The Terrifying Tale of a Girl Found Adrift at Sea
In 1961, a little girl was found alone at sea, dehydrated and close to death. Nobody knew how she had gotten there. Aside from the pajamas she was wearing and small raft, she had absolutely nothing. The whole situation left her rescuers completely baffled. It took some time for her to heal physically but the emotional scars remained as she held on to a dark secret. Only decades later she revealed the horrifying truth about what really happened. So what happened during that fateful trip? Read on to find out.
How It All Began
Many people dream of sailing the seas. They fantasize about getting away from the tedium of the office, the restrictions of the suburbs, or the chaos of the city. People form elaborate plans about taking their friends, family, or loved ones out on the wide open waters where there are no lines at the grocery store, no Powerpoint presentations, and no busy sidewalks filled with people who will walk right over you.
One man who dreamt of hitting the high seas was Arthur Duperrault. Duperrault, a World War II veteran from Green Bay, Winsonsin wanted more than anything to take his family for the sailing adventure of a lifetime. At least that was the plan. And that’s what left everyone shocked when rescuers found a young girl, utterly alone at sea. How did she get there?
2. A Family Man
Arthur Duperrault and his wife had what seemed like the perfect life. He was a successful eye doctor, and the two had three children together. The oldest, Brian, was 14. Terry Jo, Brian’s little sister, was 11. The youngest of the bunch was seven-year-old Renee.
The family lived a quiet and ordinary life in Green Bay. They were indeed in need of an adventure.
3. Off We Go
In 1961, Arthur’s family would not have to confront yet another harsh and harried Wisconsin winter. The winter of 1961, for Arthur’s family would be one of sunlight and warmth in the Bahamas.
Arthur, Jean, Brian, Terry Jo, and Renee, were heading for the Bahamas to soak up some sun, away from the harsh Wisconsin winter. They had enough money to finally get away, and the sunny Bahamas were the perfect location. Or at least that’s what they thought.
4. Bahamas By Boat
Arthur had a the whole thing planned out for him and his family. They wouldn’t take a big cruise or get on an airplane (is the 60s flying by airplane was something of luxury). But they would head to the Bahamas on a boat.
They’d get a boat and spend a week experiencing how life was like in the calm, peaceful islands. If things went well, maybe they could return as early as Christmas.
To launch their sea expedition, Arthur and his family would first head to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. That’s where their boat lay in wait for them.
The boat was called Bluebelle. As its name suggests, it was a beauty. It was a sixty-food two-masted sailboat, fully equipped with everything they needed for the journey.
Meet Handsome Julian Harvey
The boat would not be exclusively occupied by Arthur and his family. Without any real sailing experience, Arthur would need help to captain the ship.
To assist him, he hired a man named Julian Harvey. Described by many who knew him as “handsome enough for Hollywood,” Julian was a decorated Air Force bomber pilot who had seen World War II and the less glorified Korean War. He owned several racing yachts, and seemed like the right man for the job. Harvey brought along his wife of four months, Mary Dene.
7. The Voyage Begins
On Wednesday, November 8, 1961, Arthur, Julian, and their respective families began their highly-anticipated odyssey.
The ship had a 115-horsepower Chrysler engine. That Chrysler engine rumbled soothingly as Julian Harvey steered the sail boat away from the Fort Lauderdale dock and into the open seas. Soon, the seven occupants of Bluebelle would be in the midst of the 700s islands of Bahamas archipelago.
Fun in the Sun
First, Harvey steered Bluebelle toward Bimini, a miniature island chain. Then they headed east, to Sandy Point, a village located on the southwest point of the Great Abaco Island.
Here, the sun-smitten vacationers filled their days with snorkeling. They also picked up shells on the beautiful beaches. Things were looking good for the two families, who were having a wonderful time.
Back to America
On Sunday, November 12, 1961, Arthur and Julian went to the office of Roderick W. Pinder. Pinder was Sandy Point’s commissioner. The purpose of their visit was to fill out the forms that they needed to to properly leave the Bahamas. The vacationers were heading back home, to the United States.
Arthur felt the need to inform Roderick of how wonderful the vacation was. He wanted Roderick to know just how dream-worthy the journey had been. “This has been a once-in-a-lifetime vacation,” Arthur is reported to have told Roderick. “We’ll be back before Christmas.”
Last Night Alive
Little did Arthur know — little did his wife or three children know — they would not be coming back to the Bahamas for Christmas.
Sunday would be Arthur’s last night alive. It would also be last night alive for Brian, Renee, and Julian Harvey’s wife, Mary Dene.
Sunday dinner was cooked by Harvey’s wife Mary Dene. The former TWA stewardess made a chicken cacciatore and salad for the two families.
