Prison Escapees Are Charged With Murder of American Couple in Grenada

Prison Escapees Are Charged With Murder of American Couple in Grenada

Three men who had escaped from a prison in Grenada and were accused of hijacking an American couple’s yacht to flee have been charged with their murder, the police said on Thursday.

The couple, Ralph Hendry, 66, and Kathy Brandel, 71, went missing while sailing off the coast of Grenada. They had been spending the winter cruising in the Caribbean in their catamaran called Simplicity, which was found abandoned in neighboring St. Vincent and the Grenadines on Feb. 21.

There was no indication in the latest police statement that the bodies of the couple had been recovered as of Thursday.

Trevon Robertson, 23; Atiba Stanisclaus, 25; and Ron Mitchell, 30, face two counts of “capital murder by intentionally causing the death of Ralph Hendry and Kathleen Brandel,” the Royal Grenada Police Force said.

The authorities from police forces in Grenada and St. Vincent and the Grenadines have given different ages and name spellings for the escapees.

The men were also charged with escaping lawful custody, housebreaking, robbery and two counts of kidnapping; Mr. Stanislaus is also facing a rape charge, the police said, but no details were offered on those accusations. The three men made their first court appearance on Thursday, and are due back on March 27. The Royal Grenada Police Force did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The police had said in a statement released on Feb. 22 that three men who escaped from a prison in Grenada on Feb. 18 and made their way to St. Vincent using a yacht that had been docked in the St. George area of Grenada.

The prisoners were recaptured on Feb. 21, the same day that the couple’s yacht was found. At the time, the police said they were “currently working on leads that suggest that the two occupants of the yacht may have been killed in the process.”

At a news conference on Feb. 26, Commissioner Don McKenzie of the Royal Grenada Police Force that “information suggests that, while traveling between Grenada and St. Vincent, they disposed of the occupants.”

During a Feb. 26 news conference, Junior Simmons, superintendent of the Royal St. Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force, said the joint investigation into the disappearance with Grenada police was ongoing, and he said the couple was presumed dead.

The investigation revealed that while sailing from Grenada, “the suspects committed several criminal acts including bodily harm to the couple,” he said.

The couple, who were married for 27 years, were “veteran cruisers,” according to the Salty Dawg Sailing Association, a nonprofit that brings together a community of sailors engaged in long-distance cruising on their boats. The couple were longtime members, the organization said in a statement, and “they both contributed to building the S.D.S.A.”

In a joint family statement posted on the association’s website on Feb. 27, Nick Buro, the son of Ms. Brandel, and Bryan Hendry, the son of Mr. Hendry, said that “if we have learned anything from this tragic event, it’s that we know they left this world in a better place than it was before they were born.”

“Ralph and Kathy lived a life that most of us can only dream of,” the message said. “Sailing the eastern coast of the United States, living on their home Simplicity, making friends with everyone they encountered, singing, 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.”

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Bruce Killigang

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