A freighter disappears with nine people on board after leaving Miami for Haiti.

A caucasian woman with short blonde hair and a blue sweater, Lisa Bishop.

Lisa Bishop


Height: 5’2”
Eyes: Brown
Hair: Brown


A caucasian woman with long blonde hair and a light jacket on, Florian Bourch.

Florian Bourch befriended Lisa


Gender: Male
Height: 6’2”
Eyes: Blue
Hair: Blonde


Three people standing on a dock infront of a freighter. The word 'Freedon' is painted on the bow of the ship.

The Freedom never made it to Haiti

In January, 1989, Falcon jets from the United States Coast Guard searched the Old Bahama Channel in the Caribbean for an 82-foot freighter called the Freedon. The ship was on its way to Haiti but had been reported missing. On board were seven Haitian crewmembers, a young sea captain, and a 23-year old American journalism student named Lisa Bishop. Lisa’s mother, Linda Bishop, said that Lisa had called her to say goodbye on the morning of her departure:

“I could feel something was wrong. Mother’s intuition, I guess you could call it. Lisa was to call me when she arrived. And that call never came.”

Lisa wanted to write an article about the contrasts between the wealth of America and the economic devastation of Haiti. Her voyage on the Freedon was the chance of a lifetime, even though it meant leaving behind her boyfriend of three years, Paul Cornwell:

“We had a long discussion the night before she left, that she had to make her own decisions in life, that I couldn’t follow her and take care of her wherever she went.”

Somewhere between Miami and Haiti, the Freedon simply vanished. No one has any idea what happened or why. People have suggested everything from pirates, to smugglers, and even the mysterious Bermuda Triangle.

A man in a green and orange diving suit is standing on the dock up the Freedon freighter.

A witness claimed he saw the missing ship

Lisa’s voyage began when she met a 28-year old German national named Florian Meyer Bourch at a nightclub owned by her boyfriend. Florian was a marine mechanic and sea captain who had sailed throughout the Caribbean. According to Linda Bishop:

“From what I’ve learned about him, Florian is a drifter, and he sponges off of people. Freeloads.”

A year after their first meeting, Florian told Lisa of an upcoming voyage from Miami to Haiti. He invited her to join him. Paul was upset when Lisa told him that she planned to sail to Haiti with Florian:

“I didn’t trust him with Lisa. Of course, I was concerned about Florian, you know, being a young guy. And she tried to tell me there was nothing to worry about, there was nothing romantic. I tried to discourage her as her parents tried to discourage her from going.”

Lisa’s father, Bill Bishop, said there was no talking Lisa out of it:

“I expressed my feelings about it, that I didn’t want her to go or anything, and Lisa was a very headstrong girl when she made up her mind to do something.”

On the morning of December 17 th , 1988, at 2:30 in the afternoon, tugboats eased the Freedon through the Miami River on its way out to sea. The Freedon’s planned route would take the ship 600 miles past the coast of Cuba to Gonaives, a small port on the western coast of Haiti. There were no storms and no distress calls, but the Freedon never arrived. When Lisa didn’t call on Christmas Day, her family became concerned. Lt. Cdr. Jeff Karonis was with the U.S. Coast Guard:

“The relatives of the people on board kept calling us, asking us for information. We kept in touch with the port authorities in the various ports in the Caribbean area, and likewise, down in Haiti. We sent several search and rescue flights in the most commonly traveled areas in the Old Bahama Channel, which is the area between the United States and Haiti. Still, it was unsuccessful.”

Linda Bishop and her husband traveled to Miami:

“We came to Miami hoping to maybe get some answers from some of Florian’s friends or just find anything we could. We were desperate.”

he Freedon docked and several people walking past it on the dock.

An actual photo of the Freedon

Finally, Lisa’s parents received a promising lead. An underwater salvager named Bob Nyberg said that he had seen the ship two weeks after it was supposed to have disappeared:

“I remembered that while I was working in Grand Cayman in January of that year, there’d been a boat that came in. We were working underwater, directly in the harbor area where the ships pulled up and tied up. When I heard the ship coming in, we came up, and as I was coming out of the water, we looked back and noticed that the name was Freedon. F-R-E-E-D-O-N. And I made a statement to my friend, that those guys need their freedom, they can’t even spell the word. They were there for some time that afternoon. The next morning the boat was gone.”

Nyberg saw the Freedon in Georgetown Harbor on Grand Cayman Island, over 500 miles from Haiti. It was the kind of news Linda Bishop had been hoping for:

“The fact that the ship was spotted, and that it had not gone down, brought me hope that Lisa was alive and had to be held against her will in order for her not to contact us.”

