Iowa family found killed by asphyxiation in Tulum, Mexico, police say
January 1, 1970
Autopsies concluded an Iowa couple and their two children found dead inside their rented Mexico condo were victims of toxic gas inhalation, Mexican authorities said Saturday, and they reiterated no signs indicate foul play.
The Quintana Roo state prosecutor’s office said all four family members staying on the Caribbean coast in Tulum were killed by asphyxiation, and that “any violent act or suicide has been discounted.”
Kevin Wayne Sharp, 41, his wife, Amy Marie Sharp, 38, and their children Sterling Wayne Sharp, 12, and Adrianna Marie Sharp, 7, were found dead inside the condo, Mexican authorities confirmed Friday.
Photos published by the prosecutor’s office show firemen in respirators and other authorities in anti-contamination suits examining gas connections and the unit’s oven. The Sharp family appeared to be dead for 36 to 48 hours when they were discovered, the office said.
The family had been reported missing by their immediate family members early Friday morning to police in Creston, Iowa, which is located about 70 miles southwest of Des Moines. Kevin and Amy Sharp informed their family members in Iowa that they had arrived safely at their vacation condominium on March 15.
Amy Marie Sharp poses for a selfie, with her son Sterling, daughter Adriana and husband Kevin, in this picture uploaded to Facebook on August 22, 2015. (Amy Sharp, via Reuters)
The Sharps had planned to return home Wednesday, family members said.
Police quickly made contact with the U.S. State Department, Creston police said in a statement. A welfare check at the condominium where the family was believed to be staying led to the discovery of the four bodies.
This was the Sharp family’s second trip to Mexico. They left the United States for Cancun on March 14, then rented a car and drove to Tulum, where they were renting a condo, according to Amy Sharp’s sister, Renee Hoyt, who spoke with the Creston News Advertiser.
The family had planned to meet up with some friends at a water park, Amy Sharp’s cousin, Jana Weland, told ABC News.
But “they never showed up at that water park to meet them,” Weland said.
In fact, the Sharps’ family members hadn’t heard anything from Kevin or Amy since the day they arrived to Mexico.
It was also unusual for the family not to post photos of their vacation to social media, because “last year they shared pictures about every day,” Weland said.
About a week later, on Thursday night, the family had a sinking feeling that something wasn’t right. The Sharps were supposed to return to the United States about 2:45 p.m. Wednesday from Cancun and arrive in St. Louis at about 6 p.m., family members said.
The Sharps’ family members decided to wait for the last flight from Cancun to St. Louis to arrive on Thursday in case the Sharps had just planned to stay an extra day, Weland told ABC News.
“I guess we were all kind of hoping for the best,” she said.
Then, the family tracked Kevin Sharp’s phone using Apple’s Find my iPhone app. It pinged in Mexico, Hoyt told the Creston News Advertiser. The phone had not moved from its location since Thursday morning.
Paulina Chávez Alonzo, a spokeswoman for the Mexican Embassy in Washington D.C., told NBC News that the government offered its “deepest condolences to the family and friends of the Sharps.”
Kevin Sharp was an avid stock car racer known as “the Sharpshooter” in the local racing scene, and he often competed in events in his neighboring county, Cliff Baldwin, his friend and fellow racer, told the Des Moines Register. He said he knew Sharp and his family his entire life and that he and Kevin shared a love for the University of Iowa and the Kansas City Chiefs.
“He was a great personal friend,” Baldwin told the Des Moines Register. “It’s hard to talk about. The more I think about him and the family, the harder it is.”
“Creston is close-knit like all small towns in Iowa,” he added. “He’s a big part of that community there.”
On Saturday, the community held a candlelight vigil at Adams County Speedway, where the Sharp family were regular spectators, local NBC affiliate WHO reported.
“I can tell you one thing about Kevin Sharp: he was a family man. Most people don’t appreciate the fact that when you come to this racetrack, this is a family,” a friend of the Sharp family said.