Family speaks out as search intensifies for American couple missing in Caribbean


(ST. GEORGE’S, GRENADA) — A search is intensifying for an American couple who went missing in the Caribbean after three escaped prisoners allegedly used their boat to island hop.

Ralph Hendry and his wife, Kathy Brandel, from Falls Church, Virginia, disappeared from their yacht, which was docked in the waters off the southern Caribbean nation of Grenada, according to Hendry’s sister, Suellen Desmarais.

“It’s a phone call you hope you never get — shock, fear, anger,” Ralph Hendry’s son, Bryan Hendry, told ABC News.

Hendry and Brandel were last seen alive by their boating neighbor at the dock on Feb. 18, according to Desmarais. The neighbor said he saw the couple entering a restaurant, Desmarais said.

The next morning, the neighbor said the couple and their yacht, Simplicity, were gone.

Three escaped prisoners allegedly stole the boat before heading to the nearby island of St. Vincent, where they were arrested on Feb. 21, according to the Royal Grenada Police Force.

A good Samaritan discovered the abandoned yacht and “found evidence of apparent violence,” according to a sailing association affiliated with the couple.

Local authorities said they’re “working on leads that suggest that the two occupants of the yacht may have been killed.”

“We were informed pretty early that there were signs of an altercation on the vessel, so we knew from the beginning it wasn’t good,” Brandel’s son, Nick Buro, said.

Don McKenzie, police commissioner of the Royal Grenada Police Force, said at a news conference Monday that there’s no conclusive evidence that the couple is dead, and authorities are still holding out hope for the possibility that they’re alive.

“What I can say to the family is my condolences and we’re still hoping for a positive outcome,” he said. “We understand the stress that they are going through, and for that we really send out our support and out prayers.”

Ralph Hendry and Kathy Brandel have been married for 27 years. They’ve been living on their boat since they sold their home in 2013.

“They were very risk-averse people, so they were extremely meticulous in their preparations and not willing to take this trip until they were 100% confident in themselves,” Bryan Hendry said.

“We still have hope that they are alive and we can find them,” Buro said.

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