While the ocean is undoubtedly scenic, it is also incredibly dangerous. Some of the most dreadful stories of murder and survival have happened on isolated ships in the middle of the ocean. However, the stories of survival at sea offer hope and redemption.
Terry Jo Duperrault’s Family Dream Trip:
Terry’s story began with her father, Arthur Duperrault, an optometrist from Green Bay, Wisconsin. He had long dreamed of taking his family sailing through the tropics.
Arthur, 41-year-old, and his wife (38) raised money for the big tour and with their three children – 14-year-old Brian, 11-year-old Terry Jo, and 7-year-old Renee.
In November 1961, a Wisconsin family chartered the 60-foot Bluebelle boat for a trip from Fort Lauderdale, FL, to explore the stunning islands Bahama.
The captained of the ship was Julian Harvey (44), a decorated World War II and Korean War pilot. He was previously married five times.
Mary Dene (34) got married in July that year, accompanied Julian on the trip, acting as the ship’s cook.
Everything started well when the ship set sail on November 8. Over the next few days, they endured the blazing sun and the chilly winds at night.
The boat pulled to a halt at a place called Sandy Point, where the family enjoyed their meal and turned in early, planning a return to the States the next day.
However, for 11-year-old Terry, it would be a night that changed her life forever.
What Happened To Terry Jo On That Night?
On November 12th night, Terry left her family on the deck of the ship and moved towards her sleeping quarters.
Terry and her sister Renee went to bed in separate cabins at around 9 p.m. on that unfortunate night. Around 11 p.m., she waked-up by the sound of her brother Brian. He was screaming for help from his father, Arthur.
Terry Jo moved out of her berth and went towards the deck. While passing through the kitchen, she witnessed a view that chilled her to the bone. Her mother was lying down on the floor in a speedily expanding pool of her blood.
In the nearby main cabin, she found the body of her father and brother. Both had been sliced repeatedly with a knife, and Terry realized that they were dead as well.
Upon seeing her mother and brother dead, Terry Jo rushed to the main deck. She found the Captain, Julian, in the middle of opening the sea valves so that the boat would sink. When she asked what happened, he smacked her and shouted at her to go down below decks.
Terry returned to her bunk and observed the whiff of oil and water dripping through the floor. Harvey entered the cabin with a rifle but left it as the water level now extended till her cot.
Harvey had unlocked the Bluebelle’s flaps to sink it. He gave Terry a rope attached to the boat to keep it, but it was sure that he wanted to kill her.
Eventually, Terry Jo flung the rope. The dinghy attached to the boat slowly drifted away from the sinking Bluebelle. Harvey jumped overboard to catch it. Terry Jo watched him swim after the dinghy he disappeared into the night.
However, Terry Jo was able to untie a small cork float from the wall of the boat and rode it off.
Terry Jo Orphaned At Sea:
As the Bluebelle disappeared beneath the water and the sun rose slowly in the sky, Terry Jo found herself utterly alone, surrounded by hundreds of miles of the open ocean.
The cork raft wasn’t that large, and the tube around the edge was the only dry area she could sit on. Terry was wearing pink corduroy slacks and a white blouse. She had no shoes or anything to protect her.
Terry’s suffering and the effort in spotting her raft steered the Coast Guard to change the life rafts color from white to bright orange in the year 1962.
Day After Terry Jo Rescue:
After getting rescued by the Greek Freighter Captain Theo, Terry Jo was taken to Miami hospital. A week after, officials questioned Terry Jo in her hospital bed. Her story contradicted Harvey’s interpretation of the events. She said her family, along with Dene Harvey, had been murdered, at the hands of Julian Harvey.
It is believed that Julian Harvey planned to kill his wife Jane for her double cover insurance. He killed Arthur Duperrault and the others since they may have witnessed the murder.
Later, it was also found that Harvey survived an accident that killed one of his former wives and her mother around 12 years ago when the car they were in went off the wooden bridge into the water.
The police and the diver who examined the incident believed is doubtful. According to them, Harvey could have escaped uninjured without being ready to leave the car at the right moment.
Earlier, Harvey’s dinghy Torbatross and powerboat Valiant sank under skeptical situations. This has resulted in some hefty insurance claims.
During an inquiry by the United States Coast Guard, Harvey stated that the boat was hit by a storm that broke the masts. The gale also punctured the ship’s hull, ruptured auxiliary gas tank, and triggered a fire.
Harvey said that he found Renee floating in the water and tried to resuscitate her, but he couldn’t.
After he was informed about Terry Jo’s survival, he checked into a motel under a false name and committed suicide.
Terry Jo Duperrault After The Incident:
Terry Jo returned to Green Bay to stay with her father’s sister and three cousins. At the age of 12, she changed her name to Tere.
In an interview with the CBS, Terry Jo said she formed a special bond with the water after the disaster rather than a disturbing one.
She mentioned her experience in a book known as Alone: Orphaned on the Ocean. The story depicts the heroic survival to serve as a motivation to people all over the world.
Now Terry Duperrault Fassbender living a mostly quiet life with her husband, Ron, after that tragic incident. They have three children.