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Missing American Sailing Couple Is 'Presumed' Dead After Boat Hijacking In Caribbean -- UPDATE

American Sailing Couple Missing In Caribbean – After Police Think Three Escaped Prisoners Violently Hijacked Boat!

UPDATE 2:52 P.M. PST: Ralph Hendry and Kathy Brendel are officially presumed dead. During a press conference on Monday, Junior Simmons of the Royal Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force announced:

“Based on the investigation thus far it is presumed Ralph Hendry and Kathy Brendel are deceased.”

Kathy would have turned 71 on Wednesday. Her husband was 66. While their bodies have not yet been recovered, authorities confirmed they discovered evidence “consistent with signs of violence” from their yacht.

The three inmates believed to have hijacked the couple’s boat have been re-arrested and are cooperating with the investigation. They haven’t been charged for the couple’s disappearance yet, but have pleaded guilty to four counts of immigration-related charges connected to illegally entering Saint Vincent by boat. This is in addition to the charges that already had them in custody. Their scheduling is set for March 4. You can see the full press conference (below):

R.I.P., Kathy and Ralph. Sending love to their family and friends.


An American couple sailing the world on their yacht has gone missing after an apparent hijacking by three escaped prisoners in the Caribbean. And some authorities sadly believe they may already be dead.

According to reports, Kathy Brandel and Ralph Hendry went missing on February 18 while sailing their yacht, Simplicity, in Grenada. That same day, three prisoners had escaped from their holding cell in the area and “made their way to St. Vincent via a yacht which was docked in the St. George area,” the Royal Grenada Police Force revealed in a press release on Thursday. While an investigation is ongoing, the authorities believe the occupants of the yacht were American citizens who “may have been killed in the process” of the apparent hijacking. Oof.

While the local authorities did not release the identities of the sailors, they were identified by the Salty Dawg Sailing Association to which they belonged, as well as by their family, who is now speaking out about the horrifying details of the case.

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Thanks to a “good Samaritan” in the area, the boat was found anchored and abandoned off the south coast of St. Vincent, per the sailing association. Kathy’s son Nick Buro spoke with CNN on Sunday, sharing:

“The boat itself was ransacked and everything was strewn about in the entire cabin so clearly there was an altercation of some type that took place on the boat which does indicate that we are concerned for their safety overall because it does appear that they were likely injured.”

According to the son, the couple, originally from Virginia, sold their home to buy this boat a few years ago. They’d been using it to travel the world ever since, and this was their first time in the Caribbean — something they’d planned to do for a long time. Throughout all their adventures, they always prioritized safety, which is why this news is especially upsetting, he noted:

“They were super careful to be safe all the time. Everywhere they went everything they did, safety was their top, top concern so this unfortunate accident, I think, it came out of nowhere for them.”

As for the investigation, all three suspects — Trevon Robertson, 19, Abita Stanislaus, 25, and sailor Ron Mitchell, 30 — were once again apprehended on Wednesday, February 21, and they are being responsive to questions, Nick continued:

“As far as we know three suspects are allegedly connected with this horrific event are in custody with the St. Vincent police and are being questioned. We are doing our best to try and get answers to find out what is next in terms of hopefully finding them safely recovered somewhere on the islands.”

That said, based on the evidence so far, his family members “are concerned” about the possibility that the travelers “aren’t with us.” Just heartbreaking!

Per the local authorities, the men allegedly involved in this case were originally being held after they were “charged jointly with one count of Robbery with Violence.” Ron was also charged with “one count of Rape, three counts of Attempted Rape, two counts of Indecent Assault, and Causing Harm.” There is one other individual, Levon Date — who was charged with killing a man last year — who escaped at the same time and is still missing. It does not sound like they think he was involved in this situation.

Meanwhile, a source close to the investigation told People that two of the fugitives confessed to killing the couple while the third was hospitalized for a gunshot wound to the leg. Such a devastating tragedy, if true.

Those who wish to help the family during this difficult time can donate to a GoFundMe page on behalf of Nick and Ralph’s son, Bryan Hendry. Money will be used to recover the ship and their belongings, funeral costs, and grief support to the families. Donate HERE.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to all of Kathy and Ralph’s loved ones! We hope authorities can help provide more answers.

[Image via GoFundMe]

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Feb 26, 2024 09:39am PDT