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updated 1/24/2006 9:09:25 AM ET 2006-01-24T14:09:25
TRANSCRIPT

Jennifer Hagel Smith was married for just 10 days when her husband, George Smith IV, tragically disappeared from their honeymoon in the Mediterranean. 

In an exclusive interview with Joe Scarborough on Wednesday, the widow spoke about that wedding, what happened that terrible night, and the hell she went through the day she found out her husband was gone. 

To read an excerpt of the conversation, continue to the text below. To watch the video, continue to the text below.

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST, ‘SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY’:  Five months ago, George and Jennifer Hagel Smith were just starting their life together.  They were married June 25 after a storybook romance.  And, just days later, George Smith was gone.  He disappeared from his honeymoon cruise in the Mediterranean, and, for five months now, Jennifer Hagel Smith has maintained her silence. 

JENNIFER HAGEL SMITH, WIFE OF GEORGE SMITH:  George really was the all-American guy.  George had it all.  He was funny and romantic and handsome.  And he was a good friend.  He's a loyal person.  He is the type of person that you are proud to bring home to mom and dad.  My dad was so proud to say yes when he asked me for my hand in marriage. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Did George do that? 

HAGEL SMITH:  Yes. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Did he go ask your dad? 

HAGEL SMITH:  He did.  Yes, he did.

SCARBOROUGH:  Your dad is a big guy.  I would be very polite when I went to ask your dad. 

HAGEL SMITH:  And my dad actually could barely contain himself.  He ended up telling a few people, not my mother. She was furious that she found out last. 

But, yes, he was really proud of George and proud of us.  And everyone was so excited for us and starting our life together.  Both of our parents were just beaming at our wedding.  And it was just the perfect day.  It was magical. 

Everybody just said, this is something.  You know, this is one of those once-in-a-lifetime days, and we are so happy to be a part of it.  And it was.  It was just that.  It was the best day of my life.  And George and I were so excited to even come home from our honeymoon, to look at wedding pictures and look at our wedding video and just, you know, talk to people and just say, didn't we have such a great time? 

SCARBOROUGH:  So, talk about that day.  You all were going around with your friends? 

HAGEL SMITH:  No, not on that particular day. 

So, that day was Mykonos.  And this was one of our—it was going to be one of our best days.  George was so excited.  George loves Greece.  And he just couldn't wait to get off the boat that day.  So, the two of us had walked around for a little bit.  And we stopped and had lunch.  And we just sat, and, you know, watched people walking by.

And it was just such a breathtaking place that we were saying, God, I can't wait to come back here.  And we had visited a couple of ports already, but this was definitely just breathtaking.  I kept snapping pictures of George.  And he was saying, you know, I think that 200 pictures was OK.  We only are halfway through the trip. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And he was happy.  You were happy. 

HAGEL SMITH:  He was so happy.  And we just said, this is life. 

And, in fact, we were talking about—we said, maybe we should buy a time-share here, or maybe we should buy a—retire here. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes. 

HAGEL SMITH:  This is great.  And he said, well, maybe.  He said, how would our parents feel about that?  And George says, I really don't care.  It's too beautiful. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, we covered a lot of ground in this interview.  Jennifer was really open with me.  But when we got to the issue of that terrible night, when George vanished, she was guarded.  And she had to be guarded, because the FBI asked her not to talk about that part of the story while they were ramping up their investigation. 

But Jennifer was very eager to shed some new light on what happened the night George disappeared from that cruise ship. 

SCARBOROUGH:  So, let's talk about that night.  What can you tell us about that night? 

Video: Jennifer Hagel Smith Exclusive

HAGEL SMITH:  I know you are doing your job and you have to ask.

But, again, my number-one priority—and I am going to say this again and again—is just, you know, doing what the FBI has told me.  And, basically, you know, there's nothing that I am going to sort of release that—that happened to me that night.  I am excited in the future to be able to talk freely and openly, because that will mean that the FBI has solved their case.  And that will mean, you know, that I have freedom to speak and say, you know, whatever. 

