Thu. Apr 18th, 2024
alert-–-three-grenadian-inmates-suspected-of-killing-virginia-couple-on-their-yacht-appear-in-court-as-family-desperately-pleads-for-answersAlert – Three Grenadian inmates suspected of killing Virginia couple on their yacht appear in court as family desperately pleads for answers

The three Grenadian inmates suspected of killing a Virginia couple on their yacht appeared in court as the family has desperately pleaded for answers. 

Ralph Hendry and Kathy Brandel had been sailing around the Caribbean island and had docked near Saint George’s when their catamaran was taken on February 18. 

Police fear they may have been murdered by suspects Trevon Robertson, Ron Mitchell and Atiba Stanislaus, who were seen leaving Kingstown Magistrate Court on Monday in St. Vincent. 

The trio has been charged with entering the country by boat and disembarking without the consent of an Immigration officer, entering without a passport, entering at a point other than an official port of entry and landing as a prohibited immigrant. 

They have only been charged in relation to their illegal entry into the country, and are expected back in court on March 4. Ralph and Kathy’s bodies have not yet been recovered but ‘copious amounts of blood’ were found in their bedroom aboard the vessel.

The trio were were being held at the South Saint George’s Police Station on the island when they escaped and are believed to have killed the couple before travelling to St. Vincent. 

The couple, who were lifelong sailors and married 27 years, have been able to travel to 'many parts of the world' due to their boat lifestyle and were living a 'life of joy and love'. Pictured together: Ralph Hendry and Kathy Brandel

The couple, who were lifelong sailors and married 27 years, have been able to travel to ‘many parts of the world’ due to their boat lifestyle and were living a ‘life of joy and love’. Pictured together: Ralph Hendry and Kathy Brandel

Trevon Robertson

Atiba Stanislaus

Ron Mitchell

The suspects, Trevon Robertson (left), Atiba Stanislaus (middle) and Ron Mitchell (right) are seen walking out of Kingstown Magistrate Court on Monday in St. Vincent. Police fear that Ralph Hendry and Kathy Brandel were murdered by the escaped inmates 

The couple's family was hopeful they would be found, but evidence on their boat indicates 'they were likely injured'

The couple’s family was hopeful they would be found, but evidence on their boat indicates ‘they were likely injured’

According to investigators, each of the inmates were charged with violent robbery before they managed to escape. Mitchell was also previously charged with rape, attempted rape and indecent assault. 

Brandel’s son Nick Buro said the family was hopeful that his parents will be found, but evidence on their boat indicates ‘they were likely injured.’ He revealed the family is concerned ‘there might be a possibility that they aren’t with us.’ 

‘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,’ he told CNN Sunday, adding: ‘We are doing our best to try and get answers.’

The couple, who are in their 60s, live aboard the vessel, named ‘Simplicity’ and were enjoying a once-in-a-lifetime trip which they had been planning for 12 years. 

AIS data indicates that the vessel left Grenada around 10 pm from Grand Anse Beach before it was discovered the following Wednesday at Wallilabou Bay. 

The Salty Dawg Sailing Association, which the couple were members of, said a cruising skipper reported Simplicity abandoned off of the coast of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The person ‘found evidence of violence’ on the boat, it said.

It is understood that the boat was found with bloodstains on the interior and the pair’s personal belongings rummaged through, but no sign of the couple.

‘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,’ Buro told CNN. 

‘We are concerned for their safety overall because it does appear that they were likely injured.’

He said that his mother and stepfather were ‘super careful’ and ‘safety was their top, top concern’ everywhere they travelled. He suspects the ‘unfortunate’ and ‘horrific’ event likely ‘came out of nowhere for them’.

Two of the three murder suspects are seen hiding their faces with paper in the back of a pickup truck after they exited the court. The person in the middle is another prisoner being transported who is not related to the case

Two of the three murder suspects are seen hiding their faces with paper in the back of a pickup truck after they exited the court. The person in the middle is another prisoner being transported who is not related to the case 

Ralph Hendry and Kathy Brandel, (pictured) who are in their 60s, live aboard the vessel, named 'Simplicity' and were enjoying a once-in-a-lifetime trip that they had been planning for 12 years

Ralph Hendry and Kathy Brandel, (pictured) who are in their 60s, live aboard the vessel, named ‘Simplicity’ and were enjoying a once-in-a-lifetime trip that they had been planning for 12 years

The boat was found 85 nautical miles from where the couple had last been seen on it

The boat was found 85 nautical miles from where the couple had last been seen on it 

READ MORE: Family of retired Virginia couple presumed dead reveal their haunting final movements before three escaped inmates hijacked their yacht

‘What really, really is upsetting, is that that safety was taken,’ Buro told WJLA, hailing the situation as an absolute ‘nightmare’.

