Thursday, July 18, 2024
spot_img
InicioNautic LifeMystery in the Caribbean: American Sailing Couple Vanishes as Yacht Drifts 80...

Mystery in the Caribbean: American Sailing Couple Vanishes as Yacht Drifts 80 Miles Away

Kathy Brandel and Ralph Hendry were sailing in Grenada when they went missing last week. Police allege three local prison escapees may be responsible for their disappearance.

<p>Jessica Mause/GoFundMe</p> Kathy Brandel and Ralph Hendry have been missing since last week. Police say they may have been murdered by three prisoners who escaped their custody.

Jessica Mause/GoFundMe Kathy Brandel and Ralph Hendry have been missing since last week. Police say they may have been murdered by three prisoners who escaped their custody.

A sailing captain was paddle-boarding along the Saint Vincent shore when he noticed a ransacked yacht with a broken sail.

Concerned, he boarded the abandoned SV Simplicity. Its deck was covered in blood. Then the captain found two American passports belonging to Kathy Brandel and Ralph Hendry.

The captain took photographs of the yacht, sending them to an email address he found in a note onboard.

“The ship inside is very messy,” he wrote in the email to Salty Dawg Sailing Association. “Can you contact them?”

But Association President Bob Osborn says he could not reach the couple, who had lived aboard the yacht for a decade and who had last been spotted Feb. 18 docked in St. George, Grenada, about 80 miles from where the yacht was later found.

<p>Courtesy of Robert Osborn</p> The couple's SV Simplicity was found abandoned last week with an unrolled and broken bow sail.

Courtesy of Robert Osborn The couple’s SV Simplicity was found abandoned last week with an unrolled and broken bow sail.

Speaking by phone Thursday as they prepared to leave for the Caribbean in search of their parents, Nick Buro and Bryan Hendry tell PEOPLE that they last heard from the couple Feb. 18, noting that the lack of contact is unusual.

The SV Simplicity was reported as “an unoccupied sailing vessel,” with “visible blood stains” on deck to the Coast Guard Service at 11:15 a.m. Feb. 21, per an internal memorandum obtained by PEOPLE between Commanding Officer Deon Henry and Police Commissioner Enville Williams.

<p>Courtesy Nick Buro and Bryan Hendry</p> Kathy Brandel and Ralph Hendry
Courtesy Nick Buro and Bryan Hendry Kathy Brandel and Ralph Hendry

“The entire interior of the vessel and its decks were ransacked,” the commanding officer wrote, naming the missing couple.

The following day, the police commissioner forwarded the memorandum to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, noting: “It is imperative that the families are promptly and compassionately informed of the incident.”

Automatic Identification System data, collected by the U.S. Coast Guard, shows SV Simplicity leaving a Grenada harbor around 10 p.m. Feb. 18 and arriving in Saint Vincent around noon the next day.

<p>Royal Grenada Police Force</p> Police have linked Ron Mitchell, Trevor Robertson and Atiba Stanislaus to the possible murders of the couple.

Royal Grenada Police Force Police have linked Ron Mitchell, Trevor Robertson and Atiba Stanislaus to the possible murders of the couple.

The Royal Grenada Police Force links the couple’s disappearance to the escape of three prisoners from their nearby holding cell Feb. 18, per a press release Thursday, alleging the men may have killed the couple.

“Preliminary information emanating from investigators in St. Vincent suggests that the three men made their way to St. Vincent via a yacht which was docked in the St. George area,” police said in the release, which did not name the couple, but added that the two Americans “may have been killed in the process.”

Police identified the Grenadian prisoners as Trevon Robertson, 19, Abita Stanislaus, 25, and sailor Ron Mitchell, 30.

They were previously arrested in December, charged jointly in a violent robbery case, per police.

<p>Royal Grenada Police Force</p> Ron Mitchell
Royal Grenada Police Force Ron Mitchell

Mitchel was additionally charged with one count of rape, three counts of attempted rape, two counts of indecent assault, and causing harm.

Police re-apprehended the prisoners Feb. 21.

Video of one arrest, published by local media, includes shouts of “Gun! Gun! Gun!” and an escapee in his underwear, blood streaming down his legs as an official rounds him into the back of a pick-up truck.

<p>Jessica Mause/GoFundMe</p> Ralph Hendry and Kathy Brandel
Jessica Mause/GoFundMe Ralph Hendry and Kathy Brandel

A source close to the investigation tells PEOPLE that two of the men have confessed to killing the couple. The third – hospitalized for a gunshot wound to the leg – had not been interviewed as of Friday.

The men have not been formally charged in the case.

<p>Courtesy Nick Buro and Bryan Hendry</p> SV Simplicity in a photograph before the yacht was ransacked.
Courtesy Nick Buro and Bryan Hendry SV Simplicity in a photograph before the yacht was ransacked.

Will Knoll, a longtime friend of the Alexandria, Va., couple, remembers Kathy, a retired real estate agent who would have turned 71 Wednesday, and Ralph, a financial advisor, as a loving, Christian couple who were happily married over two decades.

Knoll — who had been sailing with them in December — says he is frustrated that more is not being done to locate them.

“Where are the U.S. citizens and what is being done to find them?” he asks. “There are still a lot of unanswered questions.”

- Advertisment -spot_img

Subscribe to our newsletter

To be updated with all the latest news, offers and special announcements.

LATEST ARTICLES