Disappearance of Amy Lynn Bradley

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Amy Lynn Bradley
Bradley in March 1998
Born(1974-05-12)May 12, 1974
DisappearedMarch 24, 1998 (aged 23)
While on board a Royal Caribbean cruiseliner, the Rhapsody of the Seas, she disappeared during the leg of the cruise while en route to Curaçao.
StatusMissing for 26 years, 2 months and 2 days
  • Ron Bradley (father)
  • Iva Bradley (mother)

Amy Lynn Bradley (born May 12, 1974) is an American woman who went missing during a Caribbean cruise on the Royal Caribbean International cruise ship Rhapsody of the Seas in late March 1998 while en route to Curaçao.[1] Her whereabouts remain unknown to this day. She was a 23-year-old Longwood University graduate at the time of her disappearance.[2]

After midnight on Monday March 23, 1998, Amy and her younger brother Brad headed to the ship's nightclub to go dancing. Records show that Brad decided to return to his cabin earlier than Amy. The ship's door lock records show that Brad had entered his cabin at around 3:35 am, and Amy soon followed five minutes later. The two chatted before heading to bed. Amy's father Ron awoke around 6:00 a.m. to check on his daughter only to find her missing from the balcony she had slept on earlier.

When authorities were alerted that Amy was missing, the Netherlands Antilles Coast Guard conducted a four-day search in the surrounding waters and along the cruise lines to no result. Authorities began to speculate that she may have fallen overboard and drowned, but investigators have rejected this theory as Amy was known to be a strong swimmer and searches turned up no sign of her. There have been possible sightings of Bradley in Curaçao. In August 1998, tourists saw a woman resembling Bradley on a beach and in 1999 a member of the U.S. Navy claimed a woman in a brothel said she was Bradley and asked him for help.

In the years after Amy's disappearance, some new evidence would arise leading to theories including Amy being sold into a human trafficking industry or potential remains. The case has been presented on Dr. Phil in a segment entitled The Search for Natalee: Amy Bradley, the case was also presented on America's Most Wanted.


Amy Lynn Bradley was born on May 12, 1974, in Petersburg, Virginia. She was a resident of Chesterfield County, Virginia. She attended a local college, Longwood University, graduating with a degree in Physical Education. She attended with a scholarship in basketball and was known for her strong swimming abilities as well as having previously worked as a lifeguard.[2] Amy was planning to start a new job at a computer consulting firm after she graduated from college.[3]

As a celebratory event, Amy decided to join her family on a cruise vacation on the Royal Caribbean International cruise ship Rhapsody of the Seas en route for Curaçao, a Dutch Caribbean island under the Kingdom of the Netherlands.[4]

Prior to the disappearance[edit]

Rhapsody of the Seas, shown in 2018

On March 21, 1998, Amy and her family boarded the cruise towards Curaçao.[2][3] Prior to the time of the disappearance, Amy and her brother Brad decided to stay up late dancing at a Mardi Gras nightclub party on the ship and drinking alcohol with the ship's band, Blue Orchid.[3][5] One of the band's members, Alister Douglas, otherwise known as ‘Yellow,’ was drinking with Amy that night and claimed that he left the party at around 1:00 am.[5] At the time, a videographer known as Chris Fenwick was also able to capture the moment where Amy and Yellow were dancing.[5][6]

After a couple of hours, Brad decided to rest for the rest of the night at the family cabin at around 3:35 am. The ship's computerized door lock system recorded that Brad returned to the cabin at 3:35 a.m. where Amy followed five minutes later. Brad reported that he and his sister sat on the suite's balcony and talked before he went to sleep while Amy stayed awake for a while longer before she fell asleep shortly after.[3][7][8]


Between the times of 5:15 a.m. and 5:30 a.m. March 24, 1998, Amy's father Ron woke up and got up to check on the status of his children where he saw Amy still sleeping on the lounge chair of their cabin's balcony. Ron told local papers—"could see Amy's legs from her hips down. […] I dozed back off to sleep. The balcony door was closed, because if it hadn’t been closed, I would have gotten up and closed it."[9][10] When he got up at 6:00 am, however, she was missing along with her cigarettes and lighter. He later said, "I left to try and go up and find her. 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."[11] After Ron searched the common areas of the cruise, he woke up the rest of the family and told them Amy was missing at 6:30 am.[3][5][8][9][10]


