Amy Lynn Bradley (lost Rhapsody of the Seas cruise pictures of missing woman; 1998)
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Amy Lynn Bradley is an American woman who went missing in 1998 during a family trip on the Royal Caribbean cruise ship Rhapsody of the Seas. This has sparked several large-scale investigations, with many theories about the disappearance following in the years since.
One common theory is that Bradley was kidnapped and sold into sex trafficking. One significant element to this theory is that the cruise pictures of Bradley went missing the night before she disappeared, and remain unaccounted for to this day, as other passengers who had their photos taken had theirs accounted for. Those who believe Bradley was trafficked claim that these pictures were taken for use by her traffickers.
Background: March 24th, 1998
Bradley, a 23-year-old Longwood University graduate, had plans to start a new job at a computer consulting firm in autumn of 1998. To celebrate, her family (consisting of her brother Brad and their parents Ron and Iva) went on a cruise on the Royal Caribbean-owned Rhapsody of the Seas, which was headed for the Dutch Caribbean island of Curaçao. They boarded the ship on 21 March 1998.
On the 23rd of March, Amy and Brad partied into the late hours of the night in the Mardi Gras nightclub of the ship, where the band Blue Orchid was playing. One of the band members Allister Douglas (better known by his nickname 'Yellow') could be seen in video footage dancing with Amy-- footage which would become prominent after her disappearance, as it is the last known video recorded of Amy to this day. Early the next morning, Brad and Amy sat on their family suite's balcony before Brad went to sleep. The last confirmed sighting of Amy was between 5:15 and 5:30 AM when her father Ron saw her sleeping on a balcony chair.
However at 6 AM, she disappeared from the family cabin altogether. Her father was immediately alarmed, noting in an interview on American talk show Dr. Phil that 'When I couldn't find her, I didn't really know what to think, because it was very much unlike Amy to leave and not tell us where she was going.' All that she had apparently taken with her were her cigarettes and lighter, indicating that, if she had left of her own accord, she had not intended to go very far.
The Bradley family alerted the crew, begging them to stop the boat from disembarking and to make an announcement about Amy's disappearance. Their pleas were rejected, however, on the grounds that it was too soon to do so. The ship arrived at Curaçao with no restrictions placed on the movements of the other 2,000 guests onboard. An announcement was finally made at 7:50 AM, albeit a brief, discreet one that simply asked Amy to come to the purser's desk. Further searches of both the island and the ship by the family, the crew, the Dutch Caribbean Coast Guard and the FBI turned up nothing.
In the years since there have been many further investigations and alleged sightings. Initial suspicions that she had drowned after falling or throwing herself off of the ship were quickly ruled out due to Amy's strong swimming and athletic prowess. She had a Physical Education degree, which would have included safety and first aid training, and was not prone to taking risks. and an overall lack of evidence.
Sex Trafficking Theory and Role of Missing Pictures
One of the more popular theories surrounding Amy's disappearance was that she was kidnapped and subsequently sold into sex trafficking.
Many of her alleged sightings provide evidence to support this idea. The earliest in August 1998, by a Canadian tourist called David Carmichael who was unaware of the case at the time, detailed an English-speaking woman being handled by two "minders" in Curacao trying to get Carmichael's attention in a cafe - Carmichael noted that after reading about the case, he felt '100% certain' that it was her, especially in relation her distinctive tattoos. Another sighting in January 1999, that of a US Navy officer, concerned him allegedly meeting Amy in a brothel on the Caribbean island, where someone begged him for help, on the grounds that she was held 'against her will' (this sighting wasn't reported immediately, due to the officer's concern of being in trouble for visiting a brothel, only doing so after he had retired and the establishment being burned down in unknown circumstances). In 2005, another tourist in Judy Mawer claimed to have also seen Amy in Bridgetown, Barbados, whereby she encountered a woman in her 30s in a woman's toilet claiming to be Amy before she was violently removed from the premises by two men.
In relation to all of this, the missing cruise pictures play a part. On cruise ships, it is a common feature that passengers will have their pictures taken, in order to be sold later. Amy and her family were no exception to this, having their pictures taken individually by a professional photographer following their return from the Caribbean island of Aruba. However, the night before she disappeared, Amy's pictures were missing from the picture display and their whereabouts remain unaccounted for to this day, with the photographer in question having no recollection of what happened to them after printing them off.
This in turn has led to accusations that not only was Amy trafficked but that the crew were in on it as well, with much circumstantial evidence to suggest this. This mainly includes much of the staff being very attentive to Amy in particular, with one episode (whereby one waiter who had given Amy 'the creeps' for much of the cruise journey giving her parents an invite to Amy to join him on Aruba once they arrived there and Amy declining it) highlighting this. Meanwhile, it would also help to explain the crew's reluctance to grant the family's aforementioned request to not disembark the boat before arriving at Curacao, going as far as to have the ship captain Kietil Gierstad refuse to share a picture of Amy in relation to alerting others of her disappearance, on the grounds that it would alarm other passengers. The aforementioned Douglas meanwhile told Brad that he was 'sorry about what happened', despite only Amy's family and the ship security knowing she was missing.
Since Amy's 1998 disappearance, the pictures have yet to resurface, and will likely never do so, due to the photographer not knowing where such images now are, and (if the sex trafficking theory is true) being possibly handled by criminal trafficking gangs, the issue of Amy being found notwithstanding.
Beyond those images meanwhile, the only known footage of Amy on the boat was the aforementioned video footage that is publicly available due to Fenwick making it so on his YouTube channel, in helping with the search. Meanwhile, sexually explicit photos of a sex worker called 'Jas' in 2005 were sent to the family, due to the resemblance to Amy that 'Jas' apparently had.
Amy was legally declared dead on March 24th, 2010, 12 years to the day that she went missing, and the case currently is cold.