The couple have lived on Simplicity since 2013, after they decided to sell their home and the majority of their possessions to buy a boat.

They spent most of their time stationed in Florida, but would travel to Rhode Island during hurricane season. This winter was the first time the pair had sailed to the Caribbean.

Although Brandel ‘worked her whole life’ and has since retired, Buro said that Hendry – who is in the financial services industry – had ‘continued to work from the boat’.

The couple, who were lifelong sailors and married 27 years, have been able to travel to ‘many parts of the world’ due to their boat lifestyle and were living a ‘life of joy and love’.

Bryan Hendry, son of Hendry, revealed that his parents just ‘wanted to immerse themselves in different communities and share love and spread joy’.

He added: ‘If I do see my parents again, it would be the happiest moment of my life.’ 

Authorities have yet to officially confirm Brandel and Hendry as the owners of the yacht, but the Salty Dawg Sailing Association released a statement citing them as the owners. 

The couple had been sailing on their catamaran yacht 'Simplicity' and were enjoying a once-in-a-lifetime trip when the incident occurred

The couple had been sailing on their catamaran yacht ‘Simplicity’ and were enjoying a once-in-a-lifetime trip when the incident occurred

Atiba Stanislaus is seen walking out of the courthouse with his head down and one of his buttons undone on his checkered shirt. The three inmates were previously charged with violent robbery before they escaped  prison

Atiba Stanislaus is seen walking out of the courthouse with his head down and one of his buttons undone on his checkered shirt. The three inmates were previously charged with violent robbery before they escaped  prison

Ron Mitchell is seen shielding his face with a green paper as he is loaded on to the back of a truck. He was also previously charged with rape, attempted rape and indecent assault

Ron Mitchell is seen shielding his face with a green paper as he is loaded on to the back of a truck. He was also previously charged with rape, attempted rape and indecent assault

The missing couple’s family met with authorities in St. Vincent on Saturday, where they were seen boarding the Simplicity. It was being guarded by officials, one of whom was wearing latex gloves.

Hendry’s family issued a statement Saturday thanking police, local coast guards and all those who helped authorities gather information.

READ MORE: Couple presumed dead after three inmates from Grenada jail escaped and stole their catamaran as ‘copious amounts of blood’ found in their bedroom 

‘It means so much to us that so many people cared for Ralph and Kathy as friends and fellow cruisers that they are willing to stop and help in whatever way possible,’ the family said. They also asked that all those trying to conduct independent searches to ‘stand down.’

‘The only way we feel this situation could be worse would be if anyone was hurt or endangered trying to conduct searches,’ the family said.

Authorities in Grenada said they had dispatched senior investigators and a forensic specialist to the nearby island of St. Vincent, where the escaped prisoners were arrested Wednesday.

The prisoners, ages 19, 25 and 30, were charged a couple of months ago with one count of robbery with violence. 

Mitchell, the eldest inmate, was also was charged with one count of rape, three counts of attempted rape and two counts of indecent assault and causing harm, police in Grenada said.

The three men escaped from their holding cell Feb. 18, according to police.

Authorities said a preliminary investigation suggested the three men seized the yacht at Grenada’s capital, St. George’s, and traveled to St. Vincent.

Ralph Hendry and Kathy Brandel (pictured) had been sailing around the Caribbean island and had docked near Saint George's when their catamaran was taken on February 18. Police fear the couple may have been murdered by three men who escaped a Grenada jail

Ralph Hendry and Kathy Brandel (pictured) had been sailing around the Caribbean island and had docked near Saint George’s when their catamaran was taken on February 18. Police fear the couple may have been murdered by three men who escaped a Grenada jail

Bryan Hendry (pictured with his father) added: 'If I do see my parents again, it would be the happiest moment of my life'

Bryan Hendry (pictured with his father) added: ‘If I do see my parents again, it would be the happiest moment of my life’

A GoFundMe page has since been set up by a family friend in order to help recover the boat and their belongings, as well as funeral costs. Ralph Hendry and Kathy Brandel are pictured with their family

A GoFundMe page has since been set up by a family friend in order to help recover the boat and their belongings, as well as funeral costs. Ralph Hendry and Kathy Brandel are pictured with their family

A GoFundMe page has since been set up by a family friend in order to help recover the boat and their belongings, as well as funeral costs. 

The page, which has already raised over $50,000, states: ‘Kathy and Ralph were seasoned sailors who lived on their beloved catamaran, Simplicity.

‘Their lives ended in unimaginable tragedy on Sunday, February 19th, off the shores of Grand Anse Beach, Grenada.

‘Their final voyage with the Salty Dawg Sailing Crew took an unthinkable turn as Simplicity was found abandoned in St. Vincent, bearing chilling evidence of a violent struggle.

‘This heartbreaking tragedy has left not only the sailing community, but also their families, shattered.’