Jessica Savano was at the Istanbul airport, Turkey, flying to Croatia, when she saw a missed call that shook her to her core. It was from Colette Seymore, the mother of the missing 41-year-old woman, Taylor Casey, who disappeared while attending a yoga retreat in the Bahamas. 

“I knew it was something bad. I just felt it in my spirit,” Savano, Casey’s best friend of more than 20 years, tells Travel Noire.

Casey, a practicing yogi for more than 15 years, was attending a month-long yoga retreat at Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat in Paradise Island, as we previously reported. The yoga center offers a variety of classes and workshops for people to enhance their yoga skills and train to become instructors. Casey’s mom said her daughter was “eager to share her yoga experience with others upon her return.” 

Plans to return home is why the family and Savano don’t believe she would deliberately walk away from her life. Savano tells Travel Noire that while there is a lot of speculation about what happened to Casey, she doesn’t think her disappearance is related to foul play from the yoga retreat center. 

“It’s a multimillion-dollar business. They have centers all around the world. They’re not just going to kill somebody,” says Savano.

Taylor Casey and Jessica Savano
Jessica Savano

Why Friends Think Her Identity May Have Played A Role In Her Disappearance 

The last message Savano received from Casey was three days before she went missing. Savano sent Casey a voice text about the fun she was having in Istanbul and then reminded Casey that she loves her. Casey replied with her latest adventure in the Bahamas, adding how the yoga courses are “intense.” 

According to Savano, authorities provided Casey’s loved ones with crucial information that might shed light on the night she disappeared. A witness at the retreat reported hearing Casey leave around 11 p.m. on the night she was believed to have gone missing. Investigators also noted the possibility of a nearby house party at the time. 

“Knowing her and her telling me how intense this program was, I thought maybe since it was Juneteenth, she was probably going out for a little bit and went out to this party,” Savano says. “Maybe someone drugged her, threw the phone in the ocean, and took her somewhere. Where? I don’t know. Is she alive? I hope so.”

Taylor Casey and Jessica Savano
Jessica Savano

Now, amid heartbreak, frustration, and confusion, Savano is in a race to find Casey and bring her back home safely. She has joined Casey’s family in demanding Bahamian authorities to do more. There’s a Chuffed fundraiser called “Find Taylor Casey” that has raised more than $25,000. The goal is $30,000. 

“We don’t feel as though the Bahamian authorities have done enough to locate her. There are several missing people in the Bahamas, and we don’t want this case to be forgotten about,” Savano says. 

What especially frustrates Savano are the snide comments from social media users about Casey’s identity as a transgender woman.

“When you see people commenting on her looks and saying, ‘that’s a man,’ it’s hurtful to me and her family reading that,” she says. “She’s more than that. She surpassed gender.  She’s a spiritual being and comfortable with who she is.”

Friends Describe Taylor Casey As A ‘Supportive’ and ‘Intelligent’ Friend 

Savano is digital content creator who’s known widely for her videos on YouTube, where she has nearly 170,000 subscribers. Her channel focuses on the power of human connection and the magic that happens when people step out of their comfort zones. She attributes her success to supportive people in her corner, like Casey.

“She’s just one of a kind,” says Savano. “The one thing that really made her special to me was the constant encouragement. She was [the kind of person] who really wanted her friends to grow, exceed, and to keep growing.”

She goes on to say, “Taylor would ask questions like, ‘What are you doing this week to improve your brand?’ Most people don’t ask you those kind of questions. Taylor had a real genuine way of helping you grow.”

Casey’s disappearance has been difficult for her family and friends to process, especially as her birthday approaches. She turns 42 on July 11. In what sounds like a pause to hold back the tears, Savano describes Casey as having the kind of spirit that would brighten the darkest days.

Taylor Casey and friends.
Jessica Savano

“She was so nerdy and innocent. How can anyone want to harm her? I just don’t understand it,” she says. “We had a deep friendship that was so extraordinary and spiritual.”

In addition to her travel content, Savano uses her platform to inspire women to travel solo. 

“This definitely hits home being a solo traveler, who travels the world alone as a woman, as an American,” she says. 

Her advice for solo travelers, especially women, is to remain vigilant about your surroundings and never let your guard down when traveling.

“You cannot trust anybody. No one is your friend,” she says. “You have to stick to yourself. I don’t go out. I’m in bed by 10 pm. If you’re going to go out and drink, be careful who you’re surrounded with and watch your drink at all times.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Royal Bahamas Police Force at 502-9991/2 or Crime Stoppers at 328-TIPS (8477).

Taylor Casey Missing in the Bahamas
Photo Credit: Jessica Savano