Tuesday, September 19, 2006


The powers that be have decided to delete George Smith's entry in wikipedia (why, that's a good question). I found this information to be a very straightforward account of what is 'known' about what happened to George Smith IV. So I am reprinting it below before it is lost forever to the caverns of the Internet. The information needs to be out there...

George Allen Smith IV (b. February 2, 1979 - July 5, 2005) is the subject of a murder investigation aboard the Royal Caribbean cruise ship, Brilliance of the Seas. Smith was discovered to be missing on July 5, 2005, ten days after his wedding to Jennifer Hagel Smith, while cruising the eastern Mediterranean Sea between Greece and Turkey.

Early life
Smith was born on October 3, 1978, in Greenwich, Connecticut, U.S.A., and grew up in the suburb of Glenville to be 6' 2" tall and play high school football. He ran Cos Cob Liquor store with his father in Glenville.
Jennifer Hagel of Cromwell, Connecticut was the daughter of a real estate agent and a builder. At 26, Smith married Hagel on June 25, 2005 in Newport, Rhode Island where they had met. They left 4 days afterward from Barcelona, Spain to honeymoon on a 12-day cruise to Turkey, a package reportedly valued at $10,000: a mid-ship stateroom, portside on the 9th deck, with a balcony overlooking the ocean.

Incidents prior to the disappearance
The Smiths made friends with a group of young men earlier during the trip. The group included:
Three Russian-Jews in their early 20s who are naturalized American citizens living in Brooklyn
Rostislav "Rusty" Kofman (cousin of brothers Greg and Zach Rozenberg)
Greg Rozenberg
Zach Rozenberg
California man Josh Askin, 20.
Smith and his wife Jennifer had been gambling the night of July 4 and drinking heavily, including absinthe. Askin has said that Mrs. Smith was flirting with the casino manager and implicated the man in a possible robbery of the Smiths' cabin. Passenger Margarita Chaves reported that she (Mrs. Smith) kicked her husband in the groin. Mrs. Smith apparently eventually fell asleep in a lounge area. The three or four young men helped George Smith back to his cabin in the early morning hours of July 5.
Realizing that Mrs. Smith was not with them, Mr. Smith asked the group to help look for her, but they were unable to find her. They returned to the Smith cabin and left George Allen Smith for the night.
At 4:05 a.m. local time on July 5, a passenger in a cabin adjoining the Smiths' cabin—California deputy police chief named Cletus Hyman—called the Guest Relations desk to complain about loud "drinking game noises" coming from the Smith cabin. Hyman reported being awakened twice by loud voices, then looking into the corridor and seeing three young men depart, hearing "the sound of furniture moving" as if the room was being put back in order, and eventually hearing "a horrific thud" in the vicinity of the balcony.
Pat and Greg Lawyer, passengers in the cabin on the other side of the Smiths, later reported hearing in the same time frame soft male voices in the corridor, a commotion in the room, and the sound of furniture being roughly moved and things thrown around. When security members responded to Hyman's complaint at around 4:30 a.m., the noises had already stopped. Greg Lawyer suggested they enter the room because "the room was being trashed," but with no answer and no noise, the security men chose not to enter the room.
According to their attorneys, the young men ordered room service from their own cabin between 4 and 4:30 a.m.. The group, who had also been drinking heavily, even took photos of the room service because they were amazed at the amount of food.
According the ship's records, shortly after 4:30 a.m., Mrs. Smith was reported unconscious on the floor of a corridor on the other side of the ship from her cabin. Ship personnel arrived and remained with Mrs. Smith while two crew members went to her cabin to find her husband, but the cabin was empty. Mrs. Smith was taken back to her cabin by wheelchair by two security guards and a female supervisor and left there at 4:57 a.m..
The ship arrived in Kusadasi, Turkey at 6:14 a.m., and passengers were cleared to go ashore at 6:39 a.m..

