A woman disappears after saying she’s going on a round-the-world sailing trip with her new boyfriend.

Colleen Wood

Missing:

Gender: Female
DOB: 12/2/47
Height: 5’0”
Weight: 115 to 120 lbs.
Eyes: Brown
Hair: Gray and/or blonde
Remarks: Last seen 12/28/00

CASE DETAILS

Colleen planned to sail around the world

When Colleen Wood moved from Dayton, Ohio, to Boca Raton, Florida, it was the culmination of a lifelong dream. Then Colleen met a former racecar driver and Wall Street investor named John Paul. After a whirlwind romance, Colleen vanished without a trace. She’s never been seen or heard from again. Her son, Michael Tandarich, recalls what his mother had told him about John Paul:

“My mother met John Paul through a personal ad, looking for a sailing companion. And she was impressed with his credentials. He said he had an MBA from Harvard, and in the racing circuit, he was fairly famous. And he was also reputed to be wealthy due to his success in the ownership of a mutual fund company.”

John Paul and Colleen Wood

Colleen and John fell madly in love. They were inseparable. They soon made plans to sail around the world on John’s 55-foot schooner the Island Girl. Colleen sold her condo and gave the profit to John to invest: $43,000. She moved in with him aboard the Island Girl, and then quit her job. Maureen Canada, owner of the Lighthouse Point Marina, was Colleen’s boss:

“I was very, very shocked when Colleen told me that she was leaving. I personally was very concerned about her selling all of her assets to take this trip.”

On December 3, 2000, Colleen placed a call to her son in Ohio. She told Mike that the Island Girl was setting sail in a few weeks and that she would be in touch soon. According to Maureen Canada, she spoke to Colleen about 10 days later to invite her to the office Christmas party:

“I called her cell phone number and she happened to be in Key West, at a bar with John Paul. She sounded fine. She sounded like she was having a good time.”

According to Maureen, Colleen told her that she would definitely attend the party:

“Tuesday, the party came and went, and she didn’t show up. But I just assumed that something happened, possibly rough seas, and they couldn’t make it back on the boat.”

Colleen’s son also hadn’t heard from his mother:

“She didn’t call us for Christmas, Christmas Eve. And after New Years, everyone was really worried. Friends and family were asking, ‘Haven’t you heard?’ Because we know she would have called. I tried to call her on her cell phone and the account had been closed.”

Colleen lived aboard John’s boat

Michael immediately contacted the police in Florida, but there was no evidence of any crime. Days turned into weeks and then months. Still, there was no sign of Colleen Wood.

Michael Tandarich tried to track down possible sightings of the Island Girl:

“We spent the best part of January and February calling back and forth with the Coast Guard and the FCC, just trying to in some way identify and locate this boat.”

Who took $40,000 from Colleen’s account?

Michael searched the internet hoping to find an address or maybe a phone number for John Paul. What he discovered frightened him:

“I ran across an article that said that he had served time in prison. That he went to a federal penitentiary for approximately 15 years, serving time for attempted murder. I’m still thinking they’re on a boat, but I’m thinking she’s on a boat with a killer or a possible killer.”

Michael learned that Colleen’s boyfriend was the mastermind behind a drug smuggling ring in the early 80s, and that he had tried to kill his partners in crime. Colleen met John Paul less than a year after he was paroled.

Colleen’s family and friends were certain she knew nothing about John Paul’s past. Asked about her disappearance, John would eventually give three different accounts of his relationship with Colleen, which he says ended on the rocks.

Colleen’s son, Michael, was able to track down John Paul’s daughter. She told Michael that her father said that Colleen had become upset over an incident involving one of John Paul’s old girlfriends and that she had been the one to end the relationship. The news only further fueled Michael’s fears:

“When I heard that she’d broken up in December, I was panicked, completely panicked.”

Three days later, John Paul called Michael with a second version of the story:

“He told me that they had an argument. He said he didn’t remember what it was about. But after the argument, she left the boat. And then she came back with her “football player boyfriend,” she gathered all of her belongings and she left the boat and he hasn’t seen her since. I filed a missing persons report immediately with the Fort Lauderdale Police Department.”