The Freedon was supposed to dock at Haiti

Lisa’s boyfriend, Paul Cornwell, and Bob Nyberg went to Grand Cayman to pursue the lead. They met a number of witnesses who claimed to have seen Florian around the same time that Nyberg spotted the Freedon. Apparently, Florian was not alone during his mysterious visit to Grand Cayman. Some saw him with a short man with black hair.

Paul returned to Atlanta and questioned a woman who had been storing Florian’s personal belongings. There he found a picture of the man seen with Florian in Grand Cayman. The woman said his name was Phillipe. Paul later found out that it was actually Phillipe who had chartered the Freedon.

“The girl told me that he mentioned that he was involved in a large scale smuggling thing, and that something had gone wrong, and that they had gotten involved in something too deep that Lisa didn’t know about and couldn’t handle it. I feel that if Florian is out there, eventually, I’ll find out about it, and I’ll locate him.”

Authorities believe that Florian Meyer Bourch is the key to the Freedon’s disappearance.

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




  1. The Sleuth

    Sounds like the guy Felipe, Florian, or whatever his real name is, was into smuggling. Lisa Bishop was most likely sold into white slavery. Florian has since been killed or “disappeared” by his “clients”. The ship was sunk or renamed.


  2. Suzanne

    Just watched the episode of Unsolved Mysteries, very interesting.
    I assumed by now the boat and drew would have been found.
    Very sad.


  3. Brian

    Really when people say they saw the ship are they sure they saw the freedon recently. Are they sure their not referring to the boat featured in the video clips on the show? Becuase that would be a different boat.


  4. Sam Sloane

    What was the ship carrying when it left Miami?


  5. Mike

    Since its a fact this ship did not sink then Lisa Bishop who was gorgeous was probably abducted and forced into prostitution. She would be 55 today so she sadly is probably passed on.


  6. Tom joyce

    1997 I’m sure i unloaded it but it was named baraboo. In the port of palm beach. I remember only for 2 reasons . The captain with long blond hair know custom papers. And one odd looking boat.


  7. jackjaka

    why not get back to paul? i was told he is stilllooking for her… i do blieve he has another buisness now in atlanta.
    I also know that a woman, back in 1991 or so, claimed to have said to UM that she met an knew FILIPE. She told she had a case with this perosn and that he was arrested somewhere in Asia due to drugs smuggling. He emanaged to get away and wa snever caught again.
    This was told to this woman in Bangkok.I would like to see the picture of his shad guy philipe and the names of the crew memebrs. Can someone get in touch with any policedepartner or ask around the state of the case? i may try to ask someone around here in Asia… why dont get back to this? Paul is believed to be innocent and probabily is BUT, why not re open the case and talk to him again? make him some more questions. Ask for the identities of the others to be mentioned.

    attached, the person’s comment. CAan someone try to reach her?

    Rosalie Townsend
    October 17th, 2016 at 11:11

    A lady I met in Bangkok, 3/1991, deceased in 2008, was also involved when the Freedon was docked in Perth. She jumped ship as it pulled out, this was approx. Feb. 1991. I met her in Bangkok and she went on to Singapore. Ship was carrying weapons and coast guard held ship from leaving Perth for several days. She later told me that the ship was found in the pacific just west of San Francisco, Phillipe jumped ship but coast guard got him and case was to go to trial in San Francisco. Phillipe had charmed her and was at one time staying in her home for a short time in Taos, N.M. By this time I’m sure everything about the case is documented and updated. Last I heard from Helen was around 2005. I’m surprised the family of missing girl doesn’t have all this information. I reported all to Unsolved Mysteries shortly after arriving back in Ca. late March 1991

    attached, is the comment. I tried to contact paul last week but till now, no reply. What if we use social media and get back on this one. Are her parents still alive?


  8. Jason

    The ocean is the wild, wild West. I’m sorry this happened and I hope the friends and families find peace.


  9. AnonymousKY

    It definitely did not sink. I worked in the Georgetown Harbour, Grand Cayman from Dec 2006 and had seen it there as late as 2015 when I left the island. It was a regular sight to be seen tied up there. The name was painted over though but you could never forget a boat in that condition with that big of a spelling mistake (not for a spelling Nazi anyways).


