A freighter disappears with nine people on board after leaving Miami for 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:
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:
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.
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:
Lisa’s father, Bill Bishop, said there was no talking Lisa out of it:
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:
Linda Bishop and her husband traveled to Miami:
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:
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:
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.
Authorities believe that Florian Meyer Bourch is the key to the Freedon’s disappearance.