United States

Virginia Couple Presumed Dead After Yatch Hijacked by Escaped Prisoners, Say Cops

A US couple whose catamaran was hijacked last week in the Caribbean by three escaped prisoners were presumed dead and likely had been thrown into the ocean, police said Monday.

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AP
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A US couple, Ralph Hendry and Kathy Brandel, who were sailing their catamaran in the Caribbean, are presumed dead after their vessel was hijacked by three escaped prisoners. The incident occurred last week, according to authorities in Grenada and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Don McKenzie, the commissioner of the Royal Grenada Police Force, disclosed in a news conference that the escapees hijacked the couple's catamaran, named Simplicity, a day after breaking free from the South Saint George Police Station on February 18th. The prisoners then sailed the vessel towards St. Vincent, where they were arrested last Wednesday.

McKenzie stated, "Information suggests that while traveling between Grenada and St. Vincent, they disposed of the occupants." However, he emphasized that there is no conclusive evidence confirming the couple's demise, but the probability of their survival is deemed low.

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Hours later, Junior Simmons, the main spokesman for the Royal St. Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force, shared in a video message that despite the absence of bodies, the investigation led them to presume the couple's death. Signs of violence were found aboard the abandoned vessel in St. Vincent, including scattered items and a substance resembling blood.

The suspects, identified as Trevon Robertson, Abita Stanislaus, and Ron Mitchell, faced accusations of various criminal acts, including bodily harm to the couple. Mitchell, in particular, was charged with serious offenses such as rape and attempted rape.

Hendry and Brandel, described as "veteran cruisers" and active members of the Salty Dawg Sailing Association, were esteemed figures within the sailing community. The couple's tragic fate has left their loved ones shattered, especially considering Brandel's recent joy of becoming a first-time grandmother.

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Amidst questions about the handling of the escaped prisoners, McKenzie assured the public that investigations are underway to determine if there was a systemic failure or oversight leading to the tragic outcome. Meanwhile, authorities from Grenada have dispatched a team to St. Vincent to assist in the ongoing investigation.

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