Amy's family immediately reported the missing case to the onboard crew where they continued to plead with the crew members to keep the 2,000 passengers from disembarking the cruise and to make an announcement to assist in finding Amy. However, the team at the purser's office informed them that it was too early to make a ship-wide announcement. The crew agreed to issue an announcement at 7:50 a.m. after a majority of the passengers left the ship announcing, "Will Amy Bradley please come to the purser’s desk?".[10] Between 12:15 p.m. and 1:00 pm, the cruise staff searched through the ship but could not find Amy. The delay that the crew put on the search and investigation of the disappearance has been said to have led to lowering the chance of finding Amy by ignoring the Bradley family's advice and allowing the passengers to disembark.[6]

The Dutch Caribbean Coast Guard conducted a four-day search that ended on March 27, 1998, and Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines chartered a boat to continue looking for her. The Coast Guard used three helicopters and a radar plane to assist in the search.[12]

Possible sightings[edit]

Initially, the authorities suspected that Amy had either fallen overboard or died by suicide. However, this speculation was soon discredited as Amy was known to be a strong swimmer and her body was never found in the waters as well as no evidence of foul play.[2][10][9][11]

On the morning of the disappearance, two passengers told Ron that they saw a woman matching Amy's description taking an elevator to the ship's deck with cigarettes and a lighter. However, this did not lead to any findings.[10]

Another witness was a cab driver where he stated that a woman matching Amy's description approached him and said she urgently needed a phone. This sighting was never confirmed by authorities.[10]

In August 1998, a Canadian computer engineer claimed to have seen Amy walking down with two men on a beach in Curaçao, five months after the disappearance was made public.[3][6][13] The witness noticed that the woman was constantly trying to get his attention until he lost sight of her at a nearby café.[12] The woman's tattoos were reportedly identical to Bradley's and the man said he was "two feet away from her" and he was sure it was her with complete certainty.[11]

Cruise liner moves into Curacao, pictured in January 2021

In January 1999, a U.S. Navy petty officer claimed to have seen a woman at a brothel in Curaçao who claimed to be Amy Bradley. He stated she told him that "her name was Amy Bradley and [she] begged him for help", explaining that she was held against her will and not allowed to leave[11][14] and did not report the incident earlier as he feared for his career in the Navy having been in a brothel. The witness only contacted Amy's family after he retired and saw her picture in a magazine. There was no evidence to support the witness's claim.

There was another potential sighting in March 2005 when a witness named Judy Maurer claimed to have seen Bradley in a department store restroom in Barbados. She claimed a woman entered the restroom accompanied by three men who proceeded to threaten her if she did not follow through on a deal. She alleges that after the men left, she approached the distraught woman who said that her first name was Amy and that she was from Virginia before the men re-entered and took her away. Maurer called authorities and they created composite sketches of three men and the woman based on her account.[1][15]

Events after the disappearance[edit]

In the fall of 1999, Amy's parents received an email from a self-proclaimed Navy Seal Soldier—Frank Jones.[16] Frank told the family that he was a former US Army Special officer with a team of experienced soldiers who might be able to rescue Amy.[16] Jones had claimed that his team had seen Amy being held by heavily armed Colombian personnel in a housing complex surrounded by barbed wire. The team also gave an accurate description of Amy's tattoos and sang the lullaby that Amy's mother used to sing for Amy.[10] Over the next few months, Frank would feed news to the family and provided reports on sightings of their daughter. When Jones told them they were going to attempt a rescue, he added that more funds were needed. The Bradleys sent Jones a total of $210,000 to fund the set up for Amy's search and had expected a call from Jones and his team for the results of the rescue mission that never came. Jones had made the story up and had tried to scam the Bradleys of money. In February 2002, federal prosecutors in Richmond charged him with defrauding the Bradleys of $24,444 and the National Missing Children's Organization of $186,416. Jones pleaded guilty in April of mail fraud and was sentenced to 5 years in prison.[16]