Reports of blood

Around 8:30 on the morning of July 5, after the ship had docked, teenager Emilie Rausch (along with her older sister and mother) reported seeing what appeared to be a bloody stain several feet long on the almost 12-foot wide metal canopy over the life boats below passenger balconies. Fearing a passenger gone overboard, crew members searched the ship and initially failed to account for three passengers: Smith, his wife, and one other. Mrs. Smith was found in the ship's spa and the third passenger was later accounted for. Only Mr. Smith remained missing, despite an extensive search and review of "SeaPass," the cruise line's means of tracking those who enter and leave the ship.
Royal Caribbean's official public statement describes the initial reporting of the incident this way:
The initial reports of blood on the canopy came in just after 8:30 a.m., over two hours after the ship had docked and many passengers and crew had departed. Within 10 minutes, the canopy area was secured, and a thorough search of the ship was undertaken for passengers in the cabins above and surrounding the bloodstain. Three guests, including Mr. and Mrs. Smith, were initially unaccounted for and did not respond to pages. By approximately 9:15 a.m., the ship's officers gave instructions that American and Turkish authorities be notified.
As part of the search following the initial passenger reports of seeing blood on the canopy, the ship's Chief Officer entered the Smiths' cabin at 8:41 a.m. and determined the cabin was empty. Since the Smiths had not been found, the Captain ordered the cabin sealed and a guard was posted around 8:50 a.m. Ship's personnel continued to search the ship for the missing guests.
Shortly before 10:00 a.m., the Staff Captain and two other ship officials went to the Spa, where they had been informed Mrs. Hagel Smith was having a massage. She was asked to come out of the treatment room and to meet with them in a nearby private room. The officers were relieved to have found one of the missing guests, but requested her help in ascertaining any information concerning the whereabouts of her husband. She responded that she was not aware that Mr. Smith was missing or where he was. Mrs. Hagel Smith also told the officers her husband may have slept elsewhere. She added they had been partying and that he had slept elsewhere on the ship on at least one other night during the cruise.
A female guest relations manager was assigned to accompany Mrs. Smith and assist her during the subsequent investigation. Mrs. Smith was provided with clean clothes from the gift shop by the cruise line and allowed to call relatives at home.

Criminal investigation
Both the Turkish police and the FBI were notified about the disappearance by 10:30 a.m. local time. An FBI investigator who happened to be vacationing in Kusadasi was assigned to look into the incident.
The Turkish police arrived at the ship at 12:30 p.m. and conducted a full forensic investigation of both the cabin and the metal canopy. They took blood samples, fingerprints, photographs, and collected other evidence in the room. The police questioned Mrs. Smith, two other passengers, and four members of the ship's crew. The Turkish authorities informed Royal Caribbean that the evidence had been delivered to the FBI and that they were free to clean the cabin and the metal canopy. Royal Caribbean reported that it cleaned the canopy at 6:15 p.m. local time, but kept the cabin sealed except for further brief examination by the U.S. Consulate on July 7, and did not clean it until July 11.
After retrieving Mrs. Smith's clothes and valuables and handing them over to a U.S. consulate official in the Smiths' cabin at the time, the cruise line chose to seal the cabin. They also chose to power wash the awning to keep other passengers from gawking.

Blood stains were found running from the balcony of Smith's cabin to life boats. A bloody handprint was found on an outside balcony railing. A chair was pushed up against the railing on Smith's balcony.
Karen Drake, a passenger in a cabin across from Smith's, said in an interview:
I'm worried, definitely, that there was some kind of serious foul play. Unless you were playing "king of the world", you know, it's just not possible to fall over. And I just -- there was so much blood. And the distance from his balcony to that deck was not that great, you know, to generate that kind of injury.

Incidents subsequent to the disappearance
Jennifer Hagel Smith has since complained publicly that the cruise line treated her callously, tried to keep the incident quiet, was negligent in its handling of the cabin and bloody canopy, and tried to claim that the disappearance of her husband was an accident despite evidence of foul play. Royal Caribbean has responded with several press releases during January 2006 giving their side of the story, including detailed accounts of the services they provided to Ms. Hagel Smith after Mr. Smith's disappearance; the nature of the involvement of the FBI, the U.S. Consulate in Turkey, and Turkish authorities; and a visit to the ship by forensics expert Dr. Henry Lee, requested by the Smith family's legal team.
Margarita Chaves, the same passenger who claimed to have seen Mrs. Smith kick Mr. Smith, claimed to have spoken to Josh Askin, who reportedly said to her, "The room service is what saved us." This statement has been interpreted several ways.
Three days after George Allen Smith vanished, three young American men were put off the ship in Italy following the alleged sexual assault of a young woman aboard ship, which was videotaped by the men. At least two of the men had been part of the group that had escorted Smith back to his cabin in the hours before he was reported missing.
Attorneys for the young men known to have seen Smith last have stated that they believe the incident was a tragic accident resulting from too much alcohol and that Smith moved a chair to the balcony to sit on the railing, lost his balance, and fell overboard.