Four months after Colleen was last heard from, investigators from the Fort Lauderdale Police Department turned up some suspicious activity on her credit cards. According to Det. Mark Shotwell:

“In a two-month period between mid-December to mid-February, in excess of 80 transactions– cash advancements– totaling over $40,000, had occurred on Colleen Wood’s cards. We were able to come up with good, solid physical evidence that not only did Colleen Wood not make any of the transactions, they were not made with her consent.”

If it wasn’t Colleen withdrawing cash from the ATMs, who was? The police were still investigating and will only say it was a woman, perhaps more than one.

Also raising suspicions were two ads that appeared in a local newspaper. According to Det. Shotwell, they were purchased with Colleen’s credit card:

“Both of the ads were ordered by a male. The first ad that ran in early December was in the help wanted section, looking for a first mate on a boat. The second ad that ran mid-December was in the romance male-seeking-female section.”

Had the ads been placed by John Paul? Detectives weren’t sure. They only knew that the second ad began running on December 16, 2000, about the same time Maureen Canada spoke to Colleen by phone. According to Maureen, Colleen told her then that she was partying with John in Key West and that everything was fine.

Police finally tracked down John Paul and according to Det. Shotwell, he said he had no idea where Colleen was and offered a third version of the breakup:

“John Paul said that in mid-December he and Colleen had a large fight over money. That Colleen Wood owed him money and had made no effort to repay it.”

But the alleged inconsistencies weren’t all that troubled the Det. Shotwell:

“My partner and I both noticed that he was becoming increasingly more nervous. I found it unusual that he seemed to have so little concern over a woman that he lived with, that he loved. Just a very unusual interview. Very little compassion showed on his part.”

Despite the allegations, suspicious behavior, and the inconsistent stories, there is no solid evidence to indicate Paul had anything to do with Colleen’s disappearance. In fact, John Paul may have no knowledge whatsoever about the mystery. According to Det. Shotwell, he has not been named a suspect in the case:

“We have no body, no physical evidence to show us what happened to Colleen, but I can tell you it’s not good. I don’t believe Colleen Wood is with us anymore.”

Meanwhile, Michael awaits word on what happened to his mother:

“We need to find out what happened. We need to know if indeed he’s responsible for the death of my mother. I really want to see justice served.”

John Paul has apparently left town, violating the terms of his parole. Detectives would like to find him to question him again about the disappearance of Colleen Wood.

If you have been in recent contact with John Paul, or knows his current location, please contact Det. Shotwell at 954-828-5517 or mshotwell@fortlauderdale.gov


Watch this case now on Amazon Prime in season twelve with Robert Stack and in season two with Dennis Farina. Also available on YouTube with Dennis Farina. Various seasons available now on Hulu.

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35 Comments

  1. Karen

    She was ridiculous to not look into this scam artist. And her boys and friends didn’t see any red flags? Good grief!

    Reply

  2. Ash Paladium

    Dumb police, just dumb. Doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that he dumped her body in the ocean. He is a former buttslammer /inmate and knows that with no body the police have no proof. The perfect crime.The police know that he withdrew all her money. If that’s not admission of something then I don’t know what is. It’s probably what it usually is, lazy police work. This guy has probably ly done this many times but this is the first where the family actually followed up. This scumbag loser has probably killed many women. If I was her son I would find this parasite and “make” him talk. Wouldn’t be hard. Just rent a warehouse and show him the lovely interior, in 3-D. You will get your answers. The U.S. doesn’t allow their police to use force to get answers. Ridiculous.

    Reply

  3. Anonymous

    What a creep, you know he did something to her ,

    Reply

  4. Trina

    I had a dream this morning. And in part of it this woman was driving with a small dog in her lap. She was crying and looked to be upset about a romantic relationship. She turned off into a gas station convenience store and turned around and kept driving along side me. I began to pray for her. I turned left and she went straight. I woke up and about 30 seconds later I heard the name Colleen wood in my head. I Google the name and it shows that she is missing.

