A 26-year-old Queens woman looking for work in Jamaica’s tourism industry was found dead with her throat slashed on the side of a rural road in the island nation.
The body of Desiree Gibbon was discovered Sunday morning in the small northwestern town of Anchovy on a road called Long Hill about four miles from Montego Bay.
Residents spotted the blood-caked body in the bushes and alerted the police, according to the LoopJamaica.com website.
Her devastated parents were hurriedly making arrangements Thursday to fly to Jamaica.
“It has to have been a complete stranger. Desiree had a heart of gold, everybody loved her,” said her aunt, Peggy Brunner. “Everything hurts. It's hard to breathe.”
Vintage crime photos from the Daily News
Vintage crime photos from the Daily News
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Brunner said Gibbon’s father owns a hotel in Jamaica. She went there planning to get a job in the resort industry.
Gibbon arrived there on Oct. 20 with a three month visa, according to local reports.
Jamaican authorities identified her body by taking her photo around to resorts in the Montego Bay area. One of the hotels they visited turned out to be her father’s.
The coroner’s office is conducting an autopsy to determine how she died.
"It may take weeks, months even," Brunner said, choking up.
Gibbon attended Frank Sinatra School of the Arts High School in Astoria for a year before graduating from Benjamin N. Cardozo High School in Bayside, her family said.
She competed in pageants and modeled and acted from the time she was a baby.
"She loved to travel," Peggy said. "She went to Brazil and worked in camps teaching English. And she taught herself Portuguese."
"She lived life to the fullest."
Her devastated parents have started a GoFundMe page to raise money to bring her body home to Queens. The request had raised $10,594 from 158 people of the $20,000 in donations sought as of Thursday afternoon.
The outpouring moved Gibbon’s mother, Andrea Cali-Gibbon.
“I am astounded at your generosity,” she wrote Thursday.
“There are just no words for this tragic event. We are destroyed and broken beyond repair.”
Cali-Gibbon noted that her daughter loved to travel and experience other cultures. Her nickname was “Desi.”
“I cannot express the loss I feel,” she wrote. “I need to know that her life was meaningful and how much she touched all of you.”
She wrote that she and the victim’s father are flying to Jamaica Friday to try to speak with investigators. She was at the passport office preparing for the trip Thursday, Brunner said.
Police in Jamaica did not respond to emailed requests for information.
Gibbon was one of 12 people murdered over the weekend in St. James Parish, a county with a population of about 184,000, the Western Mirror website reported.
In September, a 68-year-old California woman, Heidi Ann Muth, was stabbed to death in Montego Bay. The retired teacher was knifed in the head and chest.
Gibbon’s body was found two days before a major tourism conference in Montego Bay began. Speakers at the conference included the prime minister of Jamaica, Andrew Holness and World Tourism Organization head Taleb Rifai.