The family of a retired Virginia couple presumed dead after escaped inmates from a Grenada jail hijacked their yacht have revealed their disturbing final movements.
Ralph Hendry and his wife, Kathy Brandel, were sailing around the Caribbean island and had docked near Saint George’s when the catamaran was hijacked last Saturday.
Police fear they may have been murdered by suspects Trevon Robertson, Ron Mitchell and Atiba Stanislaus after “large amounts of blood” were found in their bedroom on board the ship.
The trio were detained at South Saint George’s police station on the island when they escaped and are believed to have killed the couple before traveling to St Vincent.
But Hendry’s sister, Suellen Desmarais, is holding out hope that he and his wife are still alive as she shares their last known movements.
Ralph Hendry and Kathy Brandel are believed dead after their boat was hijacked by three escapees from a Grenada prison.
The couple were sailing on their catamaran ‘Simplicity’ and enjoying a once-in-a-lifetime trip when the incident occurred.
The suspects, Trevon Robertson, Ron Mitchell and Atiba Stanislaus (pictured), were being held at the South Saint George police station on the island when they escaped.
“They went into town to get something to eat and walk back (Sunday),” he told WPTV. “Somehow Ralph crossed paths in this small town with these three men, what happened after that, we’re not sure.”
The couple, in their 60s, live aboard the ship called ‘Simplicity’ and were enjoying a once-in-a-lifetime trip they had been planning for 12 years.
‘This was their whole life, they didn’t own another house, they didn’t own cars, they owned Simplicity.
“Ralph and Kathy are the kindest people in the world and I cannot understand how a tragedy like this could happen to people as kind and kind as them,” Desmarais said.
“It feels contrived and I can’t understand why anyone would do this.” Why didn’t someone just take the ship?
‘What happened in Granada was a perfect storm. “It was a perfect tragedy, a perfect storm, a perfect love story.”
AIS data indicates that the ship left Grenada at around 10pm from Grand Anse Beach before being discovered the following Wednesday.
The St Vincent Times reported that the boat was found with blood stains inside, but there was no sign of the couple.
Hendry’s sister, Suellen Desmarais, is hopeful they are alive.
The boat was found 85 nautical miles from where the couple had last been seen.
The couple, from Virginia, had been sailing around the Caribbean island and had docked the Simplicity near St. George when it was captured.
‘Large volumes of blood were discovered in the main cabin. Numerous personal effects were also lost. “Passports discovered on board allowed police to contact the victims’ emergency contacts,” according to a security report filed in Caribbean Security and Safety Net.
Local police issued a statement Thursday confirming that the three fugitives had been captured.
Prior to this, officers had warned that the trio might be armed and to approach them with caution.
While they were all jointly charged with one count of robbery with violence, Mitchell was charged with one count of rape, three counts of attempted rape, two counts of indecent assault and causing harm.
The couple had been part of the Salty Dawg Boating Association and said a cruise skipper found the Simplicity abandoned on a beach.
According to the association, the person boarded the boat and found evidence of apparent violence.
They added that they had spent the winter sailing in the Eastern Caribbean after sailing from Hampton, Virginia, to Antigua.
The association described them as “veteran cruisers,” both “kind-hearted.”
Bob Osborn, president of SDSA, said: “This is a very disturbing event and authorities have not yet confirmed the details, but it appears to be a tragic event – our hopes and prayers are with Ralph and Kathy and the family who loves them.”
‘I have spoken to the families and offered our deepest condolences and help in every way possible.
“In all my years of sailing in the Caribbean, I have never heard of anything like this.”