    Reply

  5. Indy

    Interesting thing to point out here, 99% sure about this. There is a John Paul Jr. who was an Indycar driver. raced for a number of years and drove in the Indy 500.

    He also went to prison for 5 years for being involved in selling drugs, got into the drug trade at the age of 15.

    I think he dad was this John Paul Sr. featured in this story.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Paul_Jr._(racing_driver)

    Reply

  6. Jordan

    How awful this story is..
    I can’t imagine the horror this kind woman must of endured just being so far out at sea with this psycho. I believe personally that he robbed her blind, bludgeoned her and threw her overboard . That would be my first guess, because the open ocean is so broad there is no way anyone would be able to find her remains or anything. That is just so terrible I hate that the nice woman with a family got caught up with the wrong man from hell. Someone needs to find his ass and just drop him off in the middle of the ocean and don’t look back,, let him experience the same terror that Colleen did.

    Reply

    • Lisa Gandolfo

      He most likely did the same thing to his former wife, Chalice Paul. He most likely put an anchor around them and tossed them overboard in deep waters so they can be “shark bait” just like the former lawyer, who is deceased now, Don Reuben told me when he investigated John Paul Sr. for being a possible bigamist after Chalice went missing. As John Paul Sr. married Hope Haywood Reuben Paul (his stepdaughter) just a year later after Chalice went missing. She is the sister of another legend Porsche race car driver, Hurley Haywood. Mr. Reuben told me over the phone, that he found out John Paul Sr. got a divorce from Haiti as you don’t need your spouse present to do so and after all Chalice was probably “shark bait.” Nice huh? A damn lawyer knew there was most likely fowl play but did nothing about it along with the rest of the Haywood’s
      and lot’s of people in the racing circuit back then too.
      ]

      Reply

  7. Tiffany

    Women need to be so cautious. I, too, believe this scam was all set in motion when he placed the ad. He needed her money so he convinced her to sell all of her worldly belongings. And convinced her that he would handle the money. No no ladies — do not let anyone talk you in to things that don’t feel right. My sincere sympathies go out to her family. The police are not stupid. I’m sure they did all they could do at the time within the law.

    Reply

  8. retired2

    The allure to her was the money, you need to look up these scammers and see what they are all about! I’d rather be poor then murdered. She looked like a lovely lady RIP Coleen.

    Reply

  9. Retired1

    Why these women need a man with $ is beyond me. He is guilty!!!RIP Coleen.

    Reply

  10. Gotzon

    Los detectives unos negligentes. Le podían haber detenido por saltarse la libertad condicional en un primer momento por viajar por el mundo sin tener permiso para hacerlo. Y luego detenerle por robo de tarjeta de crédito , de sacar dinero de otra persona que estaba desaparecida y no era matrimonio . ni tenia derechos sobre el dinero de ella.
    Ella bastante tonta para vender la casa y todo e irse con alguien desconocido.
    La policia y los jueces si hubiera sido la desparecida una familiar de ellos seguro que habrían detenido a John Lee Paul. La justicia no es igual para todos.

    Reply

  11. Riverfairy

    I totally agree that the police had enough circumstantial evidence with the debit/credit card scam. He was identified by the two women that actually used her cards. He gave them 10 percent. I would love to know if he is still alive. He has probably done this many times.

    Reply

  12. Eb

    John Paul is so guilty of this. I just can’t believe hes escaped punishment for what has happened to Colleen. I believe that he threw her body over board. Which would make it next to impossible to find her. I’m sure John himself couldn’t even tell police exactly where he dropped her body at in the water. What a monster. I Cant believe he’s freely out and about enjoying life.

    Reply

  13. Lisa Gandolfo

    John Paul Sr is a psychopath who premeditated both disappearances, Chalice Paul, former wife and Colleen Wood. I was best friends with Chalice before she went missing and know he coaxed her into believing they were getting back together as they were separated when I met Chalice in Palm Beach. Chalice flew to South Florida from Atlanta to go sailing with him to Key West. She never returned home to Atlanta. John Paul Sr told me himself he “left” Chalice in Key West. She was going for just a week to reunite with him then fly back to Atlanta to be in Burt Reynolds film Sharkies Machine. She never would of missed that opportunity.

