Jordan Marshall and Kandace Florence, who attended high school together in Virginia Beach, had been vacationing in Mexico City with Marshall’s friend from New Orleans, Courtez Hall. The trio was there for the celebrations surrounding “Dia de Muertos,” or Day of the Dead.
Kandace Florence’s boyfriend was on the phone with her on the night of Oct. 30 when Florence started getting sick, the family told Nexstar’s WAVY. She told him something wasn’t right. The two eventually were disconnected and he couldn’t get Florence back on the line. He then called the Airbnb host to do a welfare check, and authorities found Florence, Marshall, and Hall dead.
“To lose your child is one thing, but in a whole other country and having to maneuver language barriers and travel and trying to get his body home, it’s been a lot,” Marshall’s mom, Jennifer Marshall, told WAVY.
Marshall, a teacher in New Orleans, and Florence, who started a candle business — Glo Through It — in 2020, were both 28 years old. Florence would have turned 29 on Nov. 10. Hall was also a teacher in New Orleans.
The families of Marshall and Florence say they have been in contact with the U.S. embassy, working to get their loved ones’ bodies home and find out exactly what happened to them.
Jennifer Marshall says they spent hours in a Mexico City police station waiting for a translator to show up. The U.S. embassy was also closed when they arrived and they were unable to get into the Airbnb to get Jordan’s things.
“His wallet, his laptop, he took all those things with him and we just want them back.”
Airbnb told Marshall’s mom that their belongings had been passed on to the authorities while the incident is under investigation.
Florence’s oldest brother, Chad, and her sister-in-law, Amy Green, say they had a similar experience.
“We thought that going to the embassy first would aid us in that regard, but they didn’t have translators that could accompany us to the various places like the forensics office or police station,” Green said.
WAVY reached out to the U.S. embassy for comment on the investigation but did not receive a response before publication. The embassy did provide New Orleans outlet WDSU with this statement:
“We can confirm the death of three U.S. citizens in Mexico. We are closely monitoring local authorities’ investigation into the cause of death. We stand ready to provide all appropriate consular assistance. Out of respect for the privacy of the families, we have nothing further to add at this time.”
Both families now say they hope no one else ever has to go through this.
“We should’ve never had to go through that type of leg work to realize that our baby passed away in a foreign country,” said Kelvin Florence, Kandace’s father. “Nobody even took the effort to notify us — a letter, a phone call, nothing.”
“Now it’s just a waiting game and hoping that they reach out to us,” Green said.
They’re seeing the challenge as an opportunity, as Kandace Florence says in one of the affirmations featured in her candle, to fight so others won’t have to go through what they’ve experienced.
“She said don’t go through it, glow through it,” her mother Freida says. “We are just glowing through her candles through it, just knowing that our healing is coming.”
Marshall and Florence’s bodies are expected to be flown to the U.S. in the next few days. The cause of death for all three Americans remains under investigation.
Marshall’s funeral is set for Friday, his family says.