In 1961 a freighter sailed around the Bahamas as its crew spotted something incredible in the waters below. It was a young lady, near death, floating through the sea on a tiny cork float. So how had a 11-year-old kid named Terry Jo Duperrault come to be lost alone in the Atlantic Ocean? Her story will stun and astound you in equal measure.
After all, little Terry Jo’s visit to this part of the world was intended to be the outing of a lifetime for the Duperrault family. In fact, Dr. Arthur Duperrault, a 41-year-old eye specialist from Green Bay, Wisconsin, and his better half Jean, 38, had been sparing their cash for this outing for quite a while.
Of course, the couple wanted to take their three children – Brian, 14, Terry Jo, 11, and Renee, 7 – on a journey that they would never forget. So they chartered a boat, the 60-foot ketch Bluebelle, to take them on a week’s holiday from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to explore the islands of the Bahamas.
On November 8, 1961, the ship set sail with the Duperrault family safely on board. The captain of the ship was one Julian Harvey, and Harvey had brought his wife Mary Dene along for the ride too. And, for four days, the trip went just as the Duperraults had planned.
In fact, nobody suspected anything when, on the evening of November 12, with a full night’s sailing ahead, young Terry Jo decided to retire to her cabin for an early night. However, she was woken later in the evening by her brother’s cries, and she knew immediately that something was awry.
“I was awakened by my brother screaming ‘Help, daddy, help,’” Terry Jo, who now goes by the name Tere Duperrault Fassbender, told Fox News almost 50 years later. “It was the type of scream that you know that something horrible is happening.”
In fact, Harvey, a 44-year-old military pilot with a troubled past, had chosen that particular night to murder his wife of just four months. The reason? It was later revealed that Harvey had not long taken out a life insurance policy on Mary Dene. Apparently, Harvey intended to dispose of Dene’s body overboard and report her as lost at sea.
However, things didn’t go to plan. In fact, Dr. Duperrault saw what was happening and intervened, only to then be killed by Harvey. Then, desperate to get rid of any other witnesses to his crime, Harvey murdered all of the members of the Duperrault family who had been awake during the altercation. That left just Terry Jo sleeping in her cabin below.
When Terry Jo emerged a few minutes later, she found her mother and brother in a pool of blood on the cabin floor. Assuming they were dead, she climbed up on deck to ask the captain what was happening.
However, Harvey pushed Terry Jo back below decks, where the girl returned to her bunk, cowering in fear. In fact, it wasn’t until water began to fill her cabin that she ventured back up onto the deck.
Then, Harvey, who had opened up the ship’s sea valves with the intention of scuttling the vessel, gave Terry Jo a rope attached to a dinghy to hold. Later, Fassbender’s friend Richard D. Logan would speculate that Harvey planned on murdering the girl as well.