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Old July 8th, 2014, 04:01 PM
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Default George Smith Case revisited

Murder at Sea? - CBS News

You know the focus on this case has always been between the Russian kids and George's bride, who took a $1million settlement from RCI and then tried to move on.

According to Maritime law she was the only relative eligible to receive any compensation, but only because she had married George a couple of weeks prior to the incident.

So - do we have any new clues as to what happened? No, just the same old ones. CBS' 48 hours is revisiting the case, but the show largely focuses on only the Smith families allegations, not the fact that the FBI with the assistance of Jennifer completely reviewed the case and filed no charges against anyone.

The show tries to infer that the videotapes (which have always been in possession of the FBI) reveal much more than the public has been told - but never does the show say that both the primary FBI investigation and Jennifer say that there was nothing nefarious going on - that is was likely an accident.

Of course, we do not know and there is no proof either way. At best, it seems the Smiths can hope that some judge or FBI agent will come to a different theory - but as to whether there is a smoking gun out there - well, all the evidence has already been seen.

It is too bad for the Smith family, who lost their son. It is also too bad that they received no compensation for that while Jennifer did (not to say that money is the most important factor here), but it is frustrating.

There is a lot to the story that is not revealed in this CBS piece however, that seems to only serve to stir the pot and not actually give us a true picture - like the fact that George was drinking a lot, and apparently on prescription pills. That he was very drunk that night. That the "blood" on the bed was determined to be cosmetics by other investigators, that the Smiths tried to sue Jennifer for part of the settlement, but did not get any money, but that they did get access to all evidence in possession by Royal Caribbean and the FBI.

There is also the fact that the famous forensic expert (Henry Lee, I believe) who worked the O.J. Simpson case also looked deeply into this case and said he could not find anything conclusive.

Like I said - a lot is left out of this documentary.
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Old July 8th, 2014, 05:30 PM
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I caught a portion of this show. At first I thought it was a repeat of the original show about the case which discussed the possible involvement of the "Russians". The original had left me with the feeling there were just too many unanswered questions to have any strong opinion of their involvement one way or the other.

But, after watching this update, I was certainly left with the feeling that these guys were definitely involved. It is fair to say that this couple was probably falling down drunk, and apparently spoke loudly ( overheard by more than one) about how many thousand $$s they had in their safe. I doubt the wife was involved ( or even has a clue what happened ) as she was put into an elevator by staff, apparently got off on the wrong floor and was found passed out in the hall, right around the time they estimated George went over the railing. Too bad they did not escort her all the way back to her cabin, or this story might have had a different outcome.

The guys admit they were in the cabin. Their stories about ordering room service are not backed up by the ship's records. People in adjoining cabins heard something unusual going on. They say they left him in bed. People who are falling down drunk pass out, just like the wife did. I don't think he suddenly woke up and decided to balance on the deck railing in the middle of the night. If he HAD gotten up, it would have been to go out and search for his wife, if anything. I think the guys put him to bed after some additional partying in the cabin, and then tried to find the money. George woke up, a fight broke out and they manhandled him over the rail. Unfortunately there is no hard evidence to back any of this up. These are not nice clean cut young men. One of them is in prison now. Eventually, I think one of them will talk, maybe to save their own skin, or maybe just because they are stupid punks who think their buddy in the next cell will never tell.

This case reminds me of the Natalie Halloway case down in Aruba. A few nice boys take a girl (who has probably had way more to drink than she can handle) to the beach and then (they say) they drop her off back at the bar. Why, one of them was even a judge's son! No way could they have been involved in her disappearance. And there is still no evidence that they were, and probably never will be. But after the judge's son murdered another girl and was caught red handed, it seems pretty obvious that they were involved. Sometimes the simplest explanation is the correct one.
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Old July 8th, 2014, 07:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Travelbuggs View Post
I caught a portion of this show. At first I thought it was a repeat of the original show about the case which discussed the possible involvement of the "Russians". The original had left me with the feeling there were just too many unanswered questions to have any strong opinion of their involvement one way or the other.

