A U.S. couple is feared dead after their boat was allegedly hijacked by escaped prisoners in the Caribbean. Here’s what to know.

A U.S. couple is feared dead after their boat was allegedly hijacked by escaped prisoners in the Caribbean. Here's what to know.

Authorities in the eastern Caribbean are engaged in a frantic search for a missing U.S. couple who were last seen aboard their catamaran Simplicity over a week ago. The situation took a grim turn after police in Grenada revealed that the catamaran, owned by Ralph Hendry and Kathy Brandel, had been hijacked by three escaped prisoners from Grenada. Tragically, authorities suspect that Hendry and Brandel were thrown into the ocean and perished.

The search efforts commenced on February 21 when the couple’s abandoned catamaran was discovered on the shores of St. Vincent. According to police reports, the three prisoners escaped from a police station on February 18 and subsequently commandeered the catamaran a day later. After docking the boat on the southwest coast of St. Vincent, the fugitives were apprehended two days later on the island’s northwest coast.

Hendry and Brandel were esteemed members of the sailing community, known for their adventurous spirit and warm personalities. Described as seasoned sailors, the couple embarked on various sailing expeditions, including the 2023 Caribbean Rally from Hampton, Virginia, to Antigua. Their tragic fate has left family, friends, and fellow sailors devastated.

The escaped prisoners, identified as Trevon Robertson, Abita Stanislaus, and Ron Mitchell, were previously charged with serious offenses, including robbery with violence and, in Mitchell’s case, additional charges of rape and indecent assault. While the investigation into the couple’s disappearance is ongoing, authorities have not yet disclosed any evidence linking the prisoners to the incident.

As the search continues, questions linger about the circumstances surrounding the prisoners’ escape and the subsequent hijacking. Authorities in Grenada have launched an inquiry into the escape, examining whether there were any lapses in security protocols at the police station.

Despite the heartbreaking news of Hendry and Brandel’s presumed demise, their family remains hopeful as efforts to locate them persist. The tragic ordeal underscores the dangers faced by seafarers and the profound impact of criminal activities on innocent lives.