The Caymanian family of a 21-year-old student, shot dead by her ex-boyfriend in an apparent murder-suicide, have spoken of their shock following the incident in the U.S.
The body of Rebecca Eldemire was found in the locked bedroom of her apartment in Ohio after roommates reported hearing loud bangs and her fire alarm going off.
The body of Larry Tipton, 27, was also found inside the room. Police believe he killed Ms. Eldemire before taking his own life.
Ms. Eldemire is the daughter of Caymanian Damian Eldemire, who was in Ohio this week for the funeral.
She was born and raised with her mother in the U.S. but visited the Cayman Islands frequently and has family connections to several prominent Caymanians. Her great-grandparents were Erma and Wellesley Eldemire, who established the old Casa Bertmar hotel on South Sound.
Her great aunt Sandy van der Bol told the Cayman Compass, “This is a crushing tragedy for all of us. It is just devastating.
“She was a beautiful girl, so bubbly and vivacious. She was so compassionate and full of life. She was a real environmentalist. That was her passion.”
According to news reports, Ms. Eldemire, a student at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, had called police the night before her death in an effort to stop Tipton from coming to her home.
But soon after officers confronted him outside the off-campus apartment complex, she sent them away, assuring them there was no cause for continued concern. Police found the bodies the following morning while responding to a fire alarm that they think was triggered by smoke from the gun.
Tipton and Ms. Eldemire had been dating for around three years and had only recently broken up, according to the reports. They are pictured on Facebook smiling together as recently as last month.
Sgt. Jon Varley of the Oxford police told reporters at a press conference Monday, “Preliminary police investigations established that Tipton fired the weapon killing Eldemire before taking his own life.”
Ms. Eldemire’s extended family in Cayman learned of the tragedy Sunday evening.
“Her uncle called us and we went to break the news to Damian,” said Ms. van der Bol,
“He is devastated. It is an incredible blow, but he is handling it as well as can possibly be expected.”
Ms. Eldemire was pursuing a double major in geography and geographic-information systems. In 2013, she led a group of six fellow Miami students on a trip to Arusha, Tanzania, where they helped teach English at a grade school.
Marlene Eldemire, Rebecca’s mother, told reporters in the U.S. that the family is establishing an environmental foundation in her name.
“Her love of life was the Earth and protecting it for generations to come,” she said.