign government and quick to criticize if things are not done immediately upon their request and they are not treated with the VIP care they have grown used to. It was never mentioned in either the correspondence with the BVI officials nor the media reports that I was down there by myself taking care of everything that needed to be done and cooperative and respectful of the local procedures. My older son is in law enforcement (a homicide detective in South Florida) and he and his wife (also a law enforcement office) came down to meet me and provide the moral support I needed (not one of his children offered or even made an effort to contact me, if only to check on my well being) and spoke to everyone involved in the investigation and complimented them on their professionalism, compassionate way of handling the case in the most proficient, professional manner. It will never be forgotten. It will have been 3 years on December 20th since this nightmare began. I would like to apologize for my stepchildren (all adults) for their rude, impatient and disrespectful behavior towards your government and it’s procedures in these matters. I know this comment is a long time coming, but I hope somebody sees it and is able to know that, as his wife and next of kin, I have no complaints about the efforts that were made on my and my husband’s behalf. Thank you to everyone involved and to all my BVI friends/family who helped me through such a difficult time.

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