SCARBOROUGH:  How about leading up to that night, the afternoon, the early evening? 

HAGEL SMITH:  George and I probably got back to the ship, I want to say, around 6:00 p.m., or so. 

Times are a little difficult to remember now.  But we—you know, we were planning on meeting a friend of ours—or a couple.  It was another honeymoon couple that we had became fast friends with, and we were spending probably most of our evenings with them.  They had already eaten, so they said, you two go on, and, you know, we will catch up with you later.  We will meet you at 11:00.

So, we had this just great dinner, a very romantic dinner.  And we were just, you know, toasting to the future, toasting to life, and just saying, God, we are the two luckiest kids in the world.  And we kept saying that.  And it's ironic now.  We just kept saying, you know, knock on wood.  Life is so good to us.  We are so lucky.  You know, we have had so many opportunities in life.  And here we are in the Mediterranean, toasting to our future. 

And it was, you know, a moment that I won't forget.  And, of course, you know, we met our friends.  And the evening goes on, of course.

SCARBOROUGH:  At 11:00, did you meet in the restaurant?

HAGEL SMITH:  We all meet together.  George and I go back to the room to—quickly. 

And then on our way up, he wanted to just drop off his sport coat, because, the other night, when we were—we would usually meet this other couple.  We would go to the casino, meet them, just play at the craps table or play Blackjack for a little while, and call it a night. 

This particular night, we did our same routine. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes. 

HAGEL SMITH:  We dropped off George's jacket and came back down…

SCARBOROUGH:  What time was that, that you dropped off the jacket?  It was, like, around midnight? 

HAGEL SMITH:  Around 11:00.  Around 11:00. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Eleven?  Eleven? 

HAGEL SMITH:  So—and that's the point where, you know, I—and I can't speak of.  And I wish I could. 

I know that there's a lot of questions that a lot of people have.  And that's where sort of the FBI picks up the story.

SCARBOROUGH:  So, you can't say what happened in the casino that night, from that point on?

HAGEL SMITH:  Right. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Is that where the FBI tells you not to talk? 

HAGEL SMITH:  Right. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Tell you about—what about who you saw..

HAGEL SMITH:  Yes, that's all under that same FBI category. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Can you talk about the Russian guys?  Because, at the beginning, everybody was looking at you, because—and, again, it wasn't just about you. 

HAGEL SMITH:  Which I didn't even realize, yes.  Yes. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, but, in any investigation—I think we talked about this. 

HAGEL SMITH:  Right. 

SCARBOROUGH:  If the spouse dies, the first thing they do, they just play the numbers.  It sounds cold and callous. 

HAGEL SMITH:  Which they never tell you before you get married.

SCARBOROUGH:  Right.  Yes. 

HAGEL SMITH:  That if something was to—is going to happen to your spouse that you will be looked at. 

SCARBOROUGH:  That they look at you with suspicion and then we started hearing about these Russian guys and some teenager from California. 

HAGEL SMITH:  Yes.I don't know when people learned of certain details surrounding the case.  But I will say that I literally didn't watch any news coverage for the first two months.  So, a lot of this information, I found out in only the past few months. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Really?

HAGEL SMITH:  And, as George and Maureen have told you, they would take notes. 

George's parents would literally take notes, watching your show and watching other shows.  And some of the information that we have come to know since what happened has come from that. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Can you talk about anything about these Russian guys?  Was that the first night you saw them? 

HAGEL SMITH:  I I wouldn't speak of those things, because I think that it's not appropriate. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You say it's not appropriate because the FBI told you not to talk about them? 

HAGEL SMITH:  And they have families, too.  And I am very sensitive to that.  So, I think that I am very careful and guarded in anything I would say, I am sure this is a tough experience for anyone who is involved in it. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Do you think the FBI is going to solve this case? 

HAGEL SMITH:  I hope so. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Let me ask you, do you think that—do you think George was murdered? 

