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Woman vanished from Bahamas yoga retreat in ‘deeply unsettling’ case, says mom

Click to play video: 'Taylor Casey: Family pushes for answers after woman vanishes from Bahamas yoga retreat'
Taylor Casey: Family pushes for answers after woman vanishes from Bahamas yoga retreat
Taylor Casey: Family pushes for answers after woman vanishes from Bahamas yoga retreat

A woman that vanished from a yoga retreat in the Bahamas almost three weeks ago is still missing, and her mother calls the details and her disappearance “deeply unsettling.”

Taylor Casey, a 41-year-old yoga practitioner from Chicago, travelled to Paradise Island in the Bahamas last month to attend the Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat, but was declared missing when she didn’t show up to a scheduled yoga class on June 20.

The Royal Bahamas Police Force said in a statement that she was last seen on June 19.

A missing persons flyer for Taylor Casey. Royal Bahamas Police Force

On Monday, Bahamian police gave an update in the case, saying they had found Casey’s cellphone in the water but they had been unable to access its contents, reports CNN. Shortly after she disappeared, a police tracking dog picked up a scent from a yoga tent and tracked it to the water, but the scent ended there, police said.

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Casey’s mother, Colette Seymore, went to the Bahamas to help in the search efforts and meet with officials and the retreat leaders late last month, but she said the family is “not satisfied with how this investigation has been handled thus far.”

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In a news release last week, after returning to the U.S., Seymore said she felt uneasy with how the retreat leaders are handling her daughter’s disappearance, claiming that the retreat had a “cultish” feel and she felt students were being “coerced to obey” retreat leaders, “even if that meant holding back information about my child.”

“It became apparent to us when we met with the Sivananda Ashram leaders that they were struggling to keep a linear and cohesive narrative regarding Taylor’s disappearance,” said Casey’s close friend, Emily Williams, who travelled with Seymore to the Bahamas.

The press release claims the women were told by police not to talk to any of the resort’s guests, and that they had to “beg” to talk to students of the yoga retreat but it felt “like they were told what to say and what not to say.”

Jonathan Goldbloom, a spokesperson for the retreat, told NBC News last week it has been fully cooperative with police and family and encouraged guests to speak.

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“All of us are distraught over Taylor’s disappearance, and our hearts go out to her family and friends,” he said in an email to NBC. “With that in mind, I wish to advise you that we did our best to provide Taylor’s mother and friends with support and comfort while they were in the Bahamas last week.”

Still, her friends told local outlet CSJ Report that despite poring over online images and videos from the retreat group, they were not able to spot Casey in any of them.

On a Facebook page dedicated to finding Casey, her mother said she believes her daughter “is in danger” and that she “would never disappear like this.”

“I believe Taylor is in danger because she was eager to share her yoga retreat experience with others upon her return,” Seymore wrote.

Casey’s passport is missing, despite all her other personal belongings remaining in the tent where she was staying, local authorities confirmed.

The U.S. State Department told CNN that they are aware of reports of a U.S. citizen missing in the Bahamas but declined to comment on Casey’s case specifically.

Last week’s statement from Casey’s family and friends criticized the actions of investigators and police in the Bahamas, saying they provided incomplete information and demonstrated a “lack of serious attention” to the case.

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Local authorities said they have brought in drones, dogs and divers in what they called an “extensive” search.

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