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Bahamas police chief involved in missing Chicago yogi investigation suspended over voice memo scandal

The chief inspector of the Royal Bahamas Police has been relieved of his duties in connection with the investigation into the disappearances of several people, including a Chicago woman who disappeared during a yoga class.

Detective Chief Inspector Michael Johnson, the supervising officer of the Police Detective Division, agreed to take paid leave on July 5 after “voice notes” of him unrelated to the searches began circulating on social media.

Five leaked voice memos reportedly show Johnson negotiating a deal with police to drop the investigation into a gang leader who was murdered in May Tribune242.

RBPF officers later told reporters the voice notes raised “serious concerns” about the unit and damaged its public image.

“The Royal Bahamas Police has a proud history of service,” Police Commissioner Clayton Fernander said, according to NBC5“Unfortunately, there may be cases where individuals do not meet our standards of integrity. This is painful, especially when it involves senior positions, no one, and I repeat, no one is above the law.”

Taylor Casey, 41, disappeared June 20 after traveling from her home in Chicago to the Sivananda Ashram yoga center in the Bahamas. (Find Taylor Casey/Facebook)

He noted that the situation had affected “public trust” and “confidence” in the police.

The blow to the department comes as Bahamian police continue to investigate several missing persons cases, including that of Taylor Casey, an American woman who disappeared while attending a yoga camp.

Casey was last seen late in the evening on June 19 at the Sivananda Ashram yoga center on Paradise Island in Nassau.

In an update, Fernander said a search involving divers and underwater drones was conducted in the area where Casey’s phone was found, but no new evidence was found.

Casey’s mother, Colette Seymore, traveled to the Bahamas to meet with police, U.S. Embassy officials and members of the yoga center where her daughter was staying.

Taylor Casey, 41, disappeared June 20 after traveling from her home in Chicago to the Sivananda Ashram yoga center in the Bahamas. (Casey Family)

“I had to return home without her. It’s every mother’s worst nightmare,” she said in a statement after the trip. “I felt an urgent need to return because without the support of the (U.S.) government, we may never know what happened to my Taylor.”

She wants the FBI to take over the investigation, saying she is unhappy with the way the search in the Bahamas is going.

The police department is also investigating the case of Devon Issacs, a 17-year-old from the area who went missing nearly two months ago.

The United States issued a travel warning for the Bahamas in January, raising it to “Level 2.” U.S. officials warn would-be visitors that they should “exercise increased caution in the Bahamas due to crime.”

“Violent crimes such as burglaries, armed robberies and sexual assaults occur in both tourist and non-tourist areas. Be vigilant when staying in short-term rentals that do not have private security companies,” the warning says.

Last month, Latia Duncombe, the country’s director general of tourism, responded to the warning and assured travellers that the site was safe.

“The destination is safe and we need to make sure that visitors feel safe when they visit the Bahamas,” Duncombe said. “Anytime something strange happens, it increases the concerns and we want to make sure that we handle it in a very thoughtful way.”