But, after watching this update, I was certainly left with the feeling that these guys were definitely involved. It is fair to say that this couple was probably falling down drunk, and apparently spoke loudly ( overheard by more than one) about how many thousand $$s they had in their safe. I doubt the wife was involved ( or even has a clue what happened ) as she was put into an elevator by staff, apparently got off on the wrong floor and was found passed out in the hall, right around the time they estimated George went over the railing. Too bad they did not escort her all the way back to her cabin, or this story might have had a different outcome.

The guys admit they were in the cabin. Their stories about ordering room service are not backed up by the ship's records. People in adjoining cabins heard something unusual going on. They say they left him in bed. People who are falling down drunk pass out, just like the wife did. I don't think he suddenly woke up and decided to balance on the deck railing in the middle of the night. If he HAD gotten up, it would have been to go out and search for his wife, if anything. I think the guys put him to bed after some additional partying in the cabin, and then tried to find the money. George woke up, a fight broke out and they manhandled him over the rail. Unfortunately there is no hard evidence to back any of this up. These are not nice clean cut young men. One of them is in prison now. Eventually, I think one of them will talk, maybe to save their own skin, or maybe just because they are stupid punks who think their buddy in the next cell will never tell.

This case reminds me of the Natalie Halloway case down in Aruba. A few nice boys take a girl (who has probably had way more to drink than she can handle) to the beach and then (they say) they drop her off back at the bar. Why, one of them was even a judge's son! No way could they have been involved in her disappearance. And there is still no evidence that they were, and probably never will be. But after the judge's son murdered another girl and was caught red handed, it seems pretty obvious that they were involved. Sometimes the simplest explanation is the correct one.
Hi Buggs - thank you for the comments and I will say your gut feeling has not been ruled out. I did not know one of them is in prison. If so, this is a case where he could possibly plead some time off his sentence.

In any case, I think the documentary leaves some holes but I actually some of the court transcripts so there is not much I don't know about the case. Of course, it all boils down to the word of the Russians, and who knows how good that is....?

But a couple of things. Their cabin was a mess all the time, she called it "lived in." I guess they did brag about having money in the cabin, I had never heard that angle before.

As far as I know the room service record is accurate, what it does not do is account for everyone during the time George went missing. Here is what seems important to me, if one guy did supposedly hide in the bathroom (that is the alleged murder scenario) then did he just sneaked out and what? they really did not find any blood in the stateroom, according to Jennifer's courtroom testimony the red stuff on the bed was makeup. A LOT of people looked for blood in the room, and this is the first report where I definitively heard it reported there was factually blood anywhere but the overhang.

So, assume a guy comes out of the bathroom to steal the money. George wakes up. He doesn't say anything? We assume a fight broke out at 4:30 in the morning which both neighbors heard, but not a single word was spoken, even on the balcony?

If george was forced over the balcony isn't that here the worst struggle would have occurred? How do you get a 180 lb man over a 54-inch balcony railing against his will? remember NO blood was found anywhere, but even if we allow the stains on the bed as blood, how would George be put over the side without being bludgeoned, stabbed, shot or something?

Also - wouldn't someone have heard the murderer leave? Both neighbors heard the noises. Wouldn't they hear the door?

Now - George was very very drunk and despondent. Isn't it possible he put a chair up against the railing, took a step up and sat on the railing to smoke a cigarette? He had just spent 5 minutes looking for something missing (apparently). It would be good to know if either Jen or George lost a lot of money that night, or if she took a lot with her when she left, or indeed if money was missing. In any case, she did not report any money missing.

I am sure George was a little upset his wife was missing. BTW: she was found passed out but she was taken back to her stateroom at about 5:20 in a wheel chair. They saw it was a mess, but it had been the whole trip. They did not look outside. The balcony door was not open (or I assume they would have closed it).

