In spring 2015, a couple from Salem died aboard a cruise ship and now one estate is suing the other for wrongful death.
According to the lawsuit, the estate of Darla Jean Mellinger Banner, has filed a lawsuit against the estate of John Carl Banner.
John Banner and his recently wed wife Darla Banner took a cruise aboard the Holland American MS Rydam leaving from Tampa for a 14 day Southern Caribbean cruise. On April 2, the ship was docked in Puerto Rico and at around 11.30 a.m. the crew discovered the bodies of the couple in their stateroom. Initial reports stated the deaths were a murder-suicide. The local police began the investigation and it was taken over by the FBI.
According to a report in local newspaper in Salem, Ohio, the couple was known to the police as just after their honeymoon, the woman went to hospital with a knife injury.
The lawsuit alleges that John Banner killed Darla Banner intentionally by hitting her, strangling her and suffocating her. She was aged 56 at the time of her death and is survived by her son, her mother and other relatives. The lawsuit goes on to claim that had she lived she would have earned at least $480,000.
According to passengers on board, they allege that the pair were involved in a love triangle and had taken the cruise to try and stabilize their relationship. However, the third person involved in the love triangle has sent Darla Banner a text saying that he wanted their relationship to continue. Once John Banner had read the text it was alleged that he broke a glass and stabbed his wife in the throat and then hanged himself in the bathroom.
The results of the investigation have not yet been made public by the FBI.