It was, unbeknownst to everyone aboard, Bluebelle’s last supper.
At approximately 9pm that Sunday night, Terry Jo, the middle child, went to her sleeping area. It was in a small cabin in the back of the boat.
Usually, Renee, her young sister, slept there too. Tonight, she was with her mom, dad, and brother in the cockpit.
The nighttime has the potential for any number of horrors. Free of the glare of the daytime, the dark permits all sorts of evils to come out and cause harm.
On Sunday, in the middle, of the night, Terry Jo heard her brother scream, “Help, daddy, help!” The screams were accompanied by running and stamping noises. Terry Jo was terrified..
After the running, the stamping, and the screams, there was eerie silence. What was going on aboard Bluebelle?
At first Terry Jo lay in her bed, covered in terrified shivers. Soon, she collected the courage to leave her cabin and see what had happened.
The main cabin wa used a kitchen and dining room during the day. At night, the main cabin was transformed into a bedroom.
In the main cabin, Terry Jo saw her mom and big brother. They laid in a pool of blood. They were dead.
A Ghastly Scene
Cautiously, Terry Jo went on to explore other areas of the boat. Near the cockpit, she more blood. She also saw a knife. With the courage of a soldier, Terry Jo continued to acquaint herself with the horrors of the boat. She made her way to the front of the boat.
As Terry Jo was confronting the grisliness of the once serene Bluebelle, somebody lunged at her.
Who could it be? Was their ship invaded by another man?
It wasn’t a strange murderer or foreign madmen: the man who lunged at her was the Blubell’s captain, Julian Harvey. “Get back down there!” he screamed at her.
Back to Bed
With her heart pounding harder than a jackhammer, Terry Jo spotted her bloodied mom and brother once more before going back to her sleeping place.
In her cabin once again, Terry Jo crawled back into her bunk. Soon, water was making its way into the cabin. Bluebelle was filling with water.
What’s In Harvey’s Hand?
Terry Jo was too afraid to move. Harvey, though, was moving all over the place. Soon, Terry Jo noticed Harvey in the doorway.
There was something in his hands. Could it be her big brother’s rifle? What was Harvey doing with the weapon?
With water reaching Terry Jo’s mattress, she came to understand that she could no longer stay in her cabin.
Making her way through the waist-high water, Terry Jo gallantly got herself to the top of the boat again.
On the side of the boat, Terry Jo noticed the ship’s dinghy and rubber life raft. She saw Harvey and asked him: “Is the ship sinking?” Harvey answered in the affirmative. He then gave Terry Jo the line to the dinghy. Shocked, Terry Jo let the line go.
The small boat slowly separated from the deteriorating Bluebelle. A man of action, Harvey leapt overboard to get it. Terry Jo observed Harvey swim feverishly for the dinghy. She watched him disappear into the frightful and mysterious night.
Terry Jo didn’t have the dinghy, but she did have a cork life float. She hurriedly untied it. Just as she able to get it loose, the boat deck capsized.
Partly crawling and partly swimming, Terry Jo moved the float into the open water and climbed aboard.
As she made her on top of the float, one of its lines got caught on the drowning Bluebelle. For a horrifying moment, Terry Jo and the float were underwater.
Quickly, the line earned its freedom. The float and terry Jo rose to the surface. She tried to stay as invisible as possible. She didn’t know what or who was out there on the open sea.
No Water and No Food
Terry Jo now found herself in the most scary of situations. She was out on the open sea with no water or food or proper clothing. All she had to defend herself against the climate of the ocean was her pink bottoms and her thin white blouse.
Saltwater made her eyes and lips sting. A shower came out of nowhere, soaking her and bringing on the shivers. The next morning, Monday, the sun went from her friend to her enemy. The sun burned her. The float was falling apart. Sharp-toothed parrot fish were nibbling at her feet and legs.
On Tuesday, Terry Jo noticed a small red plane above her. Terry Jo waved frantically the plane with her blouse.
The plane stayed in her area for a long time. But the pilots didn’t notice the girl. Soon, the plane left. The chances that a person in a passing ship or another plane would be able to pick Terry Jo out from her surroundings were not promising.
Creatures For Comfort
That Tuesday afternoon, Terry Jo spotted ghostly shapes approximately 30 yards away from her float. As the shapes came closer, Terry Jo realized they were porpoises.
The porpoises examined Terry Jo with their big, bold eyes. The whooshing noises they made brought Terry Jo tremendous comfort. She said a prayer, thanking God for sending them her way.
As Tuesday afternoon turned into Tuesday night, Terry Jo splashed water over her burned flesh. The night brought back the deadly darkness, but it also brought back the cool air that would bring much needed relief to the little girl’s body.
