A woman whose husband disappeared during their honeymoon cruise last summer was found sleeping in a corridor far from the couple’s cabin the night he vanished, the cruise line said Wednesday.
George Allen Smith IV of Greenwich disappeared July 5 from a Royal Caribbean ship in the Mediterranean Sea between Turkey and Greece. The FBI has been investigating, but no one has been charged and no body has been recovered.
Blood stains were found running from the balcony of Smith’s cabin to life boats.
The whereabouts of his wife, Jennifer Hagel-Smith of Cromwell, during the time around his disappearance have largely been a mystery to the public. Federal authorities have said she is cooperating in the investigation, but she has declined to comment on details of the cruise, citing the ongoing probe.
After facing criticism from Smith’s family and Hagel-Smith for its handling of the disappearance, Royal Caribbean issued its first detailed account of the events surrounding Smith’s disappearance.
Alleged rape under investigation
The cruise line also said the FBI was investigating an alleged rape of a female passenger by the same young men last seen with Smith. The alleged sexual assault occurred three days after Smith disappeared, and was videotaped by the young men, according to Royal Caribbean.
The FBI has declined to comment.
The company denied allegations from Smith’s family that it mishandled the investigation and from Smith’s wife, Jennifer Hagel-Smith, that she was treated poorly after her husband disappeared. A female guest relations manager accompanied Hagel-Smith during the investigation after her husband’s disappearance, Royal Caribbean said.
“This situation was very serious. We took it very serious,” the ship’s captain, Michael Lachtaridis, told The Associated Press in an interview in New York. “We never abandoned Jennifer.”
Royal Caribbean said it promptly called authorities, sealed the cabin and did not clean the blood until given permission by Turkish authorities.
Turkish authorities have said Smith and his wife had been drinking heavily and had been gambling at the ship’s casino before his disappearance.
On the night her husband disappeared, Hagel-Smith was found at about 4:30 a.m. sleeping on the floor of a corridor on the other side of the ship, far from her cabin, according to Royal Caribbean. She was taken back to her cabin by wheelchair — a standard procedure — at 4:47 a.m. by two security guards and a female supervisor, the cruise line said.
Smith was not in the cabin and his wife said she was OK, Royal Caribbean said.
‘Negligent and insensitive’
James Walker, Hagel-Smith’s attorney, slammed the cruise line for not getting her medical help or noticing blood around the cabin. He described her as unconscious when found, while Royal Caribbean said she was sleeping.
“It sounds quite outrageous, negligent and insensitive,” Walker said. “You can’t take an unconscious person and dump them in the cabin and not seek medical attention and reunite them with their next of kin,” Walker said.
Royal Caribbean said “nothing appeared amiss” in the cabin when Smith’s wife was brought back to it.
After the blood was discovered around 8:30 a.m., Smith’s wife was found shortly before 10 a.m. getting a massage in the spa, wearing the same clothes from the night before, the cruise line said.
“She responded that she was not aware that Mr. Smith was missing or where he was,” Royal Caribbean said in a statement. “Mrs. Hagel-Smith said he might be sleeping in another cabin because he had done so on at least one previous night during the cruise.”
After Hagel-Smith was found in the spa, a young man who had been with the couple the night before asked a staff captain whether blood was found on the outside of the ship, Royal Caribbean said.