When spring break arrives, college and high school students flock to the most popular party destinations in search of fun and sun. They leave the safety of their dorms, their apartments, or their parents’ home and venture into what they assume is a place where they will be free to express their adulthood without criticism or consequence. But, what the young spring breakers do not realize is that where they are traveling for spring break, may be a party destination to them, but it is also a place where danger lurks. And a place where dangerous people are more than willing to take advantage of their naivete.
The majority of spring break accidents and deaths that occur are associated with alcohol, which isn’t shocking since the majority of spring breakers partake in some form of binge drinking during their week of freedom.
Though some deaths that occur during spring break are tragically self-inflicted, others are crimes that are terrifyingly gruesome. These are ten spring break horror stories that might make readers think twice about all that fun in the sun.
10. Molly Ammon
In 2014, students of the University of Florida took a break from their studies at Madeira Beach. Among the group of students was Molly Ammon, a 19-year-old freshman, and several of her friends. After a night of drinking at a condominium, Ammon became so intoxicated that her friends had to put her to bed at about two in the morning. They checked on her once or twice before falling asleep themselves. That was the last time anyone saw Ammon alive.
The following morning Molly Ammon was found dead in the same place her friends had laid her down the night before. Ammon died in her sleep, of apparent alcohol poisoning.
9. Zeke Rucker
Many crimes that occur during spring break in Mexico are never solved. Such was the case of Zeke Rucker in 2010. The 21-year-old received a vacation to Cancun, Mexico as a gift from his parents for his upcoming graduation from Rutgers University.
On the first day of his stay, Rucker took a morning to lounge beside the resort pool. That was when he was inexplicably attacked, suffering two fractures to the back of his skull.
Rucker was found by a hotel security guard and he was then flown to Miami, Florida for treatment. Rucker was under heavy sedation and comatose at Jackson Memorial Hospital for weeks. When he finally regained consciousness he spent months learning to walk and talk all over again.
8. Amanda Eskridge
On March 16, 2004, Amanda Eskridge and three of her close friends went to Cancun, Mexico for a relaxing spring break. The twenty-year-old University of Maryland student walked through the streets of Cancun with her friends. As she crossed a very dark street she was struck by a Cancun Mass Transit bus. After she was hit, the bus driver continued to drive, only stopping when several bus passengers protested. Amanda’s purse was found and returned to her friends four days after her death. All of her money was gone and only her driver’s license remained. There were no charges filed against the driver and it took Eskridge’s parents four days and a $4,000 bribe to Mexican authorities to retrieve their daughter’s body.
7. Christine Lazzaro
In 1993, Christine Lazzaro was a 20-year-old on spring break in Daytona Beach, Florida. After several nights of carefree spring break partying her body was found, in a grassy spot beside Dirksen Drive in DeBary.
There were inquiries into Lazzaro’s whereabouts before her body was found, but there was little information besides a few sketches of a man that locals said they had seen the young woman with. Despite law enforcement’s best attempts to find Lazzaro’s killer, the case went cold.
For years there was not a hint of evidence to allow authorities to reopen the case. Then, 17 years after the murder of Christine Lazzaro, an inmate by the name of Romalis Gordon confessed to Lazzaro’s murder. Gordon was already serving two life sentences for murdering two women during a robbery at a truck stop casino on 2006. According to Gordon, he chose to kill Lazzaro because he caught her looking through his bag and suspected she had seen his fake identification cards. High on cocaine and alcohol, Gordon grew suspicious and chose to kill Lazzaro.
6. Lucy Gradolph
The bone-chilling winters of Lansing, Michigan, often send students of Michigan State University in search of warmer weather during their week of spring break freedom. For Lucy Gradolph, an MSU senior, the warm weather was found in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. She had been to the popular spring break party spot before and was ready to celebrate her final year as a college undergraduate. But, on March 7, 2014, Gradolph’s spring break fun turned into a nightmare. On her final day of spring break she partied with friends at the nightclub, Mandala. As she did every night, Gradolph left the club and hailed one of several dozen cabs that waited to take her and other spring breakers back tot heir hotels.
