Amy Bradley was on a weeklong family cruise to the Caribbean when, in the early hours of Tuesday, March 24, 1998, she vanished. Within a half-hour period, her family noticed she had disappeared, just as their ship, Rhapsody of the Seas, was getting ready to dock in Curaçao. After an extensive search of the ship, Amy’s family left to see if she had simply disembarked without telling them. She wasn’t in Curaçao, and she wasn’t on the ship. What happened to Amy Bradley? She wasn’t known to run away and wasn’t suicidal. She had a new job, a new home, and would never leave her family or pet bulldog.
Evidence soon emerged suggesting Amy had been kidnapped. But no one on board was talking. Amy Bradley, the 23-year-old all-American girl who graduated from Longwood University in Virginia with a degree in physical education, had vanished.
|About Amy Bradley|
|Birth||May 12, 1974 Petersburg, Virginia|
|Parents||Ron Bradley, Iva Bradley|
According to her family, someone saw her, wanted her, and took her. There have been some very credible sightings of Amy since she disappeared, but no one has been able to verify those claims or track her down.
Keep reading this Amy Bradley wiki to find out the latest information on her mysterious disappearance.
Details on Amy Bradley
Missing Since: 03/24/1998
Missing From: Caribbean cruise aboard the Rhapsody of the Seas
Born: May 12, 1974
Place of Birth: Petersburg, Virginia
Height: 5’ 6”
Weight: 120 pounds
Hair: Short brown
Distinguishing Characteristics: Bradley has the following tattoos: a Tasmanian Devil character spinning a basketball on her shoulder, the sun on her lower back, a Chinese symbol on her right ankle, and a gecko lizard on her navel. She also has a navel ring.
A $250,000 reward is offered to anyone who provides information leading to the safe return of Amy Lynn Bradley. A reward of $50,000 is offered for information leading to her verifiable location. The FBI is also offering a reward of up to $25,000.
You can also submit an anonymous tip online.
Amy Bradley’s Father Won a Cruise
In 1998, Amy’s father Ron Bradley, an insurance executive, won a trip—a Caribbean cruise. Despite being a vivacious, outgoing, take-charge kind of person, who also happened to be a swim coach, Amy was a little apprehensive about going on the cruise on the wide, open ocean. But spending time with her family was not something she wanted to give up.
On Saturday, March 21, Amy Bradley, her brother Brad, and parents Ron and Iva Bradley left for a weeklong Caribbean cruise aboard the Rhapsody of the Seas.
According to Iva, when the four of them boarded the Rhapsody of the Seas, she noticed almost immediately that other passengers and crew were paying a lot of attention to their young, attractive daughter. “I remember watching people watch her admiringly,” she said, “I felt proud.”
After dinner, a waiter came out of the dining room and asked Iva where Amy was. She asked him why. “Well, we want to take her to Carlos ‘n Charlie’s,” he replied.
Ron added that he thought the waiter was being a little too forward.
When Amy got back, Ron told her that the waiter wanted to take her out with his friends when the ship docked in Aruba.
“And then Amy looked at me and said, ‘They’re creepy. And I’m not going anywhere with them.’”
For the record, Carlos ‘n Charlie’s was the same bar where Alabama teen Natalee Holloway would disappear from years later, in 2005.
Iva also noticed a bass player, Alister Douglas, who played in the live band Blue Orchid. He went by the name “Yellow” and was, she said, “a very unsavory-looking character.”
Amy had confided in her brother Brad that Douglas had been hitting on her, but, she said, “he was a real jerk.”
Port of Call
The first three days went smoothly.
On the morning of Monday, March 23, the Bradley family disembarked the ship to explore Oranjestad, Aruba—their first port of call. Before leaving, they marked the occasion with a family photo.
The family returned to the ship after a day visiting Oranjestad and had dinner, followed by a calypso party on the upper deck. Amy and her brother participated in the limbo contest, which Brad won. The siblings also had a formal picture taken.
