A Heart-Breaking Story of a Girl Found Alone in the Ocean
It’s 1961, and Dr. Arthur Duperrault decided to take his family of five on a long-awaited vacation to the Bahamas. And the trip was going perfectly: sailing across the sunny seas, swimming in the ocean, bathing in the sun. Five days of maritime paradise. Kids laughing, adults smiling, everyone was happy… or so it seemed.
The events that followed are fit to make your hair stand on end. Even now, more than fifty years later, it’s hard for Terry Jo to speak of what happened on the fifth night, and you really can’t blame her… Lost, famished, scared, and drifting alone in the open sea for almost 4 days on a tiny raft. And all that when she was just 11 years old.
– The then 11-year-old girl was awakened by a commotion from above her cabin. She heard stomping on the deck and recognized the voices. Still uncomprehending, Terry Jo asked him what was happening, but his only reply was an order to get back below the deck.
– It turned out that Harvey had opened up the yacht’s sea valves to sink it with everyone on board. There wouldn’t be any radio calls for help or a joint effort to keep the ship from sinking – crazed Harvey had taken care of that possibility.
– When he left her for a brief second, what the girl did next would end up saving her life in that moment: she let go of the rope, and the dinghy started floating away from the yacht.
– But the 11-year-old girl still had more surviving to do. For the next 3½ days, she floated aimlessly on the little cork raft that was becoming flimsier and more deteriorated with each passing day.
– That was how a Greek freighter called Captain Theo found the little girl, and the ship’s crew just couldn’t believe their eyes when they spotted her.
– As it turned out, the whole thing started with Julian Harvey wanting to collect a $20,000 life insurance policy he’d drawn for his wife of just four months. It struck him as very convenient that she should drown in the ocean in an “accident.”
– His plan, however, was thwarted when the Duperraults heard the commotion. That’s when Harvey decided to get rid of any witnesses on board and sink the boat to conceal the evidence.
– His dinghy had been found 3 days earlier than Terry Jo’s raft. Another freighter, the Gulf Lion, picked Harvey up and gave him to the US Coast Guard. He told the investigators that the Bluebelle’s masts had been broken by strong winds in the open sea.
– After a few days, however, he heard the news of Terry Jo’s miraculous rescue. He decided he wouldn’t let them get him alive, so he checked into a motel room and ended it there.
– The peak of her recovery was a book she wrote with the help of psychologist Dr. Richard Logan called Alone: Orphaned on the Ocean. It was published in 2010, almost 50 years after the events it describes, but it still chills the souls of everyone who reads it.