On June 29th, 2006 a corporate release was posted on Royal Caribbean's investor relations website titled "Royal Caribbean and Jeniffer Hagel Smith reach settlement" The release failed to detail the terms of the settlement, but quoted several statements of Jeniffer Smith which seemed to convey a sense of civility and partial closure between the two parties.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


Was able to find the name of the passenger missing from Carnival's 'Imagination.'
She is Tammy Grogan, 36, from Toledo.

The FBI says they don't suspect foul play but are still investigating. Here is what's curioys: her family returned home Tuesday and found items including a computer missing from her apartment. Police also discovered that jewelry and some credit cards were gone, but they found no evidence of a forced entry, according to a police report.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


Two quick thoughts about the missing Ohio woman from the Carnival Cruise:
it's been several days and her name has not been released to the press - why? That can only help Carnival (in keeping further stories out of the press).
Why has Carnival issued press releases about the incident to the media but not posted them on their 'press release' section of the site? Hmmmm

Now, back to George Smith. Some have asked who's potentially involved. The circle is wide, but here's the short list:
Three Russian-Jews in their early 20s who are naturalized American citizens living in Brooklyn (two in Brooklyn, one elsewhere)
Rostislav "Rusty" Kofman (cousin of brothers Greg and Zach Rozenberg)
Greg Rozenberg
Zach Rozenberg

Josh Askin, 20, of southern California
(at least these two) crew members: Lloyd B. and Christian M.


And that's not to mention Jennifer.

FYI: look for a new CBS "48hours" on the topic soon.

If you know anything of the aforementioned people, please get in touch. Anonymity guaranteed.
Thank you. RED

Monday, September 11, 2006


Apparently, on June 21st, 2006, a crewmember of Carnival's 'Imagination' was reported missing from the ship as it was sailing between Miami and Grand Cayman. Minimal investigation, no body found (but it's hard to know for sure until we know the name).
Does anyone have the name or more details? Two people missing in three months from the same ship?

And, the question I have with this new disappearance is the obvious one: why wait to report her missing? My hunch is that something's wrong here, and it's a good pr move by Carnival - they get their word out first (and everywhere) and keep the victim's name out of the press. That way the media can't do much with the story...


Here's the link
Details of the case very murky at this point...
and here is another, better link

Friday, September 08, 2006


There's a lengthy article in the USA Today with the headline: Are you safe on a cruise ship? First thought is wow, it's about time. A hard look at the industry in general. But a few sentences into the piece, writer (not reporter) Erica Silverstein (of Smartertravel.com) concludes: 'The answer is a conditional yes.'
Oh, how brave of you.
Let's look at her sources. She quotes Michael Crye, president of the international council of cruise lines (the ICCL) 5 times. The ICCL, btw, is a paid shell for the cruise lines - they lobby on their behalf. Did you know that the cruise lines spent more on federal lobbying last year than Walmart? Of course he's going to say cruising is safe. He's not going to bite the hand that feeds him.
The question I have: where are the former cruise line employees who, speaking from experience, cite examples of the dangers of cruising? Where are the former security guards who can explain the egregious practices of their former captains and cruise lines? That, I guess, might make travelers squeamish about cruising. I'd love to know the origin of this piece and who pitched it to whom.

The bottom line is this - it's all about their bottom line. If you do your homework on what really happens on cruise ships, you'll find they are the perfect place to commit a crime. The crime occurs, there is little, if any proper investigation, the authorities (if notified) are late to the game, jurisdictional issues confuse everyone, nobody gets arrested, the ship sails on, and the crime remains a secret - afterall, it's in their $best$ interest to keep it that way. End of story.