At around 1:00 a.m., the ship headed into international waters for Curaçao, a small Dutch Caribbean island near Venezuela. Iva and Ron were exhausted and decided to call it a night at around 1:30 a.m. They retired to the eight-deck cabin the family shared.
Later that night, Amy and her brother danced at an onboard party. Brad recalled watching Amy dance with the band’s bass player, Douglas. A videographer who was producing an entertainment video for his client captured Amy and Douglas on camera dancing together.
After a night of dancing, Brad and Amy called it quits. The ship’s computerized door-lock system recorded Brad’s return to the suite at 3:35 a.m. Amy arrived back at their room five minutes later.
Brad said he and his sister sat on the suite’s balcony, chatted, and shared a cigarette. Brad told Amy he was feeling tired, said I love you, and went inside. Amy decided she wanted some more fresh air and stayed out on the balcony, relaxing on a lounge chair.
At around 5:30 a.m., as the ship was pulling into Curaçao, Ron woke up and checked in to see if his kids were sleeping. Brad was in bed, while Amy was on the balcony sleeping. He decided not to wake her.
About 20 minutes later, he woke up and looked in on his kids again; Brad was still asleep, but Amy was gone. She had left her shoes and taken her cigarettes and lighter.
“I knew right away something was up,” Ron said. “It was unlike Amy. It’s very unlike her to just leave and not let us know where she’s going.”
Ron hoped that Amy had simply gone up on deck to take some pictures or grab a coffee. He went up on deck expecting to find Amy, but again, she was nowhere to be found. For the next hour, he searched the ship’s common areas for Amy.
At about 7:00 a.m., he said, he ran into the ship’s security chief, Lou Costello, and alerted him. He then woke his wife.
Ship’s Captain Didn’t Want to “Alarm the Passengers”
The customer isn’t always right. For the Royal Caribbean International Cruise Line, it seems, the most important thing is ensuring their passengers are left in the dark. It also turns out the cruise line wasn’t entirely forthcoming with the truth about the search for Amy Bradley.
By 7:00 a.m., the ship was docking in Curaçao. The Bradleys pleaded with the ship’s officers not to lower the gangway until their daughter was found—but the gangway was lowered and 3,000 people left the ship.
At about lunchtime, Captain Kjetil Gjerstad told the family that Amy was not on board. He assured them, “We have searched every nook and cranny.”
Iva then asked Captain Gjerstad to distribute a picture of Amy to all passengers. He refused to pass out pictures of Amy Bradley.
”I cannot do that,” he allegedly said. ”I will not alarm the passengers.”
“My son was in a fetal position. Ron was vomiting blood, and I had no feeling in my arms,” she recalled.
By 5:00 p.m., the Bradleys had yet to find any sign of Amy.
Gjerstad suggested that Amy could have fallen overboard. The Bradleys were dubious. Amy had no issue lounging on a chair on the balcony, but she wouldn’t go near the railing.
If Amy didn’t fall over by mistake, what happened to her? The ship’s kind-hearted staff suggested maybe Amy had jumped off, committing suicide. That didn’t ring true to the Bradleys.
Amy’s family insists she had no reason to run off. She was planning a life back in Virginia, with a new job at a computer company her aunt and uncle owned and a new home. Amy had no history of running away and would never have abandoned her family or pet bulldog, Bailey.
The Bradleys Leave Ship to Search for Amy in Curaçao
Another crew member thought maybe Amy had disembarked in Curaçao. The family left the ship to look for Amy. But by then, all government offices were closed. There was nothing they could officially do. They then called the FBI, who informed them it would take at least 24 hours for them to get someone on the island.
With the ship ready to leave for its next port of call, the Bradleys, who had grown frustrated with the ship’s officers and a company lawyer, decided to stay behind and continue searching for Amy.
But was this the best move? According to the FBI, their decision to stay behind in Curaçao might have been the wrong one. They informed the Bradleys that they had spoken to those in charge on the ship, and it turned out that they didn’t conduct a thorough search.