Wednesday lead to more burned skin. Now, her lips were swollen. They were rough, like sandpaper or beaten leather. Becoming more and more dehydrated, Terry Jo began hallucinating. She saw a tiny desert island and tried to paddle to the nonexistent safehaven.
On Thursday, Terry Jo’s skin had been so traumatized she could no longer feel the sharp rays of the sun.
As her raft was raised to the tops of cliffs and lowered into mysterious valleys, Terry Jo found on herself heading towards a sleep that verged on a death.
On her fourth day at sea, Terry Jo managed to get her eyes open. Insensible, Terry Jo couldn’t make out what she was seeing.
It could be a great whale, a big ship, or, perhaps, the shadow of death. Soon, she saw heads and waving arms. Soon, she heard voices. Terry Jo was miraculously rescued.
Oil Tanker for Harvey
Captain Harvey’s journey went quite differently than Terry Jo’s. The day after Bluebelle sunk, an oil tanker on its way to Puerto Rico spotted Harvey’s dinghy and stopped.
Upon the dinghy were Harvey and Renee Duperrault’s dead body. Harvey introduced himself to the tanker’s captain as captain of the missing Blubelle. In the following days, Harvey would tell his story, thinking he was the sole survivor. He believed Terry had drowned.
To the Miami Coast Guard, Harvey said that a sudden squall had harmed the sailboat. Masts and rigging went down, taking his wife and Arthur’s family with it. He said he found Renee floating in the water, tried to revive her, but failed.
Harvey has said that gas lines in the engine room exploded, causing the ship to swarm with fire and eventually sink. He was the only survivor, and everyone else drowned right then and there.
Harvey was set up at the Sandman Hotel. There, recovering from his brief odyssey on the open sea, he eventually found out Terry Jo had not died like he thought.
When a maid entered Harvey’s room to tidy it up, she spotted bloody sheets. She then tried to open the bathroom door, but couldn’t.
The Bathroom Scene
The maid told her manager about the condition of Harvey’s room. He quickly called the police.
The police forced the bathroom door open. They found Harvey on the floor. The Blubelle’s captain was bloody and he was dead. Knowing that his lies were soon to be discovered, he had killed himself.
The Truth Comes Out
Terry Jo was rescued by Captain Theo, an officer aboard a Greek freighter, and a helicopter took her to a hospital in Miami. Authorities gave Terry Jo a week to get herself together. They then questioned her. Her account exposed the lies that Harvey told.
Terry Jo’s story showed how Harvey, the man with the Hollywood looks, killed everyone aboard Bluebelle. He killed her dad, her mom, her big brother, and her younger sister. He also killed his own wife.
Authorities suspect Harvey killed his wife to get the money from her life insurance. She had a $20,000 double indemnity insurance policy.
Supposedly, Harvey hadn’t meant to kill Arthur Duperrault and his family. But Arthur perhaps caught Harvey killing his wife, which meant he and his family had to go too.
The question remains: Why didn’t Harvey kill Terry Jo? There are multiple answers to this question.
One suggests that he would have if he didn’t have to go after the dinghy. Another possibility is that he wanted to her to stay alive so that he would be caught, suffering from a guilty conscience.
Six Wives and Some Mysterious Accidents
As people began to research Julian Harvey’s background, they found many disturbing things. He had a yacht and power boat that sunk suspiciously before Bluebelle. Shockingly enough, their downfall gave him big insurance settlements.
Harvey was also once in a car accident that killed one of his wives and her mother. Throughout his life, the unlucky widower Julian Harvey had six wives, some of which also had tempting life insurance policies.
Grew Up All Wrong
Some believe Harvey’s upbringing was the cause for his murderous nature. His dad left him and his mother when he was still a little baby.
His mom went on to marry a vaudeville impresario who gave the boy basically everything he wanted, including a sailboat for this tenth birthday. Little Julian Harvey thought he could get whatever he wanted.
Before enlisting in the Air Corps, Harvey modeled for a well-known agency named John Roberts Powers Agency.
In 1941, he joined the Air Corps. By 1944, Harvey had amassed many medals, such as the Distinguished Flying Cross. But models and World War II heroes can be murderers too.
Back to Green Bay
As for Terry Jo, she went back to Green Bay. She lived with her dad’s sisters and her three cousins. When she was 12, she changed her name to Tere.
Now, decades later, Terry Jo is finally opening up about what happened to her at sea and had even penned a book about the case. As Terry Jo told CBS News, “I always believed I was saved for a reason. “If one person heals from a life tragedy, my journey will have been worth it.”
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