Amy Lynn Bradley was born on May 12, 1974, in Petersburg, Virginia, United States. She had a degree in Physical Education and was completing a lifeguard course as she was an excellent swimmer.
In March 1998, Amy and her family embarked on a Caribbean cruise. The Royal Caribbean International ship Rhapsody of the Seas was en route to Curaçao, a Dutch Caribbean island.
The 23-year-old girl at the time was hesitant about the trip, but her family convinced her they would have a great time.
Party on the Ship
On the night of March 23, 1998, Amy, her brother Brad, and their parents attended a gala dinner in the ship’s lounge. The parents returned to their cabin shortly after midnight, leaving only Amy and her brother for the upcoming dance.
A little while later, Brad left the venue and went back to his room. According to reports, Amy stayed at the party until 3:30 in the morning. Upon returning to the cabin, Brad reported that he and his sister sat on the balcony of the suite and talked before he went to sleep.
Between 5:15 and 5:30 in the morning, Amy’s father noticed that his daughter was dozing off in a chair on the cabin’s balcony1 and didn’t want to disturb her. At some point after that time, Amy got up barefoot and went to the ship’s pool to smoke a cigar.
At 6 AM, when her father returned, Amy was no longer on the balcony, and no one knew her whereabouts on the ship. It was unusual for the girl to leave without informing her family, so they decided to immediately report it to the ship authorities.
The parents pleaded with the captain not to dock the ship and to broadcast messages on the microphone informing that Amy was missing. They feared that a criminal might disembark and escape the location, possibly taking the victim with them.
The ship’s staff disagreed, claiming they didn’t want to create panic among the crew. The ship was docked, and people started disembarking rapidly, while the ship authorities hadn’t even started searching for Amy Bradley at that point.
Beginning of the Search
At around 8 AM, with the ship practically empty, a sound alert was issued, calling for Amy’s presence: “Amy Bradley, please come to the purser’s desk?” An order was given to search for the missing girl in all 1000 rooms of the ship, public bathrooms, and recreational areas.
Later, it was discovered that the ship’s teams never entered the rooms to avoid disturbing the crew. The Dutch Caribbean Coast Guard conducted a four-day search that ended on March 27, 1998, and the Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines chartered a boat to continue searching for her.
The Coast Guard used three helicopters and a radar plane to assist in the search. There was no evidence that Amy had committed suicide or fallen into the sea, and she was a strong swimmer who would know how to save herself.
Where is Amy Bradley?
According to her brother, Brad Bradley, Amy was receiving a lot of attention from the ship’s crew during the party, which made her uncomfortable. She was photographed multiple times at various points.
The first theory suggested by the family was that Amy had been taken by individuals involved in sexual slavery. In fact, this is one of the strongest theories of the case, and I’ll explain why.
During the years that followed, dozens of people claimed to have seen Amy in Curaçao. The first report came from a taxi driver, who said she approached his car, asked to use his phone, and then left.
In August 1998, Canadian tourists saw a woman who matched Amy Bradley’s description, and the most curious thing was that the supposed woman had the same tattoos as the victim: a Tasmanian devil spinning a basketball on her shoulder; the sun on the lower back; a Chinese symbol on the right ankle; and a lizard on the belly2.
In 1999, a sailor had an encounter with a woman in a brothel. While they were together, she claimed to be Amy Bradley and begged for help, telling the man that she was being held there against her will and wanted help to return home.
The man was very afraid to go to the police at the time, and his story was only told many years later when there was no longer any trace of Amy at the location.
Years later, Judy Maurer, who was shopping in a department store in Barbados, claimed to have seen Amy and said she asked for help. The woman said that before she could help, someone else appeared and took her away from the scene.3
Theories about the Case
During the ship’s party, Amy reportedly spent a lot of time talking to a member of the musical band. The man told the police that he was with Amy until 1 AM and then they parted ways. Although the investigation focused entirely on this suspect, nothing could be proven.
On that same night, Amy’s family was approached by a waiter asking to pass a note to Amy, involving an invitation for her to go for drinks with the band member once they reached the shore.
Furthermore, the professional photographer printed all the photos taken during the cruise to sell at a booth, but the family couldn’t find any photos of Amy, leading them to believe that the photos had been removed by someone.
A photo from an adult content website was sent to Amy’s family, and the woman in the photo really resembled the victim. This reminded me of the Rui Pedro Case, where a photo bore a strong resemblance to the missing boy, but the police were unable to trace its origin, much like in the Amy Bradley case.
Police only confirmed that the jawbone did not belong to Natalee Holloway, overlooking Amy Bradley and twelve other women who vanished in similar circumstances during Caribbean vacations.
In 2017, new evidence was found. The police were able to locate a photo where Amy and the band member were seen dancing right in front of the camera. The material was said to have been recorded by an advertising crew, but unfortunately, it was not able to provide a new direction for the case.
The police concluded that Amy fell into the sea or died by suicide, as initially suggested by authorities. Amy Lynn Bradley was legally declared dead on March 24, 2010, twelve years after her disappearance, with no witnesses and no body found.
The Bradley family still holds out hope of finding their daughter. They continue their search efforts and offer rewards for people who may know Amy Bradley’s whereabouts or have information about her.