Despite having full access to the entire ship, Captain Gjerstad had only instructed his staff to search the common areas—everywhere the Bradleys had searched, only after the fact.
While it appears to most as though Royal Caribbean fumbled the investigation at every turn, the company doesn’t see it that way. Royal Caribbean’s spokesperson at the time, Lynn Martenstein, said that the company had cooperated with investigators and did not believe foul play was involved.
But an internal Royal Caribbean report claimed that Ron Bradley did not notify Costello of Amy’s disappearance until 7:35 a.m. This contradicts the Bradleys’ account, as by that point, the ship had already docked and passengers were disembarking.
The report also said a cabin-by-cabin search was conducted almost immediately. Again, this is not true, according to the Bradley family.
Once Again, Royal Caribbean Is Less Than Forthcoming
Believing it was possible that Amy was still on board, the family and FBI raced to St. Thomas, the ship’s next destination, and confronted Captain Gjerstad.
On March 26, the FBI conducted an extensive search of the ship. Amy’s family continued their own search.
While scouring the ship, they were approached by two college-aged girls who claimed to have seen Amy with a band member. The women claimed that they saw Amy at around 5:45 a.m. on March 24, heading back to the ship’s nightclub with Alister Douglas, the Blue Orchid bass player.
Apparently, they came up the elevator, and when the doors opened, Amy and Douglas stepped into the disco. The last person Amy Bradley was seen alive with was Alister Douglas.
Disturbingly, Brad recalled an odd encounter he had with Douglas on the morning Amy vanished. He approached Brad and told him how sorry he was to hear about his sister. Strange, because the only people at that point to know that Amy had vanished was the ship’s captain and security team.
Evidence Points to a Conspiracy
The Bradleys told the FBI about the strange encounter, who then called the musician in to explain how he knew about Amy before anyone else. Not surprisingly, Alister Douglas changed his story—he claimed he knew nothing about the disappearance of Amy Bradley.
The FBI brought a polygraph on board and interviewed Douglas; there was not enough evidence to detain him.
Another mysterious incident arose, causing the Bradley family to become even more suspicious. Investigators discovered that the ship’s photo service, which takes and sells pictures of all its passengers, had somehow lost every single photo of Amy. Out of everyone on board, Amy’s photos were the only ones missing. A statistical impossibility.
It seems as though the pictures were taken about nine hours before Amy vanished. Meaning, no one had any way of finding out who it was Amy was spending time with while on board.
The circumstantial evidence was mounting. Bradley was a trained lifeguard and investigators said there was no evidence that she had fallen overboard or committed suicide. Alister Douglas’ behavior was certainly odd and the missing photos of Amy suggest her disappearance could be related to a kidnapping conspiracy.
Weeks after the cruise ended, the Bradleys hired private investigators to board the ship undercover. They did not find any evidence of Amy. The family also consulted psychics and offered a $260,000 reward.
Was Bradley a Victim of Foul Play?
Did Amy fall overboard by accident? Was foul play involved? Was Amy kidnapped by someone she encountered, or did she end up getting into a fight with someone? The family has received few valuable leads.
A Norwegian government inquiry (the ship is registered in Norway) found no sign of foul play. The FBI found marks on the ship’s balcony, which suggested that someone, at some point in time, had sat on it. Investigators say there is no evidence Amy fell overboard, was pushed, or committed suicide.
What about Yellow? Years later, Alister Douglas told CNN that Amy joined the band for a drink at the ship’s dance club after they had finished performing. He said he parted ways with Amy at around 1:00 a.m. He went to the staff elevator; she went in the other direction.
Despite the dead ends, the Bradleys remain optimistic. “We believe that our daughter is alive, but being held captive by someone.”
Possible Sightings of Amy Bradley
Is their hope misplaced? There is a fair bit of credible evidence to suggest that Amy Bradley is still alive and being held against her will.
One of the best leads came from David Carmichael, a Canadian computer engineer and avid scuba diver. He is certain he saw Amy with two men on a beach in Curaçao in August 1998—just five months after she disappeared.
