The Unsolved Disappearance of Amy Lynn Bradley
Amy Lynn Bradley disappeared from a cruise ship in 1998, never to be seen again.
Amy Lynn Bradley was just 23-years-old and a recent college graduate. She was beginning to start her life, having recently secured a full-time job and getting her own apartment in Virginia. But before she fully began her new adult life, her parents Iva and Ron suggested that they go on one last family vacation before their two kids went off on their own.
The entire Bradley family soon headed out to sea on the cruise ship, Rhapsody of the Sea in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The ship had almost 2000 guests, with everything a vacationer could imagine. There was fine dining and entertainment, with pools and games and just about everything that would make a vacation perfect.
But for the Bradley family, the trip would bring nothing but chaos.
From the beginning, Amy was extremely apprehensive about going on the boat. Even though she was a strong swimmer, she always feared going out into the open ocean. There was something about the trip that felt wrong to her. But because of her family, she went anyway.
For the first two days of their trip, everything was perfect. The Bradley’s spent their days by the pool, dancing, and just spending time with each other as they traveled across the sea.
But the night of their second day, things took a turn for the worst.
The night of March 24, 1998, the Bradley family went to the fancy nightly dinner, where Amy and her brother Brad got a photo taken together. Afterward, they would go back to their shared room and get changed into more casual clothing. From there, the whole family went to the upper deck for a party. There was dancing and drinking but at around 1 a.m., Iva and Ron decided that it was time for them to head back to the room.
After their parents left, Brad and Amy decided to go down to the ship’s nightclub, where most of the young people on the ship met up. The siblings separated at this point, with Brad meeting up with some girls he had met earlier. Amy, on the other hand, only seemed to hang around Alister Douglas, the bass player for the ship’s band.
A few hours later, both Amy and Brad would safely return to their cabin. The two would spend some time talking out on the balcony before Brad decided to go to bed, leaving Amy by herself.
Sometime before sunrise, Amy’s dad would wake up to find Amy still sitting outside. Because of this, he assumed that Amy was safely back from the club and everything was okay. After a couple of minutes, he soon fell back to sleep.
It’s unknown how long Ron was asleep before he was startled awake at around 6 a.m. He once again checked the balcony, but this time, Amy was no longer there. So he went to check his kids’ bedroom, where he found Brad, but there was no sign of Amy. Her shoes were still in the room, but her cigarettes and lighter were both missing.
Although he wasn’t worried at first, Ron left to go search the boat for his daughter. Because there were no cell phones, all he could do was walk around and hope for the best. But after walking circles around the boat and finding no sign of his daughter, Ron went to the head of security and reported Amy missing. He then went back to the room, woke up his family, and they all returned to searching.
The family asked the cruise to make an announcement about Amy, but because she wasn’t a child, ship officials refused the request. They were too scared of panicking the other passengers.
While the search for Amy continued, the ship docked in Curacao. Soon, everyone on the ship would be heading onto the land. There would be no questioning or preserving crime scenes, as they were about to lose complete control of the situation. They begged officials to not let passengers off the cruise before they found Amy, but again, they refused.
When the thousands of passengers left the ship, cruise officials agreed to do a formal search of the boat, but there was still no sign of Amy. The Bradley family was forced to make a difficult decision. Do they stay on the ship? Or do they disembark and hope that Amy had somehow gotten off?
The Bradley family decided to get off the boat and head to the local American embassy for help.
At first, it seemed as if it would be a simple search. Amy was last seen on the balcony, so there was a high probability that she had fallen overboard. But the issue was that no one could pinpoint the exact time Amy went missing. It’s known that she wasn’t in her room at 6 a.m., but there was always the chance that she had gone somewhere to smoke and had fallen over there.
The Coast Guard brought in helicopters and boats to aid in the search, but nothing was found. This led to the FBI suspecting other possibilities, such as something happening to Amy on the ship or someone taking her off. But because there wasn’t a thorough search done, there was no telling what evidence had been left behind on the ship.
They needed to get back on the boat.
