Was it an Accident or a Murder? The Case of the Yoga Twins

Twins are so fascinating, especially identical twins. The fact that two people share the same DNA and a special bond that began in the womb is extremely special. As intriguing as a twin connection is, at times, it can be toxic. In some cases, sharing the same DNA with someone and feeling like you are constantly being compared to your sibling can lead to jealously, resentment, and sometimes even hatred.

The twins posing together / The car at the bottom of the cliff / Alexandria Duval in court with a broken arm
Source: Pinterest / ABC / Pinterest

Anastasia and Alexandria Duval are known as the “yoga twins” because they were yoga studio owners. The sisters worked together, lived together, and spent a lot of time with each other. From the outside, it seems like they had it all: a thriving yoga business, incredibly good looks, and, most important, they had one another. But, in reality, they had a twisted relationship, filled with envy and fights. Then one of their arguments got out of hand and ended with Anastasia’s death.

The big question is, was it an accident or murder? This is the shocking story of the Duval twins, aka The Yoga Twins.

The Fateful Crash

On May 29th, 2016, an SUV drove off the road and ended up at the bottom of a 200-foot cliff in Maui, Hawaii. Two women were found in the wreckage: Alexandria and Anastasia Duval. 37-year old Alexandria was driving the car and walked away with a few minor injuries. The passenger was her twin sister, and unfortunately, she wasn’t as lucky.

The white SUV crushed on the rocks at the bottom of a cliff
Source: ABC

Anastasia was pronounced dead at the scene. Alexandria was put on trial for second-degree murder over her sister’s tragic death. Since her initial arrest, Alexandria was released and rearrested. That’s when the truth about the twins’ toxic relationship and strange history was revealed. The girls’ unsettling behavior included drinking problems, abruptly closing their studios and disappearing, previous arrests, and even changing their names.

The Alleged Crime

According to the Associated Press, witnesses told them they saw the Ford Explorer SUV “accelerate forward and then take a sharp left over the cliff.” But a witness account stated that on the day of the accident, he saw the girls in the car “screaming and arguing with each other.”

Crew working around the crushed car in the rocky water
Source: ABC

The witness added that before the crash, the “passenger was pulling at the driver’s hair and steering wheel.” To make matters even stranger, investigators found “no attempts of breaking based on witness accounts, roadway debris, and at the scene, and vehicle’s airbag control module.” At this point, things weren’t looking good for the driver- Alexandria.

Alexandria’s Arrest

On Friday, June 3rd, 2016, Alexandria was arrested at the Seaside Hotel in Maui and held without bail for second-degree murder. However, on June 8th, Alexandria was released, and the charges against her were dropped after the judge cited that there wasn’t enough evidence. Still, the prosecutors had the opportunity to bring the case to a grand jury.

Alexandria’s mug shots
Source: YouTube

In October, a grand jury indicted her, and on November 11th, Alexandria was rearrested in Albany, New York, and sent to Hawaii, where she was held on a $3 million bail. In February 2017, she was finally released on a $200,000 cash bail.

A Twin Thing

The Duval twins were born in 1978, in Utica, NY, as Alison (later Alexandria) and Ann (later Anastasia) Dadow. The girls tragically lost their mother when they were five years old, so the sisters were forced to grow up without a mom. It was difficult at first, but they made it through; they knew they always had each other.

Alexandria and Anastasia Duval in their cheerleader uniforms
Source: Twitter

In high school, the girls were cheerleaders, but when they grew out of their childhood hobby, they continued to use their talents. In adulthood, they went across the country and created a career in the yoga industry. Unfortunately, they also ran into issues with the law.

Twin Power Yoga Studio

In 2008, Alison and Ann opened their Twin Power Yoga studios in Palm Beach County, Florida (which lasted until 2014). They were known as fun, energetic girls with local magnetic personalities. The girls even drove around in matching Porsches. Thanks to their lifestyles and natural charm, they were approached by their spiritual advisor, Leslie McMichael, to star in a potential reality show.

The twins doing a yoga pose with their hands coming together above their heads in the shape of a heart
Source: M Style Photography

Around that time, things started to go downhill for the girls. McMichael met them at the Kabbalah Center and told Maui News that the producers pushed the girls into renting out a more expensive studio space for 2011. Unfortunately, the reality show did not end up happening, and the girls couldn’t afford the space, which pushed them into debt.