She had two tattoos: one of a gecko and the other of a Tasmanian Devil. The woman walked towards Carmichael and stared at him, looking like she was about to say something.
“She looked frightened, like she was about to say something, when one of the guys motioned her away and gave me a menacing look,” Carmichael said.
He didn’t think much about the encounter until that December, when he saw a picture of Amy on America’s Most Wanted.
“I was stunned,” he said. Carmichael eventually flew to Virginia to meet the Bradleys. “I am haunted by that encounter with Amy. I know it was her.”
In a Brothel?
Carmichael is not the only person to think he saw Amy Bradley in Curaçao. A member of the U.S. Army believes he saw Amy at a local brothel in 1999. He says she told him her name was Amy Bradley and asked him for help.
He told Amy there was a Navy ship just five minutes down the road and she could go there to get help. She told him, “You don’t understand, I can’t leave. Help me. Please help me.” The sailor dismissed her pleas; perhaps because he didn’t know Amy was missing, and maybe because he wasn’t supposed to be visiting a brothel.
No matter what the reason, he didn’t report the incident and only contacted the Bradley family after he had retired and saw her picture on the cover of People magazine.
The brothel has since burned down and the sailor’s report has never been substantiated.
In 2005, a woman by the name of Judy Maurer claimed to have seen Amy Bradley in a department store restroom in Kingston, Barbados. She said a woman entered the restroom with three men. Maurer was in a stall and lifted her feet up onto the toilet to conceal herself; she had no idea what the men wanted or were going to do.
She overheard them threaten the woman if she didn’t follow through on “a deal.”
After the men left, Maurer left the stall and approached the distraught woman. When asked what her name was, the woman whispered, “Amy” and said she was from Virginia. Before Maurer could ask her more questions, the men came back into the bathroom and took her.
Maurer contacted authorities, who created composite sketches of the three men as well as the woman suspected to be Bradley.
November 17, 2005—Bradleys Appear on Dr. Phil
In 2005, the Bradleys received an anonymous e-mail that contained a photo of a woman lying on a bed in her underwear. The person in the image, taken from an adult web site, bears a striking resemblance to Amy Bradley.
Ron and Iva appeared on the Dr. Phil show in 2005; the talk show host showed the picture to his millions of viewers. It was the first lead the family had in nearly eight years. Dr. Phil went on to say that top forensic artists had looked at the picture and said it was possible it was of Amy.
“I’ll tell you what. Why don’t we go through the features that the experts have picked out? Now first we want to look at the cheekbones here. And what they do is they measure things that don’t change in time,” he said.
Dr. Phil pointed out similarities in her cheekbones, her hairline, her chin, and even a mark that Iva pointed out: a freckle below her eye.
“Do you believe that could be your daughter?” Dr. Phil asked.
“I believe it could be Amy,” she replied.
A Victim of “White Slavery”?
Is Amy Bradley a victim of so-called white slavery? A number of news reports and accounts from people visiting certain Caribbean islands suggest that some bartenders or patrons of bars use “date rape drugs” such as GHB and Rohypnol.
They either take advantage of the unconscious women, largely of European descent, or kidnap and transport them as victims of white sexual slavery. This is not to suggest this only happens in the Caribbean, since cases of unsuspecting women ingesting date rape drugs occur all over the world. But it does suggest that, given these drugs are available in the Caribbean, it is possible. And it could have happened to Amy Bradley.
Victims of white slavery are often forced into prostitution, pornography, and sex shows. In addition to operating on the streets, sex trafficking takes place underground, in private brothels that operate out of homes, through word of mouth, and online.
Bradleys Not Giving up Hope
There are many explanations for what might have happened to Amy. The most obvious is that she was murdered and thrown overboard while on the cruise ship. This is certainly a plausible scenario, but most of the evidence points to Amy being kidnapped and, until recently, still alive.
FBI Releases New Public Service Video
In March 2017, the FBI released a public service video updating the facts surrounding Amy Bradley’s disappearance, along with an appeal for information concerning Amy’s whereabouts.