Monday, September 04, 2006


Hello everyone, and thanks again for all your interest and support. I think it is necessary at this point to go back over some important information in George Smith's disappearance. On January 27, 2006, Royal Caribbean released their "Top 10 Myths Regarding Royal Caribbean's Handling Of The Disappearance Of George Smith." Much of this, in short, is professional spin; it would take me several posts (if not much longer) to even begin debunking it, but I will start, in no particular order.

Here goes. They begin...
"Myth 1. Royal Caribbean engaged in a deliberate cover-up, which impeded the investigation. The company washed down the canopy in the morning, before the authorities even arrived and then painted over the blood."
Well, I, for one, know of AT LEAST one guest on the ship who says she saw Royal Caribbean employees washing off that canopy as early as 7:30am, local time. Another says he saw them painting over the stain. One is a former homicide detective. And I am sure there are more of you out there.

Royal Caribbean writes:"Myth 2. Royal Caribbean destroyed evidence and compromised the crime scene before the forensic investigation was complete." Well, Royal Caribbean alerted the local Turkish authorities to the fact that George was missing after 9:30am local time. The Turkish authorities did not even board the ship until (at earliest) 11:30am, some two hours later. By their own admission, Royal Caribbean staffers had entered the Smith cabin in that time. (Later, in 'myth 10,' they write "The two photos were a "before" photo, taken at approximately 9 a.m. on July 5,..." Is that not an admission of compromising the crime scene? Royal Caribbean was in that room, taking photos, at the very least.

Let's skip to number 5. Royal Caribbean writes: "Myth 5. The company ignored numerous reports of fighting and/or confrontation noise and violence in the room." Passengers on EITHER SIDE of the Smith cabin reported noises of confrontation in the cabin, and both reported it in those early morning hours. Clete Hyman did, as did the couple on the other side; what's overlooked is that the couple on the other side CONFRONTED the Royal Caribbean 'security guards' (two of them) and told them, as they stood before the Smith cabin, that they better go inside that cabin, that all holy hell is breaking loose in there. That's fact. What more evidence do you need? The (7) bullet points they list are a wonderful example of denial and excellent spin.

Just for laughs, jump down to myth 9. They write:
"Myth 9. Cruise ships are unsafe." And they offer a litany of statements about why cruise ships are safe. Not so. If you have any doubt, just check out cruisebruise.com

Now, go to myth 11. They write: "Myth 11. Guests observed Royal Caribbean personnel cleaning the Smiths' stateroom in the days after Mr. Smith's disappearance... This is not only false, but also irrelevant."
False and irrelevant? Let's unpack that. There are at least two passengers who maintain (to this day) that they saw Royal Caribbean staffers in the Smith cabin, cleaning it, 'scrubbing it down' in the days following George's disappearance. These two people were staying a few doors down from George on deck 9; they knew his room, they had seen him on the cruise, and they saw what they saw. Royal Caribbean had the audacity to tell them no, they were mistaken. But these two people remain steadfast about what they saw. They,BTW, have no dog in the fight. They are just two everyday Americans who care about justice.
As for the 'irrelevant' assertion: well, let's be clear. If the Turkish authorities were on board by 11:30am and off the ship by 2:30pm, and just for the sake of argument we agree with Royal Caribbean that they cleaned the blood off the canopy at 6:15pm that evening, well, was that enough time to complete a forensic examination? Most forensic experts agree (and I have spoken to several) that three hours is hardly enough time to collect evidence. It takes much longer. And, Royal Caribbean says the FBI investigated the room on the 7th of July. Let me ask you this: wouldn't the FBI want to investigate a crime scene before it has been cleaned? If, as these two Americans say, George's room was cleaned in the two days following his disappearance, wouldn't that compromise the FBI's investigation of that room, that crime scene? Seems quite relevant to me. And as for the two Americans, they were shocked, and remain so.

I'll leave you with one final thought. Why was the carpet in George's room later removed? I'd have to say that's irrelevant.