HAGEL SMITH:  It's a good question. 

SCARBOROUGH:  What do you think? 

HAGEL SMITH:  I guess we will see. 

I am looking forward to ending this investigation.  I am hoping—the FBI said, initially, it will be months, not years.  And I am going to remind them, they have six more months, because I am hoping that they will come up with something. 

I have been told that, you know, our case has more evidence, whether it be, you know, blood stains on the awning or things of that nature, that has more than any cases in the past.  So, I think that this is—this is—this could be the one, you know?  This could be the one for the FBI.  I know that there haven't been many successful convictions in the past, but I am praying this is the one. 

SCARBOROUGH:  So, we get through the night.  You wake up in the morning.  And there are two different stories about where you woke up.  And, again, one said you woke up in the room.  The other said you woke up three flights up.  Can you tell us where you woke up? 

HAGEL SMITH:  It's nothing scandalous.  I can say that, if that's what people are wondering.  It's not scandalous. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, but you can understand why they would ask the question. 

HAGEL SMITH:  Right.  Of course. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You're on your honeymoon.

HAGEL SMITH:  Of course. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes. 

HAGEL SMITH:  Sometimes the answer, the truth is more basic or more simple than people like to think it is.  So, people can, you know, read into that as they will. 

SCARBOROUGH:  But you have been told by the FBI not to talk about that?

HAGEL SMITH:  Right.  Right. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And it's the horrible way Jennifer Hagel Smith says Royal Caribbean treated her in those first few hours after she was told her husband was dead. 

HAGEL SMITH:  It was three men dressed in white uniform from Royal Caribbean. 

They basically approached me and said, you know, your husband has gone overboard.  Andthey told me about the blood on the awning.  And, at that moment, I just—it's hard to remember, you know, my reaction to it at the time.  But I just literally remember grabbing both of my arms and just squeezing so tight, thinking, I have got to still be dreaming.  This has got to be a nightmare, because it was too much. 

Like, physically, emotionally,—I couldn't quite comprehend what they were saying. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Did they tell you he was dead, he had gone overboard and died? 

HAGEL SMITH:  They said he had gone overboard, and they found blood, and I had found out from them that they believed he went over in Greek waters.  And here we are in Turkey. 

So, as you can imagine, you play back in your mind at that time just the wedding.  And just—everything just flashes.  And you think, like, this is a sick joke, right, because we just got married, right?  You're kidding me. 

You just can't fathom the reaction.  I think I just felt so numb, and I just was so shocked.  And I really thought I was going to have a heart attack.  Like, it just was like, my chest just got so tight.  And I just thought—I didn't know what to think.  I didn't know what to do. 

Everything just—everything I knew in that moment was just gone. 

SCARBOROUGH:  The world you knew ended. 

HAGEL SMITH:  Everything was gone. 

If George was the center of my universe.  And we would tell each other that all the time.  And he really was.  And when that is gone, what do I do?  You know, what does my world revolve around now?  It's everything we had planned together, our life, our future.  Everything was just flashing, flashing, my parents, his parents.  It was just, this can't be happening. 

SCARBOROUGH:  This was the beginning of, from what I have read, just an unimaginable, hellacious day. 

HAGEL SMITH:  I was taken to a cabin somewhere in one of the lower decks. 

And I was told to take a shower.  And I was then given Royal Caribbean T-shirt, Royal Caribbean gym shorts, and Royal Caribbean tank top, because they said, we cannot, you know, obviously give you any of your own clothing, which was all in our room. 

I was eventually brought to a different meeting area, again, from Royal Caribbean.  At this point now, there comes back the ship's officers, the security officers and the ship's captain now.  And I have now the honeymoon couple that George and I used to, you know, hang around with.  They were also, you know, around or at my side. 

And they just basically said, you know, they want you to get off the ship in Turkey.  They want you, you know, to come for some questions.  I didn't realize at that time that I was a part of or even a focal point of an investigation or an interrogation. 

