New evidence has emerged in the mystery of Austin Stephanos and Perry Cohen, and with the new evidence comes new theories. The Florida teens lost at sea sent this ominous Snapchat to friends: ‘We’re F’d’ – inside their final hours. Additionally, family members say new photos of the 14-year-old Florida teens’ boat may indicate foul play.
A 128-page investigative file dated February 8 reveals that the FBI has been involved in the investigation since September and that in December, state investigators requested subpoenas for phone records in connection with “an official investigation of a suspected felony.” Released in the 128 pages were social media posts, investigative reports, cell phone tower records, interview notes and FBI emails released this week by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission paint the picture of an peaceful day on the water turned tragedy.
The FBI’s involvement began in September, when Perry’s stepfather, Nick Korniloff, contacted the FBI and a Fish and Wildlife Commission criminal investigator saying he believed the boys were abducted, according to the file.
Pamela Cohen’s attorney, Guy Bennett Rubin, told WPBF-TV of West Palm Beach that photographs of the marooned vessel, which was recovered by a Norwegian supply ship on March 18, prove that “the boat was disabled intentionally.”
The photographs show the ignition switch and the battery — both of which were in hard-to-access parts of the boat — in the “off” position.”
“So we don’t know whether foul play was involved or not,” Rubin told the station.
Speaking separately at a news conference this week, Rubin said the Fish and Wildlife Commission “has indicated to us that the investigation is open and continuing, and they are taking all of this new information very seriously.”
Rubin said Cohen is “desperate” to know what happened, and “we’re not going to just stand by and let someone kind of filter the information that we get.”
“We do know for sure that boat was disabled intentionally because the battery switch, which is very difficult to get to, was in the off position,” Guy Rubin, the attorney for Cohen’s family, told WPBF. “That can’t be maneuvered by the passage of time, the current, and other events. The key in the ignition was in the off position. If the storm came and capsized the boat, the battery switch and the key would not be in those positions.”
But Captain Jimmy Hill, a longtime maritime industry professional and founder of the Southeast US Boat Show, tells PEOPLE there are a multitude of potential reasons for the battery and ignition to have been turned off. Topping the list is mechanical failure.
“One of the first things I would do is shut the battery off and save whatever energy I have, especially if I’ve already tried a few things and the battery is getting low,” Hill explained. “One main reason is because the bilge pump works off that battery and it’s the only way to pump out water that the boat takes on unexpectedly. The radio operates on electricity, too. There may be other systems on a boat, depending upon how it’s wired, where that radio would be more valuable than anything else. So, the boys may have conscientiously shut off the battery to conserve electricity for that purpose.”
As for the ignition, “If the boat had any type of mechanical failure, it would have been shut off, otherwise the alarm on the engine would have been driving them crazy if they left it on. Those particular items, by themselves without any other information, are not particularly shocking.”
“We hope that this will lead into something good and that they will have at least some information or details about what happened,” said Captain Håvard Melvær, who was the first aboard the Norwegian ship to spot the boys’ boat. He adds that as the boat hung from a crane on the deck of the Edda Fjord, a bench beside it became something of a place of solace for his crewmembers. “It became a natural place to sit. It was treated with a lot of respect. I think most people were thinking about their loved ones and their own situations at home.”