Anyway - George was already gone by then. Those Russian kids were bad people, no doubt. But I just don't see the proof of a crime, just a lot of circumstantial evidence - but not enough.

BTW: here are many transcripts of many interviews with them: George Smith IV 26' - Crimeshotsİ True Crime Forums
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Old July 8th, 2014, 08:25 PM
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The show did state both George and his wife were very drunk. It also made mention that both neighbors heard a struggle and one of the neighbors saw 3 men walk out of the Smiths' room. One of the Russian guys was/is in jail on drug charges. It would make sense they tried to rob George and threw him overboard. Apparently everyone knew they kept money in their room. As for the room service, they stated they could not locate a room service order for that room. Assuming the episode was accurate, then you're left with motive and no alibi.
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Old July 9th, 2014, 12:31 PM
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Once again, I think other sources will show the room service record is there. This show is the first I have ever heard anyone say the room service was not there. I think they were trying to infer the room service record did not account for their whereabouts when George went missing - but they did have room service - but after they left his room. Also - room service is not proof of how many people were in the room.

I just think it is always easy these days to go to "a crime occurred" as the default thought process, because we live in that kind of media culture, but really, even if they wanted to rob him, why would they have to kill him?

I think those kids were "bad-ass" and maybe they did it, but I just don't have that "it's a certainty" feeling about this.

Remember, the show relied heavily of two things - lie detector tests, and that fact that Josh pleaded the fifth - neither of those things are allowed as proof of guilt - but it seemed to be the strongest thing the show had to go on.
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Old July 9th, 2014, 05:14 PM
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I think one of the few things we know for sure is that George was extremely drunk. The group has admitted they returned with George to his room to continue the party. Reports from neighbors indicate that they heard "party sounds" from the cabin at around this time ( possible drinking games ) and it would not surprise me at all if George passed out at some point. I don't know why you assume there was only one person in the cabin who hid in the bathroom? If George is passed out, the group can go through their things at leisure, although the safe would presumably be where the money was and would probably be locked. I guess it is possible that at some point they tried to coerce him to open the safe and that this is when the death occurred. They may have given him a severe blow to the head and decided to make him "disappear" to stay out of trouble. OR, at some point during their search of the cabin, George woke up and discovered what they were up to, strongly objected and the group was able to subdue him as there were, was it 4 of them ?, against 1 completely inebriated George. This was the second set of noises the neighbors heard. Whether it was voices or just a ruckus or both I have no idea.

I think that once they either badly injured him or were caught going through their things, they knew they were probably facing charges, or at the very least, would be thrown off the ship and decided just to give him the heave ho and hope for the best. When questioned by authorities, they claimed they had room service before leaving the room, and the phone records did show calls placed TO the Room Service number at that time, more than one, but strangely, Room Service records had NO order ever being placed or delivered to the cabin at the time. They actually showed the phone records on the show. So they called the number several times but spoke to no one. So why are they claiming they had room service there if not to make it appear that everything was fine before they left the cabin.

As far as George being despondent, he was a newlywed, on his honeymoon, having presumably a great time. Not plausible to me that he would choose to go over the rail, or even that it was accidental. The show discussed the guy who is in prison. Also discussed on the show was the alleged gang rape of someone, I don't recall if this same cruise or another, by these same guys. She was also very inebriated, and they actually videoed the event. The sleazy lawyer of course said it was consensual. She tried to press charges in port, and of course they claimed to have no jurisdiction over a foreign flagged ship.