    Reply

  14. Police 42

    I believe Colleen booked a cruise with the devil.

    Reply

  15. natt

    Women should really be cautious in this day and time because there are way to many con artists out there operating,I hope her family will find peace from all this.

    Reply

  16. Bob Brooks

    I was dating this Nice lady shortly before she met this guy. She was totally bamboozled!!!!

    Reply

  17. Linda

    I hope her boys find peace and Colleen can rest knowing how much she is loved by her friends and family. This is so sad.

    Reply

  18. KarmaCycle

    There were so many missteps in this investigation.. After meeting with him, it took to a week to “find out” there was a parol violation, and then they blame the delay on the Feds? Right. Of course the guy is going to take off with the boat that potentially holds physical evidence of a crime, now that they’ve tipped him off. But, no, he’s not a suspect.
    Her family was completely screwed over by these bumbling idiots.

    Reply

  19. gary

    Just wow! Florida police are idiots!

    Reply

  20. Anonymous

    There is so much stacked against this guy. He is a lier and hustler. He scams his way through life. That poor lady didn’t see it coming. He lurked her under false pretenses. Convincing enough for her to give up her condo and leave her job. Take a trip on a boat away from family and friends. This guy knew what he was doing. He wanted her money. 40,000 plus the extra 43,000 she gave him to invest in that boat she moved on. Sick man. He used her; lied to her; and throw her away. Even though there Is no physical evidence he killed her. It doesn’t take an expert to put two and two together. This is so unsettling. He planned this whole thing way before he met her. By placing an ad in the paper. That’s his MO. With everything uncovered from this guy. The cops or investigators should have went under cover and answered one of this guys ad’s in the paper and followed up on those leads. He skipped his parole that alone would be enough to arrest him and get this guy off the streets. He is a predator. How many times has he done this and continue to do this.. I feel real bad for her friends and family .I feel bad for anyone he crossed paths with. Karama will not have mercy on this man.

    Reply

  21. Chad F

    I feel they need to track the boat they were on when she went missing and go all over it with Forensics, I would say there may be plenty of evidence on there waiting to be unearthed. I do hope her killer is brought to justice what a true coward. And to think he has he’s own Wikipedia page…. that’s a disgrace in itself foresure, sickening it is. Bring Colleen home.

    Reply

  22. Bob

    Why is it so obvious to everyone, except he legal authorities that John Paul is responsible for Colleen’s disappearance? As a former Trooper of the Pennsylvania State Police, I am well aware that because there is no physical evidence that John Paul had anything to do with her missing, there is plenty of circumstantial. Using the circumstantial evidence that has been accumulated would at the very least get an indictment from a Grand Jury for possible kidnapping and murder charges. The fact that John Paul illegally used Colleen’s debit/credit cards to obtain cash is very suspicious and incriminating.

    At this point, why not arrest it, charge him and take him to court. What do they have to lose? He is old now and will soon die. After that, any evidence that may be found can be used to charge him and perhaps get a conviction and have him sentenced under the guilty in absentia law. But, in my opinion, I think there best shot is to go for it now.

    Reply

    • Patty

      I agree with you. It is a little too obvious that this man is a liar. I hope Coleen is found and closure can be given to the family, one way or another.

      Reply

  23. ms robinson

    ive seen this women last week, she lives close by, i left message for detective

    Reply

  24. rebareeves

    He’s in St croix! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! But nobody has investigated it. His boat is literally docked in the harbor there!!!!! Tried to find info for detective shotwell.

    Reply

  25. Deandra

    John Paul definitely killed this woman and got away with her body and her money. he will live the rest of his life with no remorse and her family with no mother. I am sadden by this news and that our legal system cant help this family due to a clean missing persons case.

    Reply

  26. Chalice Paul Missing Person

    John Paul Sr. is responsible for probably several murders. He is responsible for Chalice Paul’s disappearance in 1981. Got to http://www.chalicepaul.com to read the whole story.

    Reply