The Jo Duperrault Story That Shocked the World

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The terrifying story started on an autumn day in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. On November 8th, 1961, Arthur, Jean, Brian, Renee and Terry Jo had dreamed of sailing to the Bahamas, and so decided to charter a boat and sail all the way there. They were with Captain Julian Harvey and his wife, Mary Dene. It was, however, unknown to them that someone on board had a more sinister plan and that not all of them aboard the Bluebelle would make it alive .

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The family had never expected that anything would happen that night. Indeed, who would expect a well planned family trip to turn into a horrific crime scene? Everyone was enjoying the ride home after the trip.

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On the evening of November 12th, 1961, Terry Jo had her sleep cut short when Brian, her brother, screamed for help. The screaming stopped suddenly. Terry Jo reached her brother and discovered something horrible.

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It was upstairs that Terry Jo found her mother and her brother swimming in their own blood. Panicked, she desperately kept searching for answers as to what happened to them.

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Terry Jo slowly approached the Captain who was busy undertaking a plan that he had conceived right before the night of horror… Looks can be deceiving. Indeed, the Captain didn’t look like an evil man… However…

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As Terry Jo came to him in panic, he pushed her down the stairs and opened the sea valves.

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In seconds, Terry Jo found herself trapped in a cabin that was filling with water! Horrifying events were about to unravel next, for the 11 year old girl…

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Terry Jo managed to make her way up to the deck. She saw the captain lowering a dinghy into the water and looking for an escape. He told Terry Jo to help him hold the dinghy for his escape, but knowing what the Captain had done, she bravely let the raft go. The captain then dove into the waters to catch up with it… In a last effort, the Captain manage to climb onto the dinghy looking back at Terry Jo, alone on the sinking ship.

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Terry Jo managed to unfasten a small life raft and jumped into it at the last minute. The girl had made it out of the sinking boat! However, the nightmare didn’t stop there for the poor Terry Jo, as she found herself alone in the middle of the ocean with nothing to eat or drink…

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Terry Jo was left at nature’s mercy,  the sun was biting her skin causing it to crack and burn, the thirst and hunger slowly drained her of her remaining strengths.

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The captain was rescued the following day. He was found with Renee’s inert body, Terry Jo’s 7 years old’s sister, and told the investigators a story far from the truth.

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He claimed a violent storm had torn down the masts of the boat and punctured the vessel’s hull causing it to sink. He added that the gas tanks had been ruptured, caused a fire, and that he was the only survivor. As for Renee’s body, he claimed having found her floating and unsuccesfully tried to resuscitate her. Autopsy later revealed that Renee had drowned. However, the investigators were suspicious of the captain’s story, but had unfortunately no other way to find out the truth.

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Terry Jo was alone on the vast salty expanse. A small aircraft passed, but its crew missed her… The chances that anyone would ever find her were slimming down by the hour.

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But not all hope was lost!! Captain Theo arrived at last and found her.

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Four days after the boat had sunk, Captain Theo of the Northwest Providence Channel found her floating on her small raft. The 11 year old girl was dying, dehydrated, sunburned with a 105-degree fever. She lost consciousness straight after telling the Captain her name.

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They rushed her to the Miami hosptial to save her life and didn’t give up despite her bad condition.

News about her rescue spread and it reached Captain Harvey.

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He checked into a motel under a different name as he knew his time was short.  Soon after, out of fear or maybe guilt, he took his life using a razor blade in the motel room bathroom.

Later, it was discovered that Captain Harvey had a sordid past – sunken boats, insurance fraud and maybe murder.

No one really knows what actually happened that night of the murders. One of the plausible theories was that the Captain needed money to overcome financial issues. His plan was probably to get rid of his wife and to claim her life insurance.

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No one could tell why he left someone alive. Maybe he assumed that she would sink with the boat…. Theories are countless.

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Terry Jo survived but needed recovery time. She was physically, mentally and emotionally devastated. For one as young as her, it was a miracle that she survived all of it. She was an orphan now.

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For 20 years, she stayed mute as to what happened to her.  The psychiatrists were of no help as their main focus was on the murders.

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However, while in her 30s, Terry Jo finally started speaking about it to a friend.  She sought counseling again and found out that it was losing her family, and not the violent crimes, that haunted her.

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 In 2010, she published the book: Alone: Orphaned on the Ocean. She considered its publication the final step in her healing.

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