Darla J Mellinger Banner Murder – John C. Banner Suicide – Cruise Ship Murder-Suicide on Ryndam, April 2, 2015, Time of Death 11:30
Cruise Ship Murder Suicide Ryndam April, 2 2015 On Thursday, April 2, 2015 aboard Holland America Line Ryndam, cruise ship cleaning crew found a couple dead in their cruise ship cabin. The couple was found dead in their bloody cruise ship cabin, around 11:30 am, right before the Ryndam docked in San Juan, Puerto Rico at Pier 3. The couple Darla J Mellinger-Banner, 56 and John C Banner 56, resided in Salem, Ohio which is a suburb of Youngstown, Ohio.
Reports say Banner proposed to Darla while the couple were in Cozumel, Mexico. They were then married on October 2, 2014 in the Salem Historical Society’s Heritage Garden. Both were retired.
Salem Police Detective Dave Talbert says his department was contacted by the FBI on April 2, 2015 to see what information was available on the couple. Talbert says the couple were known to Salem police from a December 21, 2014 incident where Darla Banner was injured in a knife accident. Salem police were called to a local hospital by hospital staff, because Darla Banner had arrived for treatment of chest wound caused by a knife.
When police arrived at the hospital, they were told a story that seemed odd, but the explanation was suitable. The couple were newlyweds, who had just arrived home from the honeymoon cruise. Police were told the man went to a closet to unpack from their honeymoon cruise, finding an old military dagger in the closet. John Banner tripped on a rug as he went into the bedroom to show his wife the relic. He fell towards his wife, who was sitting on the bed. The knife plunged into her chest causing a non-life threatening injury. Police ruled the incident a “freak accident”. The investigating officer stated, “All she said was what a great guy he was,” Talbert recalled
This time, the couple embarked on Ryndam at Tampa, Florida on Sunday, March 29 for a 14-day Caribbean cruise, celebrating the Easter holiday. Ryndam then arrived at Key West, Florida on Monday, March 30 before two days at sea.
The cruise ship sailed toward Puerto Rico, for a noon arrival on April 2. The FBI were notified by ship officers for a murder-suicide. A large team of FBI crime scene investigators along with local police boarded Ryndam to begin conducting the investigation.
There is a new, unconfirmed report by a Holland America Line insider, which alleges John C. Banner was found hanging in the cabin bathroom. This was the basis of the murder-suicide conclusion statement by Holland America Line.
There was also the fact that Darla Banner had been found dead in their cabin from an alleged stab wound. There were signs John Banner had been the person who stabbed her, before hanging himself in what could be described as a jealous rage.
The report alleges after John Banner found a cell phone text to Darla from another man, he broke a glass object in their cruise ship cabin, creating a weapon, which he then used to stab her.
Darla Banner’s previous husband, Dennis Lynn Mellinger, 49, passed away in September 3, 2012 at their home. He was 49.
This is the second recent horrific murder aboard a cruise ship in a couple’s cabin. Shirley McGill, 55, from Winnetka, California was on a 5-night-cruise to Mexico celebrating her 55th birthday, when her husband Robert McGill murdered her during an argument in their cabin, which became bloody. Robert McGill confessed and was convicted of her murder.
There was also the shocking case of Karen Roston, murdered by her newlywed husband Scott Roston, while they were on their honeymoon cruise. Published author, Scott Roston blamed spies from Israel for her murder.
There is also the case of newlywed George Allen Smith. Smith’s family said he was murdered and tossed overboard while on his honeymoon cruise. His wife was passed out in a cruise ship hallway, when a blood trail would lead to the discovery, Allen had gone overboard.
This is the second time in the past century, there was a gruesome murder-suicide on a cruise ship. The first case, Ernestine Vivian Bressel, wife of Louis Campagna, was shot dead on the cruise ship, then Louis Campagna killed himself. In that case, Ernestine Vivian Bressel, who was initially thought to be his mistress, was actually the second wife, in a case of bigamy.