Terry Jo Duperrault, 11, was just hours away from death after drifting alone in the open sea for four whole days. She was parched, her skin covered in salt. 

She drifted in and out of consciousness while reclining on a three-foot cork raft that was slowly disintegrating. When Nicolaos Spachidakis saw the little girl, he could hardly believe his own eyes. 

Saving Duperrault

Spachidakis was the second officer of the Greek Freighter, Captain Theo, where he had been scanning the waters of a strait near the islands of the Bahamas when he spotted what seemed like a dancing whitecap in the distance

He realized the single, white dot was too small to be a boat and far too large to be debris. He alerted the captain, who plotted a collision course for the mysterious speck. When they stopped beside it, they discovered a young girl floating by herself in a small lifeboat. 

The crew quickly gets her aboard their freighter. Terry Jo tells them her name and that she's the sole survivor of a sailboat called Bluebelle. She quickly loses consciousness.

However, after she wakes up, she recounts the most bizarre and devastating story of what happened aboard the Bluebelle.

The Duperrault Family

On November 8, 1961, prominent optometrist Dr. Arthur Duperrault and his family decided to go on a trip from Fort Lauderdale to the Bahamas on their sailboat Bluebelle. They were accompanied by hired airforce veteran and skipper Julian Harvey and his sixth wife, Mary. 

Terry Jo and her family spent a week in the Bahamas. There, they learned snorkeling and spearfishing through crystalline waters. They explored uninhabited islands and dined on the freshest seafood with the locals. 

The Bluebelle began its voyage home to Florida on November 12. Terry Jo went to the small cabin below deck. The rest of her family stayed in the cockpit. 

The Murder

At around 11 in the evening, Terry Jo woke up after hearing screams from the upper deck. She could hear her brother, begging for help. She also heard sounds of running and heavy footfalls. 

Paralyzed with fear, she decided to stay in her bed for countless minutes. Terry Jo tried to work up the courage to see what was happening. 

When she finally decided to open the door, she found her mother and brother dead. They were lying in a pool of blood. She ascended to the deck where she saw their captain, Julian Harvey heading towards her. 

Harvey held a rifle in his hands, scaring the little girl. After a few moments, he turned and left. Terry Jo noticed water cresting below deck: the boat is sinking. 

Harvey dived into the ocean and swam for his escape vehicle, the dinghy, leaving Terry Jo aboard and alone.

Harvey's Account

Harvey's dinghy was found by a freighter, the Gulf Lion. The crew members immediately brought the skipper to the U.S. Coast Guard. During the investigation, he claimed the Bluebelle's masts broke, puncturing the ship's hull and rupturing the gas tank, leading to a fire. 

He brought along the dead body of Terry Jo's sister. He claimed he saw her floating face down in the water and tried to revive her to no avail. Something about his story felt off, but nobody ever questioned his account. 

The coast guard conducted an extensive search on air and in the sea. They covered over 5,000 miles, but they found nothing. 

The Skipper

Harvey was a competent WWII bomber pilot. He had previously served in the Korean War and managed to pull off a high-risk test flight. However, he was periodically noted for ditching missions due to "engine failure." 

Harvey also had multiple wives-six, to be exact. Until Mary, he had a habit of courting, rapidly marrying, and then dumping his partners. He would always say he felt no affection for them anymore. 

The bomber pilot was previously entangled in a dark mystery that was never resolved. In 1949, he, his third wife, and his mother-in-law were driving back home from a night at the movies. By his account, the car suddenly swerved on a bridge and rolled over into the waters below. Harvey was the lone survivor in the incident. 

When locals offered to help find the two victims, the pilot appeared to be very calm. He also boasted about jumping out of the car in mid-air. His wife and mother-in-law were never found. He later claimed his wife's life insurance policy. 


The Coast Guard later informed Harvey of Terry Jo's rescue. He left the interrogation room and checked into a nearby motel under a false name. 

On November 17, a maid at the motel discovered Harvey's dead body and a hasty note to a friend. He slashed himself with a double-edged razor blade. 

The murder, it would seem, was done so he could collect $20,000 after Mary's death. Many said he killed the Duperrault family to prevent any witnesses.

To this day, no one knows for sure why Harvey let Terry Jo live. Some speculate he wanted to be caught. Others claimed he probably never expected her to survive. 

Terry Jo, who changed her name to Tere Fassbender, went on to work at the Department of Natural Resources in the fisheries department. She also worked in the Water Resources and Water Regulation and Zoning. 

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