A Madison woman charged in the Cayman Islands with having a gun in her luggage killed herself with a different gun when she learned prosecutors there intended to put her on trial a second time.
A day earlier, a Cayman jury couldn’t reach a verdict when she was tried in absentia.
Carol Ann McNeill Skorupan, 68, left her home near Lake Mendota for a walk April 18 and never returned, according to Madison police records. After she didn’t return phone calls, her husband called the police, who joined others in searching woods near her home on Thorstrand Road.
After learning she had been upset over the pending case, and was likely armed, the officers donned body armor and a ballistic shield as they continued their search. But when they found her, she was already dead.
McNeill Skorupan, a certified public accountant who was active in the Dane County and Wisconsin Republican Party, became among the highest profile cases brought by Cayman authorities against American tourists caught with guns or ammunition, often as they left the tiny island nation.
After her mistrial, crown prosecutors said they intended to seek her extradition to the Cayman Islands, a local news outlet reported.
Guns and ammunition are strictly regulated in the Cayman Islands, a British overseas territory south of Cuba and northwest of Jamaica, as several American visitors have learned in recent years
While many paid various fines, most everyone got arrested and spent at least a night in jail, missing their return flights, sometimes for just a single round of ammunition. McNeill Skorupan and a Florida man had been the only cases set for trials.
As of Monday, more than three weeks after McNeill Skorupan died, her case remains before the court, according to the Cayman Department of Public Prosecution. Officials there would not comment further.
Suzette Ebanks, a spokeswoman for Cayman Island Government, said the director of public prosecutions will not discuss individual cases, but offered a general statement:
“Maintaining the security and well-being of those who live in the Cayman Islands, and those who visit our Islands is very important to us.
“By their very nature, guns and bullets are potentially lethal items that are subject to strict controls in the Cayman Islands. Offenses involving the unlawful possession or importation of firearms (including ammunition) are treated seriously, irrespective of the nationality of the offender, and irrespective of whether they are licensed to carry such items in other jurisdictions.
The statement noted that in cases involving inadvertent possession by “otherwise law-abiding citizens,” offenders can expect leniency, but that courts can impose lengthy prison terms in other circumstances.
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A conviction after trial of Illegal possession of an unlicensed carries a presumptive mandatory 10-year prison sentence — unless a judge finds “exceptional circumstances.”
Lost luggage sent to port
McNeill Skorupan flew to Florida in February to start a nine-day cruise out of Fort Lauderdale. One of her three bags was lost. When her ship stopped in George Town Feb. 3, she was notified that the bag had been found and sent to the local airport, where an X-ray revealed a .25-caliber handgun and six rounds of ammunition.
After she acknowledged it was her bag, she was arrested and charged with possessing an unlicensed firearm. She spent three nights in jail, pleaded not guilty and was released on house arrest at a George Town hotel before a court let her return to Wisconsin ahead of the April 15 trial.
Prosecutors believe she directed Delta Airlines to send her third bag to her in the Caymans without declaring the weapon; she insisted the airline acted on its own and that she planned to have the bag kept by a friend in Florida when it was found.
But she did not return for trial April 15, forfeiting her $25,000 surety bond.
Before her death, McNeill Skorupan declined several requests, both directly and through third parties, to discuss her case. Her Cayman attorney did not return calls and emails. Since her death, her husband also declined to speak with a reporter.
Friends, police search woods
Madison police reports show that McNeill Skorupan had been gone about two hours when police were called around 5:30 p.m. Her husband explained that her experience in the Cayman Islands had been traumatic, but he did not believe she was suicidal or had any weapon.
Another officer ran into friends already searching for McNeill Skorupan in the area. They described her as very stressed and said she often carried a gun.
One friend was calling out into the woods, words to the effect of “It’s not as bad as you think,” according to the reports.
That officer contacted another officer who was speaking with McNeill Skorupan’s husband at their home. He then checked the house and realized a gun normally kept in the bedroom was missing.
Following directions on a Find My iPhone app, officers found McNeill Skorupan’s body about 150 yards east of some apartments on Overlook Pass.
David Meadors, a South Florida business owner, was charged with illegal importation of a gun in 2017 after customs inspectors found boxes of 9mm ammunition in a shipping container sent to Cayman Brac, where Meadors was building a multimillion-dollar retirement home.
He then showed officials a gun he had locked in an apartment, which he said he intended to take on his boat when on the Carribean Sea. He was charged with several offenses and pleaded guilty to one before he was allowed to return to Florida for medical treatment.
“I know how Carol Anne felt. When you’re a law-abiding citizen you can’t believe an innocent mistake that hurt no one could ruin your life. My wife and I are heartbroken about Carol Anne and frankly worried sick about my situation and my health.
“I’m trying very hard not to lose hope the justice system in the Caymans will, in the end, treat me fairly, but after two years of this nightmare I can tell you on most days the despair wins.”
Meadors now faces trial on the other counts in June.
Contact Bruce Vielmetti at (414) 224-2187 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @ProofHearsay.
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