3 prison escapees charged with murder after U.S. couple vanishes while sailing in Grenada

Three escaped inmates from the eastern Caribbean island of Grenada were charged in the killing of a U.S. couple whose catamaran they hijacked, police said Thursday.

Ron Mitchell, a 30-year-old sailor; Atiba Stanislaus, a 25-year-old farmer; and Trevon Robertson, a 23-year-old unemployed man, were charged with capital murder, escaping lawful custody, housebreaking, robbery and kidnapping. Stanislaus also was charged with one count of rape, according to a statement from the Royal Grenada Police Force.

St. Vincent Grenada Hijacked Yacht
The yacht “Simplicity,” which officials say was hijacked by three escaped prisoners with two people on board, is seen docked in Calliaqua, St. Vincent, Feb. 23, 2024.

Kenton X. Chance/AP

The men appeared in court on Thursday and were ordered held in prison until their hearing in late March.

They were accused of escaping from a police holding cell on Feb. 18 and hijacking a catamaran owned by Ralph Hendry and Kathy Brandel while they were aboard. Authorities said they believe the couple was thrown overboard as the suspects sailed to nearby St. Vincent, where they were arrested on Feb. 21.

The three men were ordered deported from St. Vincent on Monday.

The nonprofit Salty Dawg Sailing Association described Hendry and Brandel as “veteran cruisers” who participated in last year’s Caribbean Rally from Hampton, Virginia, to Antigua, and had planned to spend the winter cruising in the eastern Caribbean.

Their bodies have not been found.

“Warm-hearted and capable” sailors

Hendry and Brandel sailed the eastern coast of the U.S., living on their yacht, “making friends with everyone they encountered, singing, dancing and laughing with friends and family,” the couple’s family said in a statement last week.

“We would like to say a few words about Kathy and Ralph that we wish all to know,” the family said. “We live in a world that at times can be cruel, but it’s also a world of profound beauty, wonder, adventure, love, compassion, caring, and faith. Our parents encompassed all those values and so much more. If we have learned anything from this tragic event, it’s that we know they left this world in a better place than it was before they were born.”

The Salty Dawg Sailing Association said Brandel and Hendry were “warm-hearted and capable” members and noted that Brandel served on the association’s board for two years.

A GoFundMe donation page stated that Brandel had become a first-time grandmother. The page had raised over $75,000 as of Friday.

Ralph Hendry and Kathy Brandel 


“It’s just really sad,” said longtime friend K.C. McAlpin, who added that Brandel and Hendry had planned to make this their “last grand trip” on Simplicity.

McAlpin said the couple always made friends easily and he hoped they would be remembered for their big hearts.

“They were just a delightful couple and a real blessing in my life, and the lives of so many other people,” he said.

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