A man from Mandala hailed her a cab and, without her permission, climbed into the back of the cab with her. He immediately began assaulting her as the driver argued in Spanish about whether or not to kill her. When the cab stopped Gradolph thought she could run for help. But the cab driver and the man threw her to the sidewalk and both took turns sexually assaulting her. Just as Lucy Gradolph assumed her life was going to end, a van drove past and spooked the men. They drove away, leaving Lucy to find a way back to her hotel room and to safety.
Gradolph was brave enough to share her story in February of 2015 as a way to warn other young ladies to always stay with a group and never put yourself in a vulnerable position.
5. Matt James
In 2010, a 17-year-old St. Xavier High School student went to Panama City for spring break. The senior, Matt James had a promising college and football career ahead of him with a recent recruitment to the University of Notre Dame. But after a night of heavy drinking, Matt James’ life was cut short. At approximately 6:30pm, he fell from a fifth-floor hotel balcony, and died instantly. The 6-foot 6, young man who was an offensive lineman was the second St. Xavier student to die during the school year (Kevin Le a junior wrestler was killed in September).
4. Craig Taylor
At the age of 21, Craig Taylor took a break from his education at Valencia College and traveled to Cancun, Mexico with his brother. Their spring break was just as normal as any other until Taylor’s wallet was stolen at a nightclub. After an altercation with club employees, Taylor left on his own. That was the last time anyone saw Craig Taylor. His body was found in Punta Same, a town just a few miles from Cancun. Taylor had been strangled. The owner of the bar and five workers were detained but no arrests were made.
3. David Parrish
David Parrish was a junior at the University of Colorado in 2008. At 21-years-old the young geography major went to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico with his mother for spring break. At 4 p.m. on March 26, Parrish was the victim of an attempted robbery. When Parrish resisted the two robbers he was shot and killed.
The attack happened near the Puerto Vallarta’s marina. According to Mexican authorities, two men were arrested. However, Alfonso Ramirez one of the men connected with the murder was able to escape from jail days later. The second suspect, Daniel Vargas remained in jail.
2. Brittanie Drexel
Like many teenagers, Brittanee Drexel wanted to be with her friends on spring break. Despite her mother, Dawn Drexel’s, refusal to allow her to go away for spring break, Drexel went to Myrtle Beach with several friends. On the evening of April 25, 2009, 17-year-old Drexel went to the Blue Water Hotel to meet her friends. She was seen on hotel security camera as she left the hotel lobby, and that was the last time anyone has seen her. Areas south of Myrtle Beach have been searched by authorities and despite several different bones and various human remains being found, nothing has matched or given any leads to Brittanee Drexel’s whereabouts. The former Gates Chili High School student’s mother moved to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina to continue the search for her daughter. She has not given up to this day.
1. Mark Kilroy
Even as far back as 1989, students were vacationing in Mexico. Mark Kilroy, a pre-med student at the University of Texas, ventured with friends to Brownsville, a location just over the U.S. and Mexico border. They walked over the Rio Grande to Matamoros, a popular spring break spot in Mexico. But instead of a peaceful break, Kilroy found himself a part of a drug ring voodoo ritual.
After being separated from his friends, Kilroy was kidnapped by Mexican gang members. He was tortured, his head skinned off by a machete, his brain boiled, and his heart ripped out. According to police, the ritual was part of a religion known as palo mayombe, a voodoo cult that began in Africa. Kilroy’s body was eventually found in a shallow grave.
The killing was orchestrated by Adolfo de Jesus Constanzo, a man who moved between drugs and voodoo and a crew of men and women who followed him. Constanzo and his crew kidnapped people from the streets and tortured them. Constanzo was shot in a gun battle with Mexican police but many of his followers escaped.
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