Another incident involved the finding of a jawbone that washed ashore in Aruba in 2010.[1] Initially, it was thought to be the jawbone of another missing person's case—Natalee Holloway—but once the jawbone was cleared of Holloway,[17] authorities ceased any further testing despite the fact that there were nine other Caribbean vacationers that were said to be missing. No DNA testing was done on the material. They say that the bone is human and was likely from a Caucasian origin.[1][17]

Bradley's mother and father appeared on the November 17, 2005, episode of Dr. Phil. An image of a young woman resembling Bradley that was emailed to her parents was shown on the program and it suggests that she might have been sold into sexual slavery.[18] An email was sent to the Bradley family website containing two photographs of a woman that closely resembled Amy. The photographs were observed by a member of an organization that attempts to track victims on sites that feature sex workers. The woman in the photo has been said to appear "distraught and despondent"[17] and was a sex worker known as Jas.[13]

Theories on the disappearance[edit]

There are some theories that are circulating the internet in regard to the disappearance of Amy Lynn Bradley. One of these theories was that she was kidnapped and sold into the illegal human trafficking industry in the Caribbean.[10] This theory is supported by various sources of evidence including a key witness from a U.S. Navy Officer[2][3][19] claiming that he heard a worker at a brothel in the Caribbean claiming to be Amy and a 2005 photo that was emailed to Amy's family. Another piece of evidence would include the inconsistencies of the witnesses on the night of the disappearance. In People Magazine, Amy's mother stated, "I remember watching people watch her admiringly" and later goes on to say "Amy would have been a trophy."[9] This theory also includes suspicions of the staff/band members on the cruise on the night of the disappearance; one of these suspicions being the inconsistent story that the band member ‘Yellow’ presented to the authorities as opposed to what CCTV has captured that night.[5][10] Many people suspected that a waiter was also involved with the disappearance. Throughout the night, Amy's family was approached by the same waiter asking to pass on a note to Amy for him involving an invitation for her to go drinking with him once they reach shore.[10] In addition, the professional photographer had printed out all photos taken throughout the cruise to sell at a stall, but the family could not find any of Amy's photos, making them believe that the photos had been removed by somebody.[10]

Another theory authorities considered was that Amy was murdered on the ship and thrown overboard. However, the only evidence supporting this is the discovery of a jawbone which washed ashore on a beach in Aruba.[1]

The final theory includes Amy falling overboard or dying by suicide as initially suggested by the authorities.[2][3]

Amy Lynn Bradley was declared legally dead on March 24, 2010, twelve years after the disappearance with no witnesses and no body found.[19]

Aftermath and rewards[edit]

Amy Lynn Bradley Wanted Poster. FBI

The FBI is currently offering a reward of up to $25,000 for any information that could potentially lead to the recovery of Amy Lynn Bradley or leads to an arrest or conviction of the person(s) responsible for Amy's disappearance.[20][21] On top of this, the family is awarding $250,000 for information leading to her safe return and the family also has a reward of $50,000 for information leading to her current location.[1][16]

Her case was featured on America's Most Wanted[21] and the television show Disappeared.[22] Her case was also the subject of episode 59 of the Casefile podcast and the podcasts Crime Junkie[23] and The Casual Criminalist.[24]

