Skip to content
Eli Kassirer at home in New Paltz, New York. His daughter Lauren died under mysterious circumstances in July 2018. 

Eli Kassirer at home in New Paltz, New York. His daughter Lauren died under mysterious circumstances in July 2018. 

Photographer: Tiffany Hagler-Geard/Bloomberg

Father Says Airbnb Aid After Daughter’s Death Was Damage Control

Company provided money and support when a New York high school teacher was found unconscious in a rented villa in Mexico. Her father now says the family was caught up in an effort to avoid a ‘public relations nightmare.’

Lauren Kassirer, a 35-year-old New York City high school teacher, was found naked, bruised, and near death in an Airbnb rental on the Yucatan Peninsula three years ago this month. Now, with no answers about how she died and no one arrested, her father is looking back at the company’s offers of help and wondering if he got caught up in a damage-control campaign.

“They took advantage of our family’s vulnerability to avoid a public relations nightmare,” said Eli Kassirer, 74, sitting at his kitchen table in New Paltz, New York, in late June, surrounded by documents about the case and a box containing his daughter’s ashes. He said he decided to speak publicly for the first time after reading a story in Bloomberg Businessweek last month about how the company handles violent crimes at its listings, providing victims and their families with money and working hard to deflect bad publicity. He said he regrets that he followed Airbnb’s advice to delay talking to the media and worries that other young women may suffer as a result of lax safety practices at short-term rentals. But he doesn’t blame Airbnb for Lauren’s death, and his anger is also directed at what he views as a shoddy investigation by local authorities who didn’t examine the scene and misplaced evidence.