These are very bad guys indeed, and if nothing else this is a very cautionary tale for any cruiser. Folks are very trusting, especially young ones. Bring alcohol into the mix and bad things sometimes happen. And if a crime does occur, there will be no forensics or crime scene preservation, or on the spot investigation. Weren't they hosing the blood off the overhang right away? You will be put off the ship, and the ship will sail at the scheduled time.
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Old July 9th, 2014, 06:03 PM
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Just one thing Buggs - three of the guys were seen leaving his room before the two or three minutes of "heavy thuds" like someone moving furniture but no conversation. Now, it is very conceivable the guy looking out the door was not sure it was just three - (we don't know, but I would think he would NOT be looking right after they left the room, because that would be seen as an encounter. My guess is he looked when they were pretty far down the hall. But I don't know.

There are stories from all four that they put George to bed, took his shoes off and he was very grateful, even kissing a couple of them. These are not details they would likely agree to make make up before being interrogated - especially since one of them was not a Russian, he was an outsider who didn't have time to plan the alibi before he was questioned. The Russians seem to want to finger him as the one who stayed behind, and he pleaded the fifth. But it was the Russians who were later heard "bragging and boasting" - who committed the sexual assault and who were put off the ship, but they were seen leaving george's room before the heavy thud and other sounds in the room (but no audible conversation)

MAYBE George was dead drunk and the fourth guy did somehow get him outside and over the rail, but he was a big guy, and dead weight at that point if he was passed out. That would be VERY hard to do. Plus, if he was being assaulted, would he cry out for help. Maybe he was unconscious, and the guy threw him over. But I don;t think he was bludgeoned, etc. All the blood was on the overhang, which infers that was where the injury happened. If he really fell, or was thrown overboard he probably hit it headfirst and cracked his skull.

So, all I am saying is that while it looks suspicious in many ways, there is no plausible story line for making it a crime. Every crime scenario leads to holes in logic.

Meanwhile - in truth suicide is far more common than murder, and people who sit on railings do fall off of ships accidentally, so in many ways when everything is considered that comes up as the most plausible event.

We have a very, very drunk groom on his honeymoon with a missing wife last seen with another man wooing her. The groom who had been around the ship looking for her and was unsuccessful, was suddenly left alone with nothing to do but kill time until she reappeared, possibly getting more drunk & angry with every minute.

Plus, here is a picture of the FBI looking at the balcony and note the placement of the chair: looks like it could have been set for one guy to step up and sit on the railing. But I don't see how one guy (who hid in the bathroom) could have coerced George over the railing - with NO words at all and no reports of a scuffle out there just before the heavy thud.

This is just my feeling as I look at the facts I know. Plus there is also the fact that Jennifer, the FBI, Turkish police, Dr Henry Lee and others all said that they just couldn't find any evidence of a murder, even though they tried.

Sad and tragic - yes. But in a way I feel just as bad for the families who can't let go - even though nothing will bring George back. To me they seem to be egged on in their misery by people who really just want to tarnish the cruise industry by "proving" ships are "dangerous."

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Old July 9th, 2014, 08:51 PM
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You are right, probably not enough evidence to "prove" anything one way or another or else charges would have already been brought. But did anyone really look for any evidence immediately after the fact, when evidence could possiblly have been found? You have to agree that the investigation which takes place after a crime on a cruise ship is not like it would be if it happened here in the states. The local authorities do not get involved as they have no jurisdiction. The cruise line certainly does not want to investigate anything. They just want to clean up the mess, not disturb the passengers, and it is not their problem. There was no crime scene preservation, no collection of evidence from the room, no one was held for questioning I don't believe. There was no grilling of each individual who was in that room that night. Plenty of time for them to get their stories straight. It would not surprise me if they did not have some unsuspecting cruiser in that cabin on the very next cruise. It was probably weeks or months before they interviewed anyone in nearby cabins. I believe one person in a nearby cabin actually contacted the FBI himself to report what he'd heard. When the forensic expert Henry Lee came on board, it was weeks if not months after the fact. What are they going to find at that point? And they don't have a body to examine.

