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VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Two Virginia Beach families are hoping for answers after their loved ones were found dead last week inside a Mexico City Airbnb.
The families of Jordan Marshall and Kandace Florence have been in contact with the U.S. embassy, working to get their bodies home and find out exactly what happened to them.
Marshall and Florence both graduated from Kellam High School in 2011 and remained friends. They were vacationing in Mexico City, with Marshall’s friend from New Orleans, Courtez Hall. They were there for “Dia de los muertos” or Day of the Dead.
Their families say they both made a big impact in the short time they had.
“It kind of felt like being in her presence and just remembering how powerful she was,” said Florence’s sister-in-law, Amy Green.
Family members say Florence was a creator and a force to be reckoned with.
“She was a dreamer, dreamer meaning she wanted to make a difference in the lives of other people,” said Florence’s mom, Freida Florence.
Kandace Florence started a candle business in 2020, called “Glo Through It.” Her candles feature an affirmation to empower those who burn them.
The candles are for sale at “The Painted Tree Boutique” in Virginia Beach. Her family says she was incredibly proud of the business she started. Her brother, Chad, even helped her build her display.
“She said don’t go through it, glow through it,” her mother said. “We are just glowing through her candles through it, just knowing that our healing is coming.”
Kandace Florence’s boyfriend was on the phone with her on the night of October 30 when she started getting sick. She told him something wasn’t right. The two eventually got disconnected and he couldn’t get her 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,” said Marshall’s mom, Jennifer Marshall.
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 got there and they couldn’t even get into the Airbnb to get his things, Marshall said.
“His wallet, his laptop, he took all those things with him and we just want them back.”
Florence’s sister-in-law, Amy, and oldest brother, Chad, 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.
Marshall was a teacher in New Orleans. His mom says he was very passionate and incredibly proud of his work as an educator.
“We’re just glad that he did have that opportunity in his short time to make an impact.”
Florence and Marshall’s families say they hope no one else ever has to go through this.
“We should’ve never had to gone 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.
“I was worried that they would get lost in the shuffle and so I prayed,” Freida Florence said. “I said we need intervention that everyone that they meet that there would be somebody along their path that would guide them to Kandace and bringing her back home.”
They’re seeing the challenge as an opportunity, like Kandace says in one of her candle affirmations, to fight so others won’t have to go through what they’ve experienced.
“The last thing you think is that trip, that vacation is going to end in death, and so we are really struggling with how to help the next family, the next circumstance run smoother,” Florence’s mother said.
Airbnb told Marshall’s mom that their belongings had been passed on to the authorities while the incident is under investigation.
Marshall and Florence’s bodies are expected to be flown to the U.S. in the next few days.
Both were 28 years old. Kandace’s 29th birthday would have been on Thursday, November 10.
Marshall’s funeral is Friday, and the cause of death for all three is still under investigation.
10 On Your Side reached out to the U.S. embassy for comment on the investigation and will update this story when we hear back. They provided the NBC affiliate in New Orleans, 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.”