In July of last year, Perry Cohen and Austin Stephanos disappeared while out on a fishing trip in their 19-foot-long boat. The two 14-year-old boys left from Jupiter Inlet in Florida and looked to just have fun on the water for the afternoon. They were never seen again, and many believed that a big storm ended up causing them to go missing. Now, their boat has been found and some pictures, along with new evidence, seems to indicate foul play was a factor in their disappearance.
Just recently, crew members aboard the Edda Fjord, a Norwegian freighter, spotted the 19-foot Seacraft that belonged to Austin Stephanos. It was floating upside-down about 100 miles off the coast of Bermuda. It had been close to nine months since the boys went missing.
Their boat had been found days after their disappearance, but it was only weighted down and not totally anchored. It ended up disappearing again, and was just located back in March. People is reporting that the crew members of the Edda Fjord took pictures before storing the boat into a shipping container, and there is some disturbing evidence among them.
One of the most confusing is that of the boat’s battery switch and ignition key.
The switch and key, which are very hard to reach while at sea and especially in a storm, are both set to the off position.
Guy Rubin is the attorney for the Cohen family, and he states that this is a serious issue because the location of the battery switch makes it nearly impossible to be activated or deactivated by a storm or just time passing. He believes that it had to have been intentionally turned off by one of the boys or a third party that accessed the boat since their disappearance in July.
A lawsuit was filed on Monday by Pamela Cohen, the mother of Perry. A line from it indicates that foul play is suspected in her son’s disappearance.
“Plaintiff will continue to suffer irreparable harm if the iPhone is not properly handled as material evidence in a possible maritime crime or homicide.”
Rubin spoke with WPBF and said that they know “for sure that boat was disabled intentionally” due to the situation with the battery switch.
“If the storm came and capsized the boat, the battery switch and the key would not be in those positions. We want forensic experts in accident reconstruction to look at the boat and tell us what happened. I’m not trying to be an alarmist, but I’m also trying to take it from a scientific approach.”
Pamela Cohen did receive messages from her son Perry before he vanished, and the last message she ever received from him is quite heartbreaking. The Daily Mail reports that Perry had sent Pamela a message to let her know his iPad had no more battery power and that he would text her later and that he loved her.
She told him that she missed him and that she had wanted him to sleep home that night since they were to leave on Sunday for New York. She asked him about his work, and she sent one more message that cut off in the middle.
“but I was going to sleep at…”
It would be the last time that she would ever hear from her son. Hours later, the two 14-year-old boys left Jupiter Inlet in Florida for their ill-fated trip.
Those texts had been sent to Pamela Cohen from the iPhone of Austin Stephanos since Perry’s hadn’t been working that day. Austin’s iPhone was recovered from the boat found last month with water damage, but otherwise unharmed. Apple is working with the family to try and recover info from it.
— Tell It Like It Is! (@Jeres_Rant) April 26, 2016
Many are confused as to how the located boat seemed to have such little damage and appeared to be hardly disturbed. The iPhone has water damage, but nothing much else is done to it. A picture of the boy’s tackle boxes for fishing shows them hardly disturbed or even shaken up at all.
While the family may believe there is foul play involved here, the attorney for the Cohen family will not make any speculation based off the pictures. Guy Bennett Rubin spoke with People on Wednesday and let it be known that professionals are handling the situation and looking to find out as much as possible.
“We don’t have any specific details about how the boat was taken from the vessel that picked it up to the process when it was then documented with photographs and put into a cargo container for shipment back to Port Everglades. This is still yet to be determined. So, we are drawing some possible conclusions from the photographs with the caveat that we just don’t know enough to make any determinative statements. This is the nature of investigative work and why it needs to be done methodically, carefully and by professionals. There is a lot from the photographs that tell the story and I’m going to let the professionals tell us what they mean from their perspective.”
The Stephanos family is now in possession of the iPhone that belonged to Austin, and this is even with the lawsuit and motions for emergency injunctions in place by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FFWCC).
Pamela Cohen did say she would drop the lawsuit if the Stephanos family would give guaranteed consent for the FFWCC to hold onto the iPhone until the full forensics investigation could be concluded. That was not done and the Cohen family is now determining what to do next.
A hearing is scheduled in the lawsuit for the next Thursday.
The disappearance of Austin Stephanos and Perry Cohen launched an extensive hunt last year as countless people searched for the boys lost at sea. These new images from inside their found boat and the evidence seems to now point to something far more sinister. An investigation is still ongoing and authorities are looking to determine what may have happened to the boys and if foul play really was a factor.
[Image via Coast Guard]