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Jan 22, 2020

Search Efforts Called Off; F.B.I. to Join Investigation for Missing Woman

Alison MacKenzie

The Belize Coast Guard says that the chance of finding Alison Mackenzie alive is nil. They wrapped up their search mission on Tuesday evening, after they widened the search area. As the Coast Guard ended its search for the missing woman, the Belize Police Department received an offer of help from the F.B.I.  As we have reported this week, police are no closer to finding out what happened to MacKenzie to cause her to disappear from Rendezvous Caye. The small caye, less than an acre, is located about twenty-one miles away from Belize City. MacKenzie and fourteen other tourists were there for an over-night trip. A search of the island didn’t turn up anything useful for investigators. News Five has been following MacKenzie’s disappearance. Here’s another report as search efforts conclude.


Andrea Polanco, Reporting

Search efforts for missing American national Alison MacKenzie have been called off. Today marks five days since MacKenzie disappeared off Rendezvous Caye, where she was on an over-night catamaran tour. The Belize Police Department has been investigating this missing person’s case since Saturday morning. Local cops haven’t made any progress into establishing the whereabouts. As was reported on Monday, they questioned MacKenzie’s fifty-eight-year-old boyfriend, Paige Rote, but didn’t consider him a suspect in her disappearance. Commissioner of Police Chester Williams says that the F.B.I. has offered to assist with the investigation:


Chester Williams

Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police

“The F.B.I. has engaged us with offering assistance. I have said to Mr. Myvett and Mr. Cowo that I have no objection. We welcome any assistance that they can give to this cause. We are hoping that the result will be positive, even though it might seem far-fetched at this time.”


And that’s the reality right now – the Belize Coast Guard ended their search on Tuesday evening. The hunt for MacKenzie started on Saturday morning where the Coast Guard searched Rendezvous Caye and nearby areas but didn’t find any clue into her whereabouts. This week they expanded the search to a bigger area – south of Rendezvous Caye all the way to Alligator Caye. They also added a second unit to look for MacKenzie but their efforts were fruitless. Today, Operations Officer of the Belize Coast Guard Lieutenant Roque Canul messaged to say, “We have now concluded the search mission. It’s five days today and we think the chance of survival is nil. Our search policy is 72 hours but we had extended it for another day. I sympathize with the family but we had to put a cut off time.” On Monday, Canul told us that MacKenzie was not acting oddly on Friday night before she vanished. He lamented that authorities weren’t called in – which he believes could have prevented this tragedy:


Roque Canul

Lieutenant Roque Canul, Operations Officer, Belize Coast Guard [File: January 20th, 2020]

“I really want to stress on the importance of being attentive from the part of the tour guides. If the information was that she was behaving erratic, that is something that should have considered from the beginning instead of letting it pass by without informing relatives or relevant authorities; perhaps, it would have been something that could have been avoided.”


For now, no one knows what exactly happened to MacKenzie. Police reported that she was drinking on Friday night. While the theory that someone may have harmed is circulating online, there is nothing to prove this. And Belize police and MacKenzie’s family don’t believe her boyfriend is a suspect in her disappearance. In a Facebook post, her boyfriend suggests that perhaps MacKenzie went for a walk and fell off the sea wall. Others elsewhere speculate that she went for a late night swim in turbulent waters and was swept away. While these theories are no comfort for the MacKenzie family, they have only pleasant memories left of her.


On the Phone: Jodie Dixon, Sister of Missing Woman

“She was the most beautiful, gentle soul ever. I called Raggamuffin Tours to find out any information that they had on her. Even they said that she was sweet and she was kind; that she was thoughtful and helpful to the passengers and the crew. And that everybody liked her in the short period of time that they got to know her.”


Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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