The Bradley family and the FBI flew to St. Thomas to meet the cruise ship at the next scheduled stop. The FBI finally got to conduct their own search, which led to a vague outline of Amy’s final moments. A crew member had come forward with a promotional video he filmed for the cruise line that showed footage of Amy dancing in the nightclub.
Amy wasn’t alone in the video.
Dancing with her was Alacer Douglas, the bass player that was seen with her that night. Witnesses state that they had seen Amy dancing with him all night. At some point in the footage, they are shown holding hands. It wasn’t until 3:30 a.m. that Amy was shown alone near the elevator, seemingly headed back to her room.
Investigators brought Alacer Douglas in for questioning and a polygraph. In his statement, Douglas claimed that he had a drink with Amy at the nightclub at around 1 a.m. before he took the staff elevators back to his room.
Because of the video, the FBI knew that was a lie. The footage showed Douglas dancing with Amy until around three in the morning.
When Brad discovered that Douglas was being looked at in suspicion, he told police of a strange occurrence that happened the morning Amy went missing. Even before any announcement had been made to the ship’s crew, Douglas went up to Brad and told him that he was sorry to hear about Amy’s disappearance. There was no reason for him to know what happened, but Douglas would claim that he had heard about the missing girl from a fellow staff member at around 6 a.m. But at that time, the only one who knew Amy was missing was her dad.
And then there was the pictures that the family had taken before dinner.
On cruise ships, it’s a common occurrence for a professional photographer to take pictures of guests and print the picture out for them to buy. But after dinner, when the Bradley family went to search for their photos, they found that every single picture with Amy in it was gone.
Someone had taken them.
But no matter how much they searched or how many stories they heard, the FBI never had enough information to determine what happened to Amy. The ship docked and everyone went back to their normal lives.
Everyone except the Bradley family. Their daughter and sister was still missing.
A month went by and the Bradley family returns to their home in Virginia. They make a website and attempted to get news attention focused on the case, but it was no use. No new information came forward.
That was until America’s Most Wanted featured Amy’s case on one of its episodes. After the episode aired, a man called in and claimed that five months after Amy went missing, he was in Curacao and saw a girl who looked just like her walking down the beach. She was said to be with two tough-looking men who intervened when she tried to interact with the caller. Authorities were skeptical of this claim until the man went on to describe Amy’s tattoos. A gecko on her stomach, one on her ankle, and a Tasmanian devil on her shoulder blade.
The FBI sent out officers to look for her, but since the call came in eight months after the occurrence, nothing was found.
In August of 1999, the Bradley family hired a private investigator to work on the case. But the investigator ended up being a fraud, which led to the family being scammed for over $100,000. The investigator was eventually prosecuted for fraud and paid them back, but it did nothing to bring back the time they had lost working on the case.
There were no new leads in the case until May 2002 when a member of the Navy reported that a young woman had come up to him in a Curacao brothel, begging for his help. She told him that her name was Amy Lynn Bradley. Unfortunately, the man had never heard of the case. It took him years to report the incident because he feared repercussions, and by the time he did, the brothel had been burned to the ground.
It was too late.
Another potential sighting occurred in 2005 when a witness claimed to have seen Amy in a Barbados department store restroom. She said that a woman had entered the restroom with a few men, who had threatened the girl if she didn’t follow through on a ‘deal.’ After the men left, the witness went up to the woman and asked if she was okay. The woman told her that her name was Amy and that she had been taken by the men. A composite sketch of the woman was made, but it brought no new leads.
The most disturbing lead in the case came in 2005 when the Bradley family received photos of an online advertisement for sex workers. The woman in the picture looked exactly like Amy. The family sent the photos to a member of the FBI, who claimed that he was almost positive that the girl in the photo was their daughter, but they were unable to track the photos back to anyone.
It’s been fifteen years since the photos were found, but there have been no solid leads since then. The prevailing theory on the case is that Amy fell off the balcony and into the ocean, never to be found again. Another popular belief is that she was sold into sex trafficking after being drugged by Douglas that night at the club.
The Bradley family continues to search for Amy every day, just hoping that one day, their daughter and sister will finally return home.
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Resources for this article include Allthatsinteresting.com and CNN.