Renewed attention was paid to her case after the disappearance of Natalee Holloway in 2005.[18][25][26]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Mikkilineni, Rupa (January 3, 2011). "Jawbone rekindles cruise ship mystery". CNN. Retrieved October 1, 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Serena, Katie (December 3, 2021). "The Mysterious Case Of Amy Lynn Bradley, The 23-Year-Old Who Vanished From A Cruise Ship". All That's Interesting. Archived from the original on March 13, 2018. Retrieved December 17, 2021.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Disappeared (September 29, 2021). "Amy Lynn Bradley". Disappeared. Archived from the original on September 25, 2020. Retrieved December 13, 2021.
  4. ^ Zaken, Ministerie van Buitenlandse (May 10, 2017). "About Curaçao - United States - Netherlandsandyou.nl". www.netherlandsandyou.nl. Retrieved January 8, 2022.
  5. ^ a b c d e Fenwick, Chris (March 1, 2001). "Amy Bradley Is Missing". One on One. Archived from the original on December 1, 2010. Retrieved December 2, 2021.
  6. ^ a b c Suzzane, Victoria (September 1, 2021). "Vanished: What Happened to Amy Lynn Bradley?". Medium. Archived from the original on January 10, 2022. Retrieved December 10, 2021.
  7. ^ Grande, Todd (October 21, 2021). "Amy Lynn Bradley Disappearance Analysis | Complex Conspiracy or Simple Explanation?". YouTube. Archived from the original on January 8, 2022. Retrieved December 2, 2021.
  8. ^ a b The Charley Project (October 24, 2008). "Amy Lynn Bradley". The Charley Project. Archived from the original on April 4, 2018. Retrieved December 16, 2021.
  9. ^ a b c d Mysteries, Unsolved (May 10, 2017). "AMY BRADLEY". Unsolved Mysteries. Archived from the original on June 6, 2017. Retrieved December 17, 2021.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Howe, Callum (October 5, 2021). "The Disappearance of Amy Lynn Bradley". The Casual Criminalist. Archived from the original on December 10, 2021. Retrieved December 17, 2021.
  11. ^ a b c d "The Search for Natalee: Amy Bradley". Dr. Phil. November 17, 2005. Retrieved January 2, 2017.
  12. ^ a b "Amy Bradley, 23". People (magazine). September 23, 2016. Retrieved January 9, 2017.
  13. ^ a b Moran, Michael (November 27, 2021). "Family fear daughter was sold as sex slave after disappearing from cruise ship". Mirror. Archived from the original on November 27, 2021. Retrieved December 10, 2021.
  14. ^ Van Zandt, Clint (June 20, 2005). "Who's taken our daughter?". The Abrams Report. Retrieved January 2, 2017.
  15. ^ "Vanished, with Beth Holloway - Amy Bradley, Pt. 5". A&E Television Networks (Lifetime). Archived from the original on December 21, 2021. Retrieved February 9, 2017.
  16. ^ a b c d "Con Man Dupes Family in Hunt for Daughter". ABC News. June 26, 2003. Archived from the original on January 13, 2017. Retrieved January 12, 2017.
  17. ^ a b c Gibbons, Phil (September 23, 2021). "Shocking Facts About Amy Lynn Bradley, The Woman Who Disappeared At Sea". Ranker. Archived from the original on July 3, 2019. Retrieved January 6, 2022.
  18. ^ a b "The Search for Natalee and Amy". Dr. Phil (TV series). November 17, 2005. Retrieved October 1, 2015.
  19. ^ a b Shelton, Jacob. "The Disappearance Of Amy Lynn Bradley: Everything We Know". History Daily. Archived from the original on August 30, 2020. Retrieved January 6, 2022.
  20. ^ "Wanted by the FBI: Missing Woman Amy Lynn Bradley". FBI. March 22, 2017. Retrieved September 5, 2017. Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  21. ^ a b "Amy Lynn Bradley". America's Most Wanted. Archived from the original on October 17, 2012. Retrieved July 12, 2012.
  22. ^ "Amy Lynn Bradley". amybradley.net. Retrieved July 12, 2012.
  23. ^ "MISSING: AMY LYNN BRADLEY". Crime Junkie Podcast. March 4, 2019. Retrieved March 5, 2019.
  24. ^ "The Disappearance of Amy Lynn Bradley". YouTube. Archived from the original on December 21, 2021. Retrieved May 27, 2021.
  25. ^ "Striking Similarities in Two Disappearances". ABC News. January 7, 2006. Retrieved October 1, 2015.
  26. ^ Van Zandt, Clint (November 17, 2005). "Why some say Natalee may still be alive". NBC News. Retrieved October 1, 2015.

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