The disappearance case of Olivia Newton-John’s long-time boyfriend keeps getting stranger. Patrick McDermott vanished on an overnight fishing trip almost eight weeks ago, stumping authorities. His ex-wife reported him missing almost two weeks later after he didn’t show up at a family party and she found his car. But why did it take so long for Newton-John to notice he was gone?
On Tuesday, MSNBC-TV’s Dan Abrams talked to Louise Pennell, Foreign Correspondent for Seven Network Australia, who has been closely following the case. Frank Liversedge, the manager of the 22nd Street Landing where McDermott's charter boat set sail, also joins the show with information.
DAN ABRAMS, ‘THE ABRAMS REPORT’ HOST: This is such a puzzling case. Here's the first thing that I don‘t understand. Why did it take so long to realize he was missing? I mean if Olivia Newton-John was dating him for nine years, didn't she wonder why he hadn't contacted her in weeks?
LOUISE PENNELL, FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT, SEVEN NETWORK AUSTRALIA: That's the question that everyone's asking. There are a lot of questions being raised about this case and not many being answered. Olivia Newton-John was actually in Australia when Patrick McDermott was first reported missing. In fact, she was on a promotional tour for an environmental group. She was at a tree planting and appeared smiling publicly, certainly gave and showed no signs of being concerned about her partner.
She then went on a retreat and also had photographs taken of her at this retreat. Again, showing no signs of stress or worry about her partner, so really, the question remains why was Patrick McDermott's wife the one reporting him missing and not Olivia Newton-John.
ABRAMS: What about his ex-wife? Do you know anything about what their relationship was like?
PENNELL: What we do know is that there were some problems with finances. Patrick McDermott on the fishing boat, “The Freedom,” told the crew that he had some alimony troubles with his ex-wife, who is an actress. As far as I know, he complained about financial troubles with her. They have a 15-year-old son together and today, we have documents that prove that Patrick McDermott actually applied or filed for bankruptcy back in July of 2000. So whether he had financial difficulties and staged his disappearance, whether it was a murder or an abduction, no one seems to know.
ABRAMS: And without getting too gossipy about this, I mean do we know what the status of their relationship was, with Olivia Newton-John and McDermott? I mean were they actively dating or do we just not know?
PENNELL: Dan, I think that's an interesting question. They were together nine years and the media always thought that Patrick McDermott was sharing her Malibu home. But we do know that Olivia Newton-John spends her time between Australia and America and neighbors of Patrick McDermott in Van Nuys and Los Angeles said they often saw him at his Van Nuys home. That his 15-year-old son often visited him there and you have to ask the question, if they were in a committed relationship, then why did it take so long for Olivia Newton-John to find out that her partner was actually missing.
ABRAMS: Let me ask you a quick media question. I mean July 11, the ex-wife reports him missing. It's only Sunday, I guess, and the Australian papers, that the story breaks that Olivia Newton-John‘s boyfriend is missing. What took so long?
PENNELL: Originally, he was just a missing person. In fact, the U.S. Coast Guard and the L.A.P.D. issued a press release about a month ago seeking public assistance for a Patrick McDermott and no one seemed to join the dots. It was actually “News of the World” that broke this story and it appeared in an Australian tabloid, which of course the newspapers and television jumped upon and I guess that's why I'm talking to you today.
But I think it’s interesting that Olivia Newton-John did go public, as you said, with a statement, appealing to the public to help find her partner.
Why she didn't do this when she first found out that he was missing, well who knows.
ABRAMS: Joining me now is Frank Liversedge, the manager of the 22nd Street Landing where the charter boat that McDermott was on set sail on June the 30th. Thank you so much sir, for coming on the program. So was this an overnight trip where he did not know the other people on the boat? Do you know what type of boat trip this was?
FRANK LIVERSEDGE, 22ND STREET LANDING MANAGER: This was an overnight trip. It left at 10:00 and returned at 8:00 p.m. the following night. It's evident he didn‘t go on the boat with anyone else. He made reservations for one person. If he would have been with someone else, he would have made reservations for two people.
ABRAMS: Right, it's not as if a group of friends rented the boat and everyone would be saying hey, what happened to Patrick. The bottom line is he made a reservation for one person on this boat overnight and the other people on the boat really may not have known him.
LIVERSEDGE: That's correct.
ABRAMS: All right. Now, you were able to actually go onto the boat and you found some of his belongings?
LIVERSEDGE: Well, the person who cleans up the boat at the end of the day found some of his belongings, his fanny pack, his rod and reel, his tackle box, and they turned them into the office and they were in my possession.
ABRAMS: When you say fanny pack, I mean did that include like a wallet and passport, et cetera?
LIVERSEDGE: In his fanny pack was his wallet, passport, car keys, some change, some other documents, and stuff like that were in there.
ABRAMS: All right. So these are his most important personal items that are still on that boat. Do you have any sense of any other people on the boat as to what they were saying about seeing him going off the boat or snorkeling or something?
LIVERSEDGE: I understand that some of the passengers gave depositions to the Coast Guard, stating that they thought they saw him get off the boat. They were pretty sure that he got of the boat; they talked to him during the day. The Coast Guard has these depositions and they haven‘t turned them loose as far as I know.
ABRAMS: And do you know what they said though?
LIVERSEDGE: I don‘t know the exact wording of them. No, I never saw them.
ABRAMS: But you have said that some other people on the boat were very vocal about his ex-wife?
LIVERSEDGE: Some of the people told me yes, there were a lot of statements that he supposedly made. But I have no real knowledge of what they said. I understand that those are in the depositions that the people gave to the Coast Guard.
ABRAMS: Now, I would assume it‘s a pretty big deal for you if someone goes missing on a boat with regard to a marina that you supervise. I assume that‘s fairly significant. When did you learn that someone had gone missing or was last seen on one of your boats?
LIVERSEDGE: On the 11th of July, Patrick McDermott‘s ex-wife called me on the telephone and asked me if I had seen him. I told her I knew nothing about what she was talking about. She asked me if I had anything turned in like a fanny pack or anything. I said yes. I described it to her. She gave me permission to open it. I opened it and I found his driver‘s license, credit cards, car keys. She gave me his license plate number from his car. I called Mike Frank, the owner of the boat. He happened to be home that day. We drove to the parking lot. We found his car. And at that point I called the police and the Coast Guard, and I said we may have a problem. Something is wrong here. That's when it all started.
ABRAMS: One more point of clarification. You say that some of the other people on the boat say he may have gotten off the boat. This was an overnight trip. Did it stop in certain places or did it go out to sea and simply come back?
LIVERSEDGE: It goes out to sea and comes back. You‘re not allowed to touch the islands, either Catalina or San Clemente Island and the boat never got probably within 100 yards at the closest to the island any time.
ABRAMS: So some people say that they saw him getting off the boat after the trip was over?
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