  10. Paul

    One of the people on this thread stated that the FREEDON is now called the FREELIAINT. Has this been investigated? One woman also indicated that she has seen the FREEDON whilst conducting tours. Was this reported? Did anything come of it? Don’t forget Lisa. Don’t forget those crew members. Don’t forget Florian.


  11. Anonymous

    Apparently, the other men haven’t been seen or heard from either. Florian’s parents haven’t heard from him either. So the Freedon may have sank.


  12. Emilia Dapena

    I saw the freedon cargo boat while working as a tour guide in Miami River and Biscayne Bay boat tours about 2years ago


  13. thinkingoutloud

    i agree, there was definitely something more to Lisa’s and Florian’s friendship. She gave up her relationship of 3 years with her BF to go sailing with someone she hardly knew? Either they had something privately going on behind her boyfriend’s back or Lisa just really wasn’t into him anymore. I wonder if Paul had anything to do with her disappearance. I mean, we do not have confirmation that Lisa and Florian even got on the boat. Can her family or boyfriend confirm they watched them sail off? Are there any witnesses confirming they saw them on the boat? All the information we have is that the boat left dock…then we have reported sightings of the boat at different docks and one sighting of Florian after the boat was reported missing. I wonder if Lisa ever even made it on the boat. I think Florian and Paul were in on her disapperance. And Florian, being a drifter, was able to disappear so easily without a trace. I think Paul has something to do with it


  14. Louieloui

    Did Lisa have a daughter? There is a woman in the Tyrone/Newman/Peachtree City GA area that looks very similar, almost identical going by the same name yet claims to be in her late 20’s. This person is sort of a drifter/ shady/sketchy type. She matches the physical description but the similarities end there. Mugshots.com has a recent photo under the name Lisa Michelle Bishop…. Anyway, I also agree that the story sounds unlikely. No purposeful disrespect to the family but the whole “we are just friends” line sounds like a pile. No bf would buy that!!! No one could claim to be that naive. Any bf or gf in that situation would have either dumped her straight away or insisted on going. The bf should be fully investigated. Maybe he participated in “searching” for her to throw off any doubt that he had something to do with her disappearance. It just doesn’t seem like a legit account of events.


    • Rich McArthur

      I bet her bf sold her off to the sex slave trade. He was much older, prob very controlling, and he owned the club in which Lisa and Florian met. He prob set the whole thing up. His club is just a front for a smuggling operation.


  15. Louieloui

    Did Lisa have a daughter? There is a woman in the Tyrone/Newman/Peachtree City GA area that looks very similar, almost identical going by the same name yet claims to be in her late 20’s. This person is sort of a drifter/ shady/sketchy type. She matches the physical description but the similarities end there. Mugshots.com has a recent photo under the name Lisa Michelle Bishop….


  16. Pegg

    Lisa was my best friend when we were in high school. I was so sad when I heard about this happening I think that this story revolves her because the rest of the people were foreigners. She was very sweet never met a stranger and even though it has been a long time ago I think about her often and miss her as well. We went to Morrow High School together.


  17. f



  18. Anonymous

    I am not being disrespectful, I have a wife and daughter too. I know if this would have happened to me, I would spend the rest of my life searching for them. Is it possible that a sinister spin was placed upon this that need not be? Is it possible that the ship just sank? I looked at pictures of that ship, it did not look that sea worthy. I just find it hard to believe that no one has spotted them, the ship is very noticeable it would have been spotted by now. I just think the ship sank and they have passed shortly after they set off on the trip and nothing underhanded happened. I could certainly be wrong, but it is just hard to keep hidden this long, unless you are on the bottom of the ocean. I have worked in Law enforcement and have seen reports that have sighting of individuals all over broad areas, they can be very convincing and appear to be accurate, later to find out that they were completely wrong. That maybe what happened here with the sightings of the two men.


  19. Anonymous

    There are many, many conjectures as to the fates of Ms. Bishop, Mr. Fourche, and the crewmen. Why would the total focus reside mainly on Ms. Bishop when it can be interpreted as a relationship between the two. She left her partner, he left his, (the belongings, I don’t believe were ‘stored’) and the following story was wrapped around it. How did Paul know the lady who was in possession of abandoned items? Why does Paul say that he ‘will’ find him? Hmmm. Paul easily traveled abroad-could she just as easily have done the same? Florian was younger and better looking-by society’s standards-than Paul-he mentioned it-and that in itself lent credence that something else is afoot. The ship sank. The ship was repainted and renamed. The ship was sighted. The cargo was a smuggler’s paradise-by hearsay. What’s the real story? If none of the people have actually been seen, except for the purported views of Florian and Felipe/Philippe(st?) yet information is relayed by Paul… For one to vehement about leaving for places unknown does not come lightly. They had known each other for a year-as stated-and if nothing happened onshore during that period, is it a given that she actually made it beyond the shore? Something’s fishy.


