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Missing American couple feared dead after escaped prisoners steal their yacht in the Caribbean

A missing Virginia couple is feared dead after three escaped prisoners allegedly used their yacht to cruise through the Caribbean before eventually getting recaptured by authorities.

Ralph Hendry and his wife, Kathy Brandel — who in the winter months live on their catamaran yacht named Simplicity — were last seen by a boating neighbor in the St. George area Sunday afternoon, on the island of Grenada. They’d just arrived two weeks earlier and typically docked their vessel in the waters of the southern Caribbean nation, ABC News reported.

“On Sunday, they went into the town around 3 o’clock … another boater saw them go into town,” Hendry’s sister, Suellen Desmarais, told Fox 5 DC. “[When] the other boater … went to bed, he noticed that they were there, ’cause you always look to see who is around you and in the morning, when the boater woke up, they were gone.”

It was the same day three fugitives — Ron Mitchell, 30, Trevon Robertson, 19, and Abita Stanislaus, 25 — escaped the South St. George Police Station, according to a press release late this week from the Royal Grenada Police Force. From there, authorities said the escapees “made their way to St. Vincent via a yacht which was docked in the St. George area.”

They were recaptured by authorities on Wednesday in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, around 4:35 p.m. The men were previously arrested in December on charges stemming from a robbery case. Mitchell was also charged with rape, attempted rape and indecent assault, according to investigators.

“The RGPF is currently working on leads that suggest that the two occupants of the yacht may have been killed in the process,” police added in the release.

The Simplicity Yacht was later found anchored and abandoned off a St. Vincent beach, according to a statement from The Salty Dawg Sailing Association, to which the couple belonged. A “good Samaritan” contacted authorities after boarding the boat and discovering the couple “were not onboard and found evidence of apparent violence,” according to the association.

“I have spoken to the families and have offered our deepest condolences and our assistance in any way possible. In all my years of cruising the Caribbean, I have never heard of anything like this,” Bob Osborn, SDSA’s president, said in a statement Friday evening.

An investigation into the missing couple and the prisoner escape is ongoing.