Details of Disappearance
Kirschhoch was an assistant editor for Frommer's Travel Guides in New York City, New York and resided in the borough of Queens. She was chosen to participate in a travel junket to the new Sandals resort in Havana, Cuba on May 24, 2000.
Kirschhoch flew to Montego Bay, Jamaica with three other travel journalists on that day. The group was then scheduled to fly to Havana, but then they learned they would not be allowed entry into Cuba. All flights back to New York were booked through June 1 and Kirschhoch was re-routed to the Sandals Beaches Resort in Negril, Jamaica with another travel writer, Tania Grossinger, on May 25.
Grossinger told authorities that Kirschhoch became friends with one of the resort's bartenders, Anthony Grant, during their stay. Grossinger was able to arrange a last-minute flight out of Negril to New York during the morning of May 27, 2000. She and Kirschhoch met for breakfast prior to Grossinger's departure.
Kirschhoch planned to stay at the resort until more flights to the United States became available. She was last seen by a Sandals Beaches resort lifeguard as she walked along the beach later that afternoon. She has never been heard from again.
Kirschhoch's parents became concerned when they failed to contact their daughter by June 2. They called Frommer's Travel Guides' offices in New York City and learned that she never returned to work.
An investigation was initiated in Negril and all of Kirschhoch's personal belongings were discovered in her hotel room. The only items missing were her bikini, t-shirt and radio -- the same possessions she was seen wearing on the beach on May 27. Her passport, return plane ticket, $180 cash, credit and ATM cards, camera, cellular phone and clothing were located in her room.
Kirschhoch's belongings were reportedly taken to the Sandals Beaches Resort manager's office and her hotel room was rented out to other guests, possibly contaminating a potential crime scene. Her cellular phone disappeared shortly thereafter, as did the log book that recorded all vehicles' license plate numbers that entered and exited the resort.
A security camera videotape near Kirschhoch's hotel room was inadvertently recorded over after her disappearance as well. The resort developed the film in her camera after her disappearance, but reported that there were no photos on it.
Authorities learned that Grant called in sick on May 28, the day after Kirschhoch was last seen. He remained out of work for four days. The FBI began its own investigation along with Negril authorities and discovered a strand of Kirschhoch's hair in the back seat of Grant's white Toyota Corolla. A search dog traced her scent to the trunk of the car, as well as a pair of Grant's boots and gloves at his residence.
DNA testing conducted on the items proved to be inconclusive. A small amount of blood was discovered on the blade of a knife inside Grant's home, but it was too small to merit additional analysis.
Grant agreed to a polygraph test after Kirschhoch disappeared, but the results were also inconclusive. Authorities do not consider him a suspect in her case, but her parents believe that he may know what happened to their daughter.
The Jamaican press portrayed Kirschhoch as an adventure-seeker who was probably responsible for her own fate after her disappearance in 2000. Her loved ones have stated that this description of Kirschhoch is inaccurate and that she prepared herself before venturing to different locales.
Numerous sightings of Kirschhoch were reported in Jamaican villages after her initial disappearance, but investigators have been unable to confirm any of the reports.
Kirschhoch's family has alleged that Sandals Beaches Resort employees impeded the investigation into their daughter's disappearance and that they probably know what happened to her. Her family filed a lawsuit against them for willfully destroying evidence and causing emotional stress in 2002.
Many American journalists covered Kirschhoch's case in 2000 and reported that criminal activity was occasionally widespread in Jamaica and recommended that potential visitors plan their stays accordingly. Her family said the Jamaican police did not cooperate with them and would not let them examine the investigative file.
Kirschhoch was declared legally dead in May 2002. A judge ruled that it was unlikely she disappeared of her own accord. Her case remains unsolved. Both American and Jamaican authorities are investigating.