Bad Reputation

Leslie also described Alison (Alexandria) as the twin with the “big, dominant personality” and called Ann (Anastasia) “the sweetest, kindest, most level-headed person you would ever meet.” But other sources weren’t as kind. Local tabloid, GossipExtra, continuously referred to the girls as the “terrible twins of yoga.”

The twins doing a yoga pose with their hands near their chest forming heart shapes
Source: M Style Photography

In 2014, they abruptly shut down their studios. People close businesses all the time, but the way the girls did it raised some red flags. The main concern was that they left without paying their employees and without refunding customers who had already paid for a membership. Needless to say, everyone felt angry and ripped off.

Changing Their Names

The girls disappeared to Park City, Utah, and that’s when they changed their names- supposedly because they wanted to write a book. So now, the girls had officially taken on the names Alexandria and Anastasia and decided to get back into the yoga business. Since they had a thriving yoga studio in Miami, they decided to open a local one in Utah.

Alexandria and Anastasia Duval posing back to back
Source: Pinterest

But they couldn’t run away from their problems in Florida. Each sister was approximately $150,000 in debt and forced to file for bankruptcy. Their time in Utah included frequent disorderly and drunken conduct. According to Maui News, they got kicked out of a restaurant in 2014 for drinking too much.

Disorderly and Drunken Conduct

The Maui News also stated that the girls had been involved in another crash where “officers said the twins fought with each other and with police who arrived after their car slid into a ditch. Hair pulling was also involved.” Hair pulling and physical fights happen with siblings, but at 37-years old, you’d think they would be a little more mature.

One of the twins doing a yoga pose while the other one stands above her explaining something next to a small lake
Source: YouTube

This wasn’t an isolated incident. The girls were known for drinking excessively, and this behavior had already occurred back in Florida. Unfortunately, the former Yoga glory they experienced in Florida didn’t follow them to Utah. Their studio wasn’t nearly as successful as the first one.

A Religious Quest

The girls decided to take off once again. This time, they were headed towards Hawaii “on a religious quest.” They landed on the island in December 2015, and it didn’t look like things were going particularly well. Their unlawful behavior seemed to follow them, and, on Christmas Eve, they were arrested for disorderly conduct and terroristic threatening.

Frederico Bailey taking a selfie in the woods
Frederico Bailey, boyfriend of Anastasia Duval. Source: Facebook

Alexandria and Anastasia lived with their respective boyfriends in May 2016 – Lonnie Dickerson and Frederico Bailey – in a nice rental in Maui. Dickerson was the registered owner of the SUV involved in the crash. Of course, he wasn’t driving the vehicle, nor was he anywhere near it at the time of the crash.

That Fateful Day

Bailey told the Maui News the events that had led up to the crash. Apparently, he and Anastasia had planned to go away on a couples camping trip over that long weekend- but Alexandria decided to tag along. It ended up sparking a fight between the sisters, like basically everything else in their toxic relationship.

The twins posing back to back with their palms together
Source: Pinterest

He claimed that at a certain point, they left without him, but when they returned, everything seemed to be completely fine between them. However, Bailey noticed that the girls had bought alcohol, and he was extremely disappointed in them. He was helping them work on getting clean, but they had snuck away and bought wine.

Drinking Problems

Various accounts reported that the twins suffered from severe alcoholism and needed help. Heavy drinking can bring out the worst in people, and Alexandria and Anastasia were certainly no exception. Anastasia’s ex told the Palm Beach Post that, “They were great people when they were sober, but the minute they [started] drinking they were like Jekyll and Hyde.”

The twins being interviewed in front of their yoga studio
Source: YouTube

At some point, he went into the bushes to use the bathroom, and when he returned, he noticed that the twins had ditched him. This was supposed to be a romantic weekend with his girlfriend, so Bailey was angry and frustrated that they had taken off again. What he didn’t expect was a tragic crash.

Alexandria Faces Life in Prison

Alexandria’s attorney, Birney Bevar, filed a motion to have the case dismissed by late November, arguing that the prosecutors had misled the grand jury. According to an article in People magazine, Bevar’s defense seemed to be, “the crash was a tragic accident that has left his client heartbroken.”

Alexandria being led in court by sheriffs
Source: YouTube

When that motion got denied, she waived her right to a jury trial, opting to be tried by a judge instead. Alexandra’s trial began on January 29. 2018, and she faced the possibility of life in jail if convicted of second-degree murder. Shockingly, she was acquitted of the charges that she had intentionally killed her sister.

