Tuesday, August 29, 2006


Hello Everyone, thanks for your emails and responses. Some have asked about the situation with the probate court; here's the sitaution: it's NOT YET in the CT probabte court. I'll try to explain why...

In a June 29th press release (not linked in their 'George Smith' press release center) Royal Caribbean writes:
"Royal Caribbean International and Jennifer Hagel Smith have reached an agreement settling any potential claims regarding the death of her husband George Smith IV. The company entered into this agreement to provide closure and move forward. The terms of the settlement are subject to approval by a Connecticut probate court. Royal Caribbean will continue in its good faith efforts to ensure Ms. Hagel Smith has access to all information regarding her husband's disappearance.

"We have done our best to assist Jennifer through the tragic events involving the disappearance of her husband," said Adam Goldstein, president of Royal Caribbean International. "She has handled herself well under the most trying of circumstances and we applaud her constructive approach to resolving this matter -- so much so that our company will also match a contribution by Ms. Hagel Smith to a charity of her choosing. We believe this agreement will help Jennifer to move forward in her life, while honoring the memory of her beloved husband."

"This has been the most difficult and challenging year of my life," said Ms. Hagel Smith. "I will always love George and cherish our time together. I feel blessed to have such a strong network of loyal family, friends and supporters who have provided me with such tremendous strength and encouragement. They have walked and sometimes carried me through this heartbreaking time. I am forever grateful. My discussions with Royal Caribbean have been very open, as well as extremely productive and informative. This journey has always been a matter of principle for me, and I know that George would be proud of what has been accomplished thus far, in good faith, as we continue to seek answers. I appreciate Royal Caribbean's cooperation, sincerity and efforts moving forward, which I believe will play a major role in helping all of us find closure. The memory of George will always live on in my heart, that of our families and everyone who knew him."

Heartwarming, isn't it? What a bunch of nonsense. Tucked within that statement, though, is something very important and none of the media outlets have yet picked up on it. "The terms of the settlement are subject to approval by a Connecticut probate court." Yes, that's true. But here's the interesting part. The settlement was agreed upon, inked, etc, on June 29th (if not long before). Here it is August 29th, exactly two months later, and the settlement agreement HAS NOT BEEN FILED. Why? What will happen when it is filed? Who, exactly, files it, anyway? Think about it.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Vanity Fair got it wrong.
Here it is, over a year after George disappeared. Nobody has been arrested, yet it is very clear that there are a number of people 'in the orbit of opportunity.' Most of them have been questioned, some of them have been brought before a grand jury in Connecticut, two of them continue to sail aboard various Royal Caribbean ships, and one of them has just $settled$ with Royal Caribbean. There's a shocker. In the past year we have seen George's story on the floor of congress, twice, and on the primetime shows practically ad infinitum. First Royal Caribbean was mum, but then they brought out the big pr guns and tried to reframe the conversation. It worked. After the Royal Caribbean communications folks dug themselves deeper and deeper, Lanny Davis came on and spun the conversation in a matter of hours. He successfully injected enough doubt into the debate that people watching along on tv couldn't tell which end was up. It boggles my mind that some people out there can look at the story of George Smith and conclude: yep, accident. Dude fell off the balcony, smoking a cigar. Vanity Fair's Bryan Burrough drank the Kool-Aid, folks. He phoned this one in and, unfortunately, a lot of people bought it - literally and figureatively. He missed the key interviews, never went on the ship, and didn't look into a few dark corners. I know because I have. And it's not pretty. My guess is that he was up against a deadline, realized the difficulty in getting the story correct, and erred on the side of caution. But come on, look at who is involved: three russian-american dudes, two of which live in the Brighton Beach area of New York (hint hint); a hot, young, flirty and drunken wife; a kid from California who, as with the Russians, had been present for a group sex romp on the ship just three days after George was murdered. Just a coincidence that they were also the ones to bring George back to his room? Then you have the two casino employees, Lloyd and Christian, who went to the disco with George and jennifer that night. And, drumroll...you have a corporation that is a convicted felon. Mix it all together, throw in some absinthe and money and sex and what do you get? Accident. NOT. Blood-in-the-room should tell anyone with half a brain that George didn't fall of that balcony. But let's humor Burrough and say, okay, maybe george did fall. He fell and bled on that awning. But what next? He slid off? Nope; that awning was too large and contrary to the spin, the seas were calm that night. Like glass. So, George would have to have fallen on the awning, got up (the fall was 21 feet) and repeated the error all over again. And what of the money in the safe? Where'd that go? It fell overboard with George, too? And how'd that blood get on the bed, on the floor, in the bathroom and in the hall. Yep, there was blood in hall, outside the door to the stateroom. And here are a few more things to consider: Jennifer went behind the Smith's back and settled with the cruise line. Why? Why did she go to her spa appointment two hours early, without George, without concern for George, in the same sundress she wore the night before? Why, by the way, was Jennifer not brought to the ship's DOCTOR when she was 'found' in the hallway - it is, afterall, ship protocol. Why does she deny kicking George in the groin that night in the disco? There are witnesses, end of story. And here's something you probably don't know: why were the Turkish investigators going to arrest her for murder? Next - the people in the orbit of opportunity all pled the fifth before the grand jury. Why? There's also a telling detail that many overlook - two people in the orbit of opportunity offer a different version of what happened that night. Josh says he went up to the disco with Lloyd and Christian, George, Jen, and one of the Russians. Lloyd says no, he and Christian went to the disco separately, and that they left early. Why the discrepancy? When someone tells a small lie, there's probably a bigger lie behind it. So who's the liar, here? Jen doesn't remember anything - how convenient. Maybe there's a reason she doesn't remember anything, and I'm not talking about the absinthe. Why did she fly home the NEXT day? Wouldn't you want to search and be present when the Greek cutters find your husband, especially if he is alive? Why did she back out of her scheduled interview with CBS 48 Hours at the last minute? Hmm, maybe she got wind of what they were going to ask her? Why did Royal Caribbean staffers take pictures of Smith's room that morning? And one other thing, why did Royal Caribbean clean up the blood that day, and scrub the room down for two days thereafter? What were they trying to clean up? Say, a murder? This is all a long way of saying that George Smith's death was no accident. This, btw, is just the beginning. Tell me where I am wrong.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

