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Desperate Search Continues: A Timeline of the Missing American Couple’s Disappearance

HomeU.S.Desperate Search Continues: A Timeline of the Missing American Couple’s Disappearance

The desperate search continues for American couple Kathy Brandel and Ralph Hendry, who mysteriously vanished while sailing their yacht Simplicity in the Caribbean seas last week. Family members fear the worst as evidence mounts that the two were likely victims of foul play by three escaped prisoners from Grenada.

Authorities from multiple islands have joined the investigation and search efforts, but a week later, the couple’s whereabouts remain unknown. With each passing day, hope dims for a positive outcome.

Loved ones cling to every shred of information, piecing together sparse details into a timeline that starkly reveals the couple’s final days. From their last communications to accounts of a ransacked boat and presumed death, here is everything we know so far about the disappearance of Kathy Brandel and Ralph Hendry:

Last Sighting – February 18

February 18 stands as the last confirmed sighting of Brandel and Hendry alive. The couple had docked their yacht, Simplicity, at a port in Grenada when they were spotted by a neighboring boater, their son Nick Buro told CNN. This routine encounter gave no indication of the tragedy soon to unfold.

By all accounts, Brandel, 70, and Hendry, 72, were meticulous about their safety during travels. Having sold their Virginia home to live on Simplicity full-time, the pair were seasoned sailors on an overseas adventure. Their Caribbean voyage marked a first for the couple, making their disappearance all the more perplexing.

Communication Ceases – February 18/19

On February 18 or 19, Brandel and Hendry abruptly stopped responding to all contact from loved ones, behavior highly uncharacteristic for the couple. This silence quickly raised alarm bells.

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The pair always maintained diligent communication wherever they roamed, frequently checking in with family via calls, texts and emails. For contact to suddenly cease with zero notice was inconceivable to those closest to them.

“They were super careful to be safe all the time, everywhere they went, everything they did, safety was their top concern,” said son Nick Buro. For communications to go dark was a dire warning sign that something had gone terribly wrong.

Yacht Docks in Saint Vincent – February 19

The next clue in the couple’s disappearance came on February 19 when their yacht, Simplicity, mysteriously arrived in Saint Vincent around noon. Investigators believe Brandel and Hendry were no longer aboard at this time.

A local sailor first spotted Simplicity apparently abandoned and ransacked in the harbor. He boarded the vacant vessel to investigate and was met with an alarming scene. According to Buro, blood stains covered the deck and the interior cabin was in complete disarray, with items strewn about chaotically.

Two passports belonging to Brandel and Hendry were found on board, immediately linking the yacht to the missing couple. The good Samaritan sailor documented the disturbing scene in photos sent to an emergency contact he found. But attempts to reach the couple remained unsuccessful.

Prime Suspects Identified – February 21/22

Critical breakthroughs in the case came on February 21st and 22nd as investigators traced Simplicity’s path back to Grenada and identified three prime suspects potentially involved in foul play.

CCTV footage revealed Simplicity had departed Grenada unexpectedly. Authorities then named three prison escapees from the island as likely suspects in hijacking the yacht and harming its passengers. The escaped inmates—Ron Mitchell, Trevor Robertson and Atiba Stanislaus—all had sailing experience.

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Grenada Police Force announced the convicts were apprehended on February 22 as illegal boaters docking in Saint Vincent. They remain in custody awaiting formal charges, and are said to be cooperating with investigators.

Family Fears the Worst – February 25/26

With evidence mounting over the ransacked boat and implicated suspects, Brandel’s son Nick Buro braced for the worst possible outcome while clinging to fading hope.

“We are doing our best to try and get answers, to hopefully find them safely recovered somewhere on the islands,” a distraught Buro told CNN on February 25th.

But he acknowledged, “We are concerned that they aren’t with us anymore.”

The next day, Buro’s fears were sadly proven correct. In a February 26th press conference, authorities announced they presumed Brandel and Hendry deceased based on investigation findings.

“It is presumed Ralph Hendry and Kathy Brendel are deceased,” said Junior Simmons of Saint Vincent’s Police Force. He cited evidence recovered from Simplicity that pointed to violence and a struggle.

For Brandel and Hendry’s heartbroken families, the confirmation of their likely deaths unleashed intense grief, outrage and a desperate need for answers.

Sons Share Memories and Anguish – February 27

Brandel’s son Nick Buro and Hendry’s son Bryan opened up about losing their parents in a February 27 Today Show interview, conveying both warm memories and profound anguish.

“Shock, despair, fear, sadness, hope, love—all of those emotions are going through our heads at the same time,” Buro shared.

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He said evidence of bloodshed on board Simplicity suggests “an altercation of violence took place on the boat.”

The sons vowed to celebrate Brandel and Hendry by remembering their zest for life. “Sailing, dancing and laughing with friends and family—that’s who Ralph and Kathy were, and that’s how they will be remembered in our hearts,” they said.

Yet they understand closure may prove difficult, with the full truth of their parents’ fate still unclear. Like investigators, the sons crave answers to why such a tragic crime occurred.

Ongoing Investigation – February 28

A week after Brandel and Hendry vanished, the search for definitive answers continues on multiple fronts.

Authorities are working to unwind the couple’s final days, interviewing the three suspects plus locals who interacted with either the victims or hijackers.

Investigators are also meticulously documenting and analyzing forensic details recovered from Simplicity. Photos, biological evidence and other crime scene clues could help decipher exactly what transpired on board the doomed vessel.

But even concrete confirmation of the couple’s murder may leave some questions forever unanswered. What sparked the life-taking violence? Did the victims know their attackers? Did the Felons encounter Brandel and Hendry by chance or purposely target them?

Authorities pursue every sliver of information that could explain the unfathomable fate of two beloved souls. But those closest to the American couple cling to the memories that truly define their lives—not the dark deeds of suspected killers.

Justice and closure remain elusive as the desperate search continues for two caring, adventurous spirits lost to vicious seas.

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Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee is a prolific author who provides commentary and analysis on business, finance, politics, sports, and current events on his website Opportuneist. With over a decade of experience in journalism and blogging, Mezhar aims to deliver well-researched insights and thought-provoking perspectives on important local and global issues in society.

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