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Dark Cruise: The Mysterious Vanishing of George Smith

Brent Swance

IT was the summer of 2005, and 26-year-old George Smith was in one of the happiest times of his life. He had just married his girlfriend, Jennifer Hagel, and the two were embarking on a sumptuous 2-week cruise through the Mediterranean for their honeymoon, planning to visit Greece, Turkey, and Italy, and other places. When they departed from Barcelona aboard the Royal Caribbean International cruise ship MS Brilliance of the Seas on Wednesday June 29th, 2005, they did so on the adventure of a lifetime, with their whole future lying out brightly in front of them. Yet things were about to turn into a cruise into darkness, with a series of sinister and mysterious events, and only one of them was going to leave that ship.

On July 4th the couple was halfway through their cruise, and had spent the day exploring the Greek island of Mykonos, after which they had a romantic dinner before hitting the casino and then moving on to the ship’s disco. They seemed to be thoroughly enjoying themselves, and up until then everything was going very well and without incident. At the disco they ran into some other people they had met during the cruise, including another newlywed couple, a young man from California named Josh Askin, and a group of three Russian American men by the names of Greg and Zach Rozenberg and Rostislav Kofman. They all ended up sitting in the club together drinking, and according to some witnesses they had a bottle of absinthe that someone had smuggled aboard. When Smith and his wife retired for the evening they were very drunk, so drunk in fact that Hagel would be found the next morning passed out in a maintenance alcove in the hallway. Even so, she came out of it better that her husband, who could not be found, and who indeed has never been seen again.

GeogerGeorge Smith and Jennifer Hagel

On the morning of July 5, Smith was nowhere to be found, but although the man himself could not be located anywhere on the ship, there were some rather sinister things found in the vicinity of the room. There were found some bloodstains on the awning of the cabin’s balcony, as well as a bloodstain on the lifeboat canopy directly below the cabin’s balcony, which led to the suspicion that he had been so drunk that he had fallen from the balcony and gone overboard. This was what the officials with Royal Caribbean Cruises believed after a brief and cursory investigation, but the police had other ideas. For them this was a possible homicide, and they would indeed uncover a slew of strange clues.

Authorities began interviewing people who had seen the couple or been with them the night before, as well as Hagel, who had been found blacked out in the hall and claimed to have no memory whatsoever of the previous evening. The group of men they had been with were questioned and painted a clearer picture of what had happened that night. Askin would tell them that Smith and Hagel had been arguing throughout the night due to the fact that she had been flirting with other men, in particular a handsome crewmember by the name of Lloyd Botha. Apparently at some point Smith had had enough and the couple got into a huge fight that ended with Hagel storming off, apparently with Botha in tow. The men then claim that they had escorted the heavily intoxicated Smith back to his room and left him there on the bed to sleep it off, after which they had gone back to their rooms and ordered room service. The ship’s key card system would confirm that he had been dropped off at his room at exactly 4:02 AM. They claim that when they left Smith in the room, his wife was nowhere to be seen and they assumed that she had gone off with Botha for a fling. It is all pretty intriguing and scandalous so far, but evidence would show that this story didn’t exactly hold up.

OneOne thing that didn’t quite add up was that although it was reported that they had ordered a huge meal from room service after dropping Smith off, the cruise has no records of them doing so. A minor point, perhaps, but odd. There is also the fact that despite their insistence that Hagel had left the disco with Botha, his employee card information shows that he in fact left long before Hagel did. More ominous is that neighbors of Smith’s cabin would report that they had heard some sort of commotion in the room at approximately 4 AM, which was described as being a lot of cheering, yelling, and loud conversation, like a party was going on, and one witness would report hearing at least three voices coming from the cabin’s balcony. When the noise died down, witnesses reported seeing three men leaving the room, which is strange since four men insisted that they had gone there to drop Smith off. Where did the other one go? Did he stay behind? Why? After the three men left, a single voice was purportedly heard from within the cabin speaking in a normal tone and there was also the sound of furniture being moved around for around 10 minutes, after which there was a moment of silence and then a loud, resounding thudding noise. It is unknown what this sound could have been, but authorities speculated it could have been the sound of Smith falling off the balcony and hitting the deck below. No one was seen to enter or leave the cabin after that, and adding to the frustration of those investigating is that the cruise ship has no surveillance cameras that show the corridors, halls or passageways leading to the cabins, meaning it is impossible to know who came and went and when.

It is also unclear where Hagen was