  20. Jaime Britten

    I don’t think this case will be solved, to many twists and turns, though somewhere down the Iine I believe she was taken from that freight trailor by pirates or even sold, I think this will stay as a mystery.


  21. James

    Obvious this woman was having a fling with this guy. Women don’t just jump up and proclaim they are traveling with a guy and tell family and their BF who are begging them not to go to basically mind their own business if they are not romantically involved with the person.

    Find me one woman who would go anywhere with a guy they are not sleeping with and I’ll show you an ostrich that eats bologna sandwiches.

    This is a strange case no doubt but this was not some innocent little journey she was taking.


    • Nina

      I’m glad I’m not your wife or girlfriend, you’re the type of guy who would demand I quit my job if my boss was a man. What you said is so deeply misogynistic. Oh, and I took a trip to Europe with a male friend, he was married, I was in a committed relationship, never once did we sleep with each other because we’re not bad people.


      • Susan

        I certainly do not believe the position you are taking, Nina.


      • Karine

        I agree so much with you Nina about some comments being so mysogynist. The young woman was a journalism student, she had an opportunity for a short travel and going to a foreign country. An adventure quite interesting for some possible free-lance work to build her port-folio. But no, people only talk about how she must have been unfaithful to go without her boyfriend.


  22. Anonymous

    @UnsolvedMysteries Is there an investigating agency assigned to this case?


  23. Ciara

    So many speculations! I think it simply sank…


  24. carlos

    hi how are ya


  25. Involved

    Read the New Times (Miami) article on the Freedon case. It is the most comprehensive account of what was known at the time of the vessel’s disappearance. Of note was the poor (rough) weather right after the vessel departed Miami, it’s lack of communications and survival equipment, and poor condition. A tragic event for sure. The most likely outcome is that the vessel sank before it was ever reported missing.


  26. joe

    Dont docks have log book was the bout actually there or any were with that name or even that type of bout.??


  27. Derek

    Wow look at that boat. It’s obvious she was having some sort of fling with this foreigner. Some females get swept away by the mysterious type. She trust this man with her life. Maybe she wasn’t happy with bf or bored so she wanted to test the waters. So sad because this cost her life.


  28. Jill

    Is it possible that she was smuggled and sold? Is it possible that Paul allegedly is involved.
    Maybe she ran away from Paul. Has anyone checked to see if she is in a sex ring? Something I saw on a show that people are sold. Scary. Maybe paul got rid of them both. This is tragic. I am so sorry for the family of Lisa Bishop. Anyone, if you are seeing this. Know that your family will never stop looking for you. Prayers to the bishop family. May you have an answer and a safe return of your daughter.


  29. bill

    When i was stationed in Miami beach with the Coast Guard, We were going up the Miami River and I remember seeing a Haitian freighter tied up. I can’t remember the name of the boat, but what really stuck out at me was there was a different name that had been painted over underneath the name. It was back in 1990. I am not 100% sure, but I really believe it said Freedon. Sorry, but I wasn’t aware of this mystery at the time and I realize I could be wrong but it has always bothered me.


  30. unsolved

    test comment


  31. Rebecca

    It seems Paul knew Florian a great deal. How did he know where Florian stayed. Paul returned to Atlanta and questioned a woman who had been storing Florian’s personal belongings. A witness claimed he saw the missing ship, but no sightings of the passengers. This story just doesn’t add up Florian invited Lisa along on the voyage to Haiti, knowing she was in a relationship with Paul. Lisa accepted his offer she had known him little over a year. It seems that Florian or someone else took the ship in another direction and not the direction toward Haiti they led people to believe. The ship was painted and renamed why? Paul said I feel that if Florian is out there, eventually, I’ll find out about it, and I’ll locate him.” it sounds like he knows more about Florian that he is saying. This must be devastating for Lisa’s parents their daughter vanished without a trace, not knowing what happened to her is too much for any parent to bear. My prayers goes out to this family.


  32. Ashley

    When I Google the name “Floridan Bourch” it has 2 images that pop up. One is the photo that you have of him before he went missing. The other photo is a recent photo of a older man, probably around his current age, that appears to look very similar to him??? Has he been found?


  33. Anonymous

    any updates


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