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The Search for the Missing Americans

A Couple Goes Missing After Their Yacht Was Hijacked

Photo by Jéan Cloete on Unsplash

A yacht was found hijacked in the Caribbean Sea, and the victims are presumed to be dead. On Feb. 19, a married couple from Virginia, Kathy Brandel and Ralph Hendry, went missing after their yacht was ransacked. While details on the livelihood of the victims are unclear, the crime is tied back to three prison escapees.

The American couple was on a voyage with the Salty Dawg Sailing Association, where they spent their retirement sailing the Caribbean. Brandel and Hendry were last seen on Feb. 18, and the next day their yacht was seen anchored and abandoned off the coast of St. Vincent Island. The sailing association tracked the boat's location and noticed it remained unmoving. The association was also notified by a Caribbean samaritan who boarded the boat and saw destruction that suggested violence.

Based on the state the boat was left in, there is no sign of bodies or where the couple could be located. Authorities presume Brendel and Henry were killed and then disposed of into the ocean by the three escapees. 

“It's a concerning situation, and such incidents could potentially impact people's perceptions of safety while sailing in those areas and limit people from sailing in the future,” sophomore Anna Hawken said.

Police identified the culprits of this crime as three men who escaped a local police station on Feb. 18, and hijacked the boat a day later. The escapees were caught along the outside of St. Vincent Island two days after, and are currently in custody. The offenders were Ron Mitchell, a 30-year-old sailor, Trevon Robertson, a 19-year-old man and Abita Stanislaus, a 25-year-old farmer. All three men were in jail for one count of violence and robbery, while Mitchell was also charged with multiple counts of rape.

“The idea of this situation makes me have a worse fear of boats,” junior Sarah Cannon said. “If I were in that situation I would be more precocious of my surroundings after this event.”

The three men were taken to St. Vincent court a few days later, each pleading guilty to four counts of immigration charges. One of the charges being entering the territory with no charges. The prisoners are scheduled to be charged in March.

Grenada and St. Vincent authorities have released little information about the jurisdiction of the case. However, a thorough investigation will take place on how the prisoners escaped, and where the American couple is. Despite the police's presumption that the couple is dead, their family remains optimistic that they are still alive.


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Andy Poll

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