But I wonder why the neighbor was looking out his door in the middle of the night anyway at just the time those guys left. I don't generally hear my neighbors door when they come and go. But, he must have heard some sort of disturbance in order for him to want to get out of bed and look out the door in time to see these guys going down the hall. Those guys could have hightailed it out of there leaving the last guy to get him over the rail. Drag him out to the balcony. Get him into a sitting position, either on the deck or in the chair. From the chair lift him to a standing position long enough to drape his head, upper torso and arms over the rail. Pick up the feet and the body goes over.

I am hopeful that eventually enough evidence will be found. Some cases take years to solve. I think someone will eventually talk. I probably watch way too many of those true crime type shows before I fall asleep.
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Old July 10th, 2014, 03:32 PM
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First off I applaud his parents for digging deeper and not for just chalking it off as an accident. I'm sure we don't know every detail or as much as his parents do and there's something that just does add up for them. I also wonder if there will ever be enough proof to convince them it was an accident if indeed this is what it was. I think its good to have fresh eyes looking at the case because things are easily misses at times.


I don't feel the wife had any involvement in his death as she was just too drunk to know what was going on. I do have suspicions with the four men especially after reading that they have one of the men on video stating "they gave a paragliding lesson and that I told him we were gangster", in my book if this is true people need to dig a little deeper.


Whatever is discovered or ruled I hope George Smith's parents find some type of peace .
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Old July 10th, 2014, 05:05 PM
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Buggs - you are right. It is my understanding the FBI was there within three or four days, but RC had already cleaned up the room by then. The Turkish authorities were there the next day, but they had strong suspicions about Jennifer and seemed to already have felt it was practically solved. That is largely because all the details about the 3 Russians and the 20 yo from San Diego did not come out until later.

I will repeat, though, that like so many sensationalist TV shows, there is a LOT more information available out there that this show did not represent.

There is a 150-page transcript from an appeal where George's parents sued Jennifer for a part of the settlement money, lost and then appealed (they put her through a lot, and in a way rightfully so considering her "behavior" - although that is proof of nothing.) - I read that whole transcript and there is a lot of detail in it.

A settlement was reached from that where the Smiths got some money (not a lot) but also access to all the data that had been collected by RC, the FBI and Jennifer's private investigators. Even with all of that, there were no "aha" moments, and the Smiths were really hoping to find one.

Once again, I can only say that I feel sorry for the survivors who feel compelled to fight on in the face of so many obstacles. If someone knows something, perhaps this reward will bring it out, but I can't personally recall any/many cases where just posting a big reward made a difference.

Jennifer was a little bit "too lucky" in that legally as the widow she had the legal right to the entire settlement, when George's family had to fight for every little thing they got. That seems unfair, but life is unfair sometimes.
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Old July 10th, 2014, 05:46 PM
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I assume that the settlement the wife got came from the cruise line insurance company. I wonder if part of that settlement included an agreement that she would not discuss the case with anyone other than the authorities. That may have included his parents. I am not sure what her "behavior" was. Do we really know what their "behavior" toward her was? It is an unfortunate situation. I don't know how well she knew his parents as a newlywed, maybe not well at all. I am sure there was a lot of guilt on her part, and a lot of suspicion and maybe blame on their part toward her. I really could not blame her for keeping her distance. And of course she is the legal heir to his estate. I think it is rare that the parent of a married adult is entitled to anything, so I don't understand what the parents expected to gain. Perhaps primarily it was a mechanism to gain access to the case information which they hoped would lead to some answers. It must be terrible for them. I give them credit for not giving up. I hope they get their answers some day.
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Old July 10th, 2014, 06:59 PM
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I would like to think she's heartbroken and how could she not feel guilty to an extent. I wonder how the new in-laws felt about her, maybe they didn't like her and in that case I could see why she pulled away especially if they were accusing her for being involved.


When I married my hubby 30 years ago his parents thought the devil sent me, in their eyes I was the worst thing that could of happened to him. Over the years that changed but sadly they never made it that far.....if this was the case.


Paul....Are the transcripts easy to find? I'm going to take a look in my free time.
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