Have you ever taken a cruise? For many families, spending a week at sea aboard a ship, whether it be a gigantic cruise liner or a private yacht, is a wonderful way to relax, let loose, and blow off some steam with your family and friends. For the Duperrault family, however, their luxurious vacation turned into an absolute nightmare. Over fifty years later, a member of the family is prepared to tell their story.
Keep reading to learn more about the shocking and absolutely TERRIFYING story of Terry Jo Duperrault. Be forewarned, though — slide 4 will have you thinking twice before taking that cruise you’ve been saving up for!
#12 The Duperrault Family
Dr. Arthur Dupperault and his wife Jean were the happy parents of Brian, 14, Terry Jo, 11, and Renee, 7. They made their home in Green Bay, Wisconsin, where Arthur was an eye surgeon. Of course, midwestern winters are chilly, so they decided to take a bit of a vacation down south…
#11 The Vacation Of A Lifetime?
The family chartered a 60-foot yacht known as the “Bluebell.” The captain, Julian Harvey, and his wife, Mary Dene, planned to guide the Duperraults on a weeklong exploration of the islands in the Bahamas. And that’s exactly what they did! For four days, at least… What happened next would not be revealed for decades.
#10 What’s That In The Water?
On the day the Duperrault’s vacation was supposed to end, Captain Harvey arrived on Miami Beach in a dinghy. He reported that his ship had capsized in a storm and that he was the only survivor. A few weeks later, though, a merchant ship in the Atlantic Ocean noticed something strange floating in the water.
#9 The World Watches
The trade boat pulled up to the floating object and discovered that it was none other than Terry Jo Duperrault! They were SHOCKED, as everyone assumed the entire Dupperault family was dead. She was rushed to a Miami, Florida hospital for medical care. Meanwhile, the captain began speaking to the media about what a “miracle” her discovery was.
#8 A Total Mad Dash
At the hospital, doctors and nurses scrambled around the clock to care for Terri Jo. She was running a fever of 105 degrees, suffered from severe dehydration, and was completely emaciated. Still, she grew strong by the day. Eventually, she was feeling well enough to tell the truth about what really happened.
Terri Jo agreed to talk to hospital social workers about what happened, so long as they didn’t report any of it to the media. With that promise, she revealed that, on the fourth night of the trip, she went to bed early. She woke up several hours later to her brother screaming, and walked onto the ship’s deck to find her entire family lying in a puddle of their own blood.
#6 Time To Talk
Captain Harvey had murdered his wife and most of the Duperrault family during the night. Terry Jo was only spared because she was peacefully sleeping downstairs. However, as soon as the Captain realized that he had forgotten to end her life, he threw her overboard. By a stroke of luck, she was able to untie an emergency life raft from the side of the yacht before the Captain climbed in a dinghy, lit his ship on fire, and sailed towards shore — leaving her to die.
#5 The Road To Recovery
Terry Jo got stronger and stronger everyday. She began to work with a lawyer to prepare a case against Captain Harvey, and gained some hope that he would one day face justice for his horrible crime. However, this dream was cut short just a few short weeks before the man was set to be arrested and tried for murder…
#4 A Suicide
Knowing that his arrest was imminent, Captain Harvey committed suicide in the woods behind his home. Terry Jo was still receiving medical care in the hospital, so she never had the chance to face the man who made her an orphan and almost took her life. Still, she managed to find a bit of closure…
#3 Laying Them To Rest
Several months after she was rescued from sea, Terry Jo returned to Wisconsin to live with her aunt. She laid her family to rest in a private ceremony, and returned to elementary school the very next day. She didn’t talk about what had happened to her, leaving her friends to wonder what had really happened on vacation…
#2 Speaking Up
In 2012, Terry Jo Duperrault, now known as Tere Duperrault Fassbender, began to tell her story on the international stage. She appeared in several television specials, and has said that being able to talk about her struggles to so many people around the world was an important part of her healing process.
#1 Therapeutic Writing
As Terry Jo began to emotionally heal from her experiences, she turned to writing as a way to cope. She penned “Alone: Orphaned At Sea,” with psychologist Dr. Richard Logan. She also tours the country speaking about her experiences and has made appearances on several news programs. We’re glad she’s been able to make a complete recovery!
Of course, most cruise vacations don’t have the same shocking ending that the Duperrault family experienced, but it’s still definitely shocking enough for us to take notice! We can only imagine the emotional pain that young Terry Jo went through in the aftermath of losing her entire family and being lost at sea. Fortunately, she seems to be living a happy and healthy life these days. Rumor has it that she even enjoys spending time at the beach!
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