Not Guilty

Alexandria Duval was acquitted of the charges that she had steered the SUV she was driving off a cliff in Hawaii- where it plunged 200 feet- on purpose to kill her identical twin sister. The car ended up in the rocky outcrop east of Maui. Investigators said there was water almost everywhere and suspected that she almost needed to try to drive off right where the rocks were.

Anastasia and Alexandria Duval posing together in their yoga studio t-shirts
Source: Facebook

During the second-degree murder trial, a judge said that there was critical evidence which raised doubt that the car crash was intentional: a clump of Alexandria’s hair was found clutched in her dead sister’s hands. “The deceased pulled her sister’s hair so hard that she could yank it out of her scalp,” Judge Peter Cahill claimed.

The Trial

That evidence suggested that a brutal fight had broken out between the sisters while driving, which caused Alexandria to lose control of the vehicle, which swerved sharply and flew off the narrow Hana Highway. Prosecutors also presented evidence that a struggle took place.

Alexandria with her lawyer standing in court
Source: ABC

But they argued that the tie marks and information from a data recorder in the car showed that the driver accelerated and made a “hard left turn” without applying the brakes. Since she didn’t try to stop the car, it showed that she purposely steered the Explorer off the road in an apparent murder-suicide.

Alexandria’s Strange Behavior

According to testimony, Alexandria’s behavior turned bizarre after the crash. Anastasia’s boyfriend at the time, Federico Bagley, said that after her sister’s death, Alexandria started to impersonate her twin, even wearing his dead sister’s clothes. He added, “she began cuddling up on me. It seemed like she was flirting with me.”

Alexandria on Dr. Phil
Source: YouTube

Authorities became suspicious when Anastasia left the hospital and tried to book flights to the West Coast. But before she could go anywhere, the police went to her hotel and picked her up. The case gained national attention because of the unusual circumstances of the crash and the twisted relationship between the two sisters.

Before They Were Anastasia and Alexandria Duval

As we mentioned, before they were Anastasia and Alexandria Duval, they were Alison and Ann Dedow. The name change, leaving Florida, and ripping off their customers and employees should have raised concerns that something wasn’t quite right with these girls.

Alexandria and Anastasia Duval doing a yoga pose together
Source: Facebook

Even though they were obviously close, the twins were known to engage in physical fights, and hair-pulling was usually involved. One of Anastasia’s ex-boyfriends, Keith Weiss, told ABC News that he “had to pull them off each other” when they pulled each other’s hair. “They’re knocking each other down to the ground, he added.

Other Instances of Drunken Violent Behavior

Another scuffle between the sisters took place in his car. Weiss claimed that after a night of drinking, Anastasia tried forcing his car off the road. “She turned over her left leg and kicked my right hand at first on the steering wheel,” he said. “I swerved into the left lane, and luckily, there was nobody there.”

Alexandria and Anastasia posing together in sports bras
Source: M Style Photography

But he added that, in his eyes, he still thought that “they cared about each other more than anything else.” I can’t imagine what I would have done in that situation. But here is some relationship advice: If your girlfriend is trying to drive you off the road, there is a chance you’re in a toxic relationship.

Witness Statements

Chad Smith was one of the most important witnesses when it came to this case. He claimed that he did see the girls speed on the tropical, beautiful, narrow Hana Highway on the coast of Maui. Hawaii News Now reported that Smith testified that he was forced to swerve out of their way on that dangerous road.

The car at the bottom of a large cliff in rocks covered in water
Source: YouTube

Lawrence Lau, another witness, claimed that “I could see a pair of arms from elbows to hands yanking the head of the driver. The driver’s head was being pulled to the side.” This statement makes it look like the drunken fight caused the tragic crash and that Alexandria didn’t intentionally kill her sister.

Murder or Accident?

Defense lawyers made the crash look like a terrible accident. “The tire marks show the car not taking a sudden left turn,” claimed attorney Birney Bervar. “That’s certainly a reasonable doubt that there was any criminal behavior whatsoever, and my client is not guilty.” The judge overseeing the case waived a jury trial.

Alexandria and Alexis Duval posing together
Source: ABC

Despite their immature behavior, childish fights, and alcohol abuse, the girls were sisters. We all fight with our siblings, but, at the end of the day, we love them… right? Do you think Alexandria killed Anastasia intentionally? Or do you think a fight that got out of hand caused the accident?