I was taken, you know, away from the ship.  So, now I am in town.  I am the only one there of all the other passengers.  I am the only one who is in Turkey, in a Turkish police station.  And there I am with all of my, you know, Royal Caribbean logo attire, and just falling deeper into just this feeling of shock. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Then they interrogate you.  And then I understand they actually—and, at this point, when you were in shock, the next part is, they actually make you take your clothes off, or lift your shirt up and take your pants down? 

HAGEL SMITH:  Well, which, I wasn't told to get off the ship.  They had then the Turkish police officers had said, you need to now go.  We are taking you to a hospital. 

They had told, you know, somebody, not my father, not me—or maybe they had figured that out later.  But they took me, drove me further into town to a hospital.  And it was a really, for lack of a better word, seedy sort of area and place.  And a man just very—you know, just lifted up my shirt and just looked down my pants.

And I, at this point, felt, you know, what does it matter?  You know, at this point, it's—modesty is out the window.  At this point, you don't you don't care about anything. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And you're in Turkey.  Obviously, you don't speak the language.  Did they give you money? 

HAGEL SMITH:  No. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Did they give you transportation? 

HAGEL SMITH:  No. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Did they gave you any guidance at all? 

HAGEL SMITH:  No. 

SCARBOROUGH:  They just threw you in the middle—a young woman, in the middle of Turkey?

HAGEL SMITH:  It was getting later in the evening. 

I was aware that the ship was going to sail around 7:00, give or take.  As I kept watching the clock in the Turkish police station, there came a point when, you know, I said, hey, I don't think they are really going to be holding this ship for me.  So, this day just kept going on and on.  And then, finally, when I was taken back to the dock, where the cruise ship was, it was getting time for the ship to sail. 

One minute, I am sitting there, thinking, what now?  No one is making any airport plans for me, the Royal Caribbean cruise line certainly wasn't.  Then I see my bags.  I see George's suitcases.  I see my suitcases.  And I see 10 Royal Caribbean logoed plastic souvenir bags on the dock, and I just froze. 

As I am looking at all of our suitcases and gifts that were thrown into bags, and—just one thing stuck out.  It was George's sneakers.  George's sneakers were, you know, appearing out of one of the bags that were—that was just haphazardly thrown together, in an attempt to, I am sure, get me and anything having to do with George and I just off the ship. 

And that moment, just looking at somebody's sneakers, but looking at George's sneakers.  And, you know, he was—he ran every day.  And just the thought of him—it just kind of hit me at that moment, that that's it.  He will never wear those sneakers again. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Is that the first time that you had time to just sit back and realize that he wasn't coming back? 

HAGEL SMITH:  Yes. 

I think that, you know, there are certain things that remind you of somebody or—that are personal.  And I think, you know, it's a person's clothes.  It's a person's—we have so many memories in your own—I remember when he wore that shirt.  I remember when he did this. 

And there I am, with all of his clothes, and without George. 

SCARBOROUGH:  I will tell you what.  We are going to stay on this case.  Jen was so abused by the cruise line.  I mean, again, this newlywed finds out she is a widow.  They throw her off the ship while she was in shock. 

She is interrogated in two different locations by Turkish police officers.  Then she is taken to a seedy hospital.  She is basically stripped-searched.  She is abused by this process.  She goes back to the ship.  She finds out they have dumped all of their worldly possessions on this dock, now, everything that they took with them, all of their memories.

And she is left there standing as the ship goes away.  It is a terrible, terrible situation.  We are going to hold Royal Caribbean accountable.  We are.  Trust me, we are.  I mean, I just—if you work for Royal Caribbean, get ready, because you ain't seen anything yet.  The hammer is going to come down on you. 

We are going to find out why you behaved the way you behaved, and how many more times this happens throughout the year, and why—again, why I am afraid now for any family member to go on your cruise line or any other cruise line, until we find out what Congress is going to do about it.

To watch part II of the interview, click here

For more information, go to www.hagelsmith.com. 

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