Young American couple, killed by armed gangs in Haiti, devoted lives to missionary work

A young American couple who devoted their lives to missionary work in Haiti were killed Thursday night, along with the Haitian director of their non-profit, after two armed groups attacked their mission in the country’s volatile capital.

“I’m just at a total loss,” David Lloyd, 48, told the Miami Herald, confirming the deaths of his son Davy Lloyd, daughter-in-law Natalie Lloyd and director Jude Montis. “I’m just in total shock. I haven’t grieved. I haven’t done anything else. I haven’t eaten. I can’t think.”

The three were killed by armed gunmen who attacked Missions In Hope, a U.S.-based non-profit near Bon Repos, a gang-controlled community just east of the capital. The attack served as a reminder of the ongoing violence by criminal armed gangs who since Feb. 29 have released thousands of inmates from two prisons, attacked police stations and schools and forced the shuttering of the airport and seaport.

“It is just another example of the violence that spares no one in Haiti,” said Stéphane Dujarric, spokesman for United Nations Secretary General António Guterres, while offering his condolences to the family.

The details of what happened were still not clear Friday, said Lloyd, who had flown out of Port-au-Prince with his other son the day before the attack. But the non-profit was hit by two different armed groups during the day, he said. Davy Lloyd was trying to inform his dad about what was happening on the property when the three were killed and the house was set on fire.

Workers who extracted the bodies on Friday told the Herald that despite fears the couple had been set on fire, their bodies appeared to have been pulled out and rescued from the flames.

Missions in Hope runs a school for 450 children, has a children’s home and a commercial bakery, where Lloyd said “we give bread to anyone who’s hungry.”

“We haven’t had any problems,” he said. “We’ve operated school every day. We’ve had church on schedule. We got a commercial bakery that’s open every day. I’ve never had been asked for any money to operate or stay open. I’ve never had any issues.”

On Thursday Davy, 23, and Natalie, 21, were ambushed by armed gunmen belonging to the Terre Nwa/Terre Noire (Black Land) gang based in the area of Sarthe. The ambush happened on a day on which many Haitians had anticipated a deployment of Kenyan police officers. Terre Nwa is led by Cathel Jones, an ally of the G9 gang federation led by former policeman Jimmy “Barbecue” Chérizier. Arrested by police in December 2021, Jones is among the thousands of inmates who recently escaped after armed groups stormed the country’s two largest prisons on March 2.

Jones’ gang members went onto the mission’s property late Thursday just as Natalie and Davy were coming out of church with several youths.

“They drove him into the house, tied him up and beat him,” Lloyd said. “Then they proceeded to loot the whole house, everything they wanted and took my trucks and drove off with them.”

After the gang left, the staff and children untied Davy and he headed to his parents’ house on the property to call his dad. On the way to the house, he and Natalie met up with Montis, the director who has been with the nonprofit for 20 years, and others who had stepped outside to see what had happened.

“All of a sudden there was this immense panic. Everybody started running,” David Lloyd said. “The kids ran around back, put ladders up and climbed over the wall.”

Suddenly the place was invaded with more men with guns, members of another gang in nearby Canaan, controlled by man identified as “Jeff.”

“I was on the phone with my son when that was going down. He said, ‘Dad, we got a commotion again. I’ve got to go see what’s going on,” Lloyd said.

Lloyd said he has heard after the second gang arrived a gang member was shot and mayhem broke out. Davy, Natalie and Jude were all barricaded inside his parents’ home on the property.

“They eventually got into the house and killed all three of them and set their bodies on fire,” Lloyd said. He said he is trying to get the bodies to have them sent to a morgue.

David Lloyd and his wife, Alicia Lloyd, founded Missions in Haiti in 2000. Davy grew up in Haiti, his father said. “Creole is his first language and Haiti has his heart.”

David Lloyd recalled that when Davy left Haiti after high school for bible college in the U.S., “he told basically all the girls there, ‘Don’t even talk to me if you’re not willing to live in Haiti the rest of your life, cause that’s my home.”

Natalie Baker, whose father is a state lawmaker in the House of Representatives in Missouri, was willing to spend her life in the Caribbean country. The two got married two years ago and moved back to Haiti full-time. Natalie’s father, state Rep. Ben Baker, a Republican, shared the news about the couple’s death on his Facebook page.

“My heart is broken in a thousand pieces. I’ve never felt this kind of pain. Most of you know my daughter and son-in-law Davy and Natalie Lloyd are full time missionaries in Haiti. They were attacked by gangs this evening and were both killed,” Baker wrote. “They went to Heaven together. Please pray for my family we desperately need strength. And please pray for the Lloyd family. I have no other words for now.”

U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri said Davy and Natalie Lloyd “dedicated their lives to sharing the Gospel. They died in the mission field in Haiti last night at the hands of thugs. All of Missouri honors them.”

The deaths have the missionary community reeling. Though some missionaries have left after the State Department warned U.S. citizens to leave the country, others have remained in Haiti, where an impending deployment of police officers from Kenya to help lead a multinational security support mission has been pushed back after an assessment team from Nairobi found critical equipment shortages.

The assessment team, which has a meeting with the United Nations political office in Haiti on Friday, is scheduled to fly out on Saturday and head back to Nairobi.