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Amy Lynn Bradley Vanished off a Cruise Ship in 1998—But Witnesses Claim to Have Spotted Her Since

Did this promising young woman fall victim to a vile plot?

amy lynn bradley disappearance
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  • Photo Credit: Alchetron

On March 21st, 1998, 23-year-old Amy Lynn Bradley and her family boarded a Royal Caribbean International cruise ship en route to Curaçao. The Chesterfield County, Virginia resident had plans to start a new computer consulting job after her graduation from Longwood University, and the trip was meant to be a celebratory vacation. Unfortunately, what unfolded was only a nightmare.

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Two days later on March 23rd, Amy and her younger brother, Brad, attended a party at the ship's nightclub. They stayed out late dancing and drinking with the ship's band, Blue Orchid. Brad retired to the family cabin around 3:35 am, which was recorded by the ship's computerized door lock system. Five minutes later, Amy followed him back, where Brad says he and his sister then sat on the balcony to talk before he went to sleep. At 6 am the next morning, their father, Ron, found Amy missing from the balcony she slept on.

amy lynn bradley disappearance
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  • A photo of a sex worker named "Jas," believed by some to be Amy Lynn Bradley..

    Photo Credit: Alchetron

Having briefly woken up between 5:15 am and 5:30 am, Ron saw that Amy was in the lounge chair. He later described to local papers that he saw his daughter from the hips down, and that the door to the balcony had been closed. But no more than 45 minutes later, his daughter had vanished, along with her cigarettes and lighter. According to him, it wasn't typical of Amy's behavior to go somewhere without telling someone.

Ron searched the cruise's common areas for his daughter before waking up his family at 6:30 am to tell them the news: Amy was gone. The situation was immediately reported to the onboard crew. The Bradley's begged the crew to make a ship-wide announcement regarding Amy's disappearance, and to keep all 2,000 passengers from leaving the ship until Amy was found. The crew refused, saying it was too early for such an announcement.

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Finally, at 7:50 am, after most of the passengers had disembarked from the ship, an announcement was made requesting that Amy make her way to the purser's desk. After no response, the cruise staff searched the ship between 12:15 pm and 1:00 pm. The slow and inadequate response from the ship crew is cited as a large reason there are so few leads into Amy's disappearance.

After the official authorities were notified of Amy's disappearance, the Netherlands Antilles Coast Guard launched a four-day search, concluding on March 27th. Their initial instinct was to assume that Amy had either committed suicide or had fallen overboard. However, it was well-known that Amy was a strong swimmer, and there was no evidence in the area of foul play.

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There was very little information to go off of in the investigation, but on the morning Amy went missing, two passengers told Ron they saw a woman matching Amy's description on the elevator with cigarettes and a lighter. Beyond that, Amy was notably seen with a Blue Orchid band member—Alister Douglas, A.K.A. Yellow—during the party the night before. A videographer captured the two dancing together, but Yellow claims to have left the party by 1:00 am.

To this day, Amy Lynn Bradley's whereabouts remain unknown. However, there have been multiple potential sightings of her in the years since, leading to a belief that on that fateful morning Amy was taken to be sold into human trafficking.

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Later in 1998, a cab driver said that a woman matching Amy's description approached him with an urgent request to use a phone, but this sighting was never verified by the authorities. In August of that year, a Canadian tourist claimed to see a Amy—a woman with identical tattoos that made him certain in was her—walking with two men on a Curaçao beach, desperate to get his attention.

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In 1999, a member of the U.S. Navy reported that a woman in a brothel claimed to be Amy and asked for his help. She allegedly told him she was being held against her will, but the petty officer didn't report the incident as he feared for his career. He only came forward after he retired, but provided no evidence to support his claim.

During the fall of 1999, the Bradley family received an email from Frank Jones, an alleged Navy Seal. He told the family that he'd seen Amy held hostage by Colombian personnel in a housing complex, and, as a former US Army Special Officer, he and his team could launch a rescue. Jones and his team verified their claims by describing Amy's tattoos and singing the lullaby her mother used to sing for her. Over the next couple of months, they fed news and reports to the family, all while asking them for a total of $210,000 in funds. As the family awaited his call after the "rescue," it never came. The dramatic tale had all been a scam, and in 2002 Jones was sentenced to prison for fraud.

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In 2005, a woman named Judy Maurer claimed she spotted Amy in a Barbados department store bathroom. According to her story, Amy walking in followed by three men threatening her to follow through on a deal. She alleges that, after the men left, the distraught woman said her name was Amy and she was from Virginia. The men then came and took "Amy" away again. Maurer reported this to the authorities and helped them create composite sketches of the men and woman.

November of 2005 saw Amy's parents make an appearance on Dr. Phil, bringing with them an image that had been emailed to them depicting a “distraught and despondent” young woman resembling Amy, which suggested she was sold into sexual slavery. The photos were found by a member or an organization dedicated to tracking down the victims of sex trafficking.

In regards to the sex trafficking theory, some believe that cruise staff or the Blue Orchid band members were involved with her kidnapping. Yellow, who had been seen with Amy, gave a story to the authorities that did not match up with what the CCTV captured. Others also cast suspicion upon a waiter aboard the cruise. Allegedly, this waiter approached the Bradley family multiple times, asking them to pass on a note to Amy inviting her to get drinks with him on the shore. Chillingly, the professional photographer on the cruise printed out all the photos he'd taken to sell them at his stall, but the family could find no evidence of Amy, leading them to believe someone else had taken all of them first.

When a jawbone washed ashore in Aruba in 2010, authorities initially thought it was linked to a much more notable missing person's case: Natalee Holloway. Once the bone was cleared of any connection to Holloway, the authorities ceased pursuing the lead, despite the fact that nine other Caribbean vacationers were still currently missing. No DNA testing was done on the bone, but it was determined to be belonging to a Caucasian.

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On March 24, 2010—12 years after her disappearance—Amy Lynn Bradley was declared legally dead. With no verified witnesses and no remains found, the truth is still uncertain. Currently, the FBI is offering up a $25,000 for any information that could lead to closure in Amy's case. Additionally, the Bradley family is offering $50,000 for information regarding her location and $250,000 for information that leads to her safe return.