George Smith IV disappeared from Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas on July 5th, 2005, as the ship sailed from Greece to Turkey. Smith, a handsome 26yr-old from Greenwich, CT, had just married Jennifer Hagel in a beautiful ocean-front ceremony in Newport and the two were just a few days into their honeymoon cruise. On the night of July 4th, they had been gambling in the ship's casino and later partying in the ship's disco. That's where the stories begin to differ. And what happened from that point on, exactly what happened, may never be known. But here's the short version: George and Jennifer were in the disco, together. They left the disco separately. And that was the beginning of the end for George Smith IV.

Fellow passengers have provided vital information as to what happened that night and in the early morning hours of July 5th. Several reported an altercation between Jennifer and George in the disco; others reported taking a drunken George back to his 9th floor stateroom around 3:30am. Jennifer, they say, had left the disco before George, yet she was not in the stateroom when they brought him there. Passengers staying on either side of the Smith stateroom say they heard loud noises coming from the Smith room, beginning at approximately 4am. The noises, they say, ranged from partying to argument, from furniture being thrown about the room to a conversation on the Smith balcony. Ultimately, the noises ended in a 'horrific thud,' at approximately 4:26am. Several hours later, after the ship has arrived in Turkey, a 16yr-old passenger in a stateroom on the 7th floor sees a pool of blood on an awning outside her window. She takes a digital picture of the blood, only later to learn that a man staying two floors above her is missing and presumed overboard. By 8am, other passengers report seeing the blood, and the ship staff begin to search for George and Jennifer. They find Jennifer in the spa, unaware that her husband is missing. By afternoon, Jennifer and the men last seen with George have been questioned by Turkish police. None of them are put in custody. And around 6:30pm on July 5th, the Brilliance of the Seas sounds the horn- it is leaving port, minus two passengers. Jennifer has stayed in Turkey and is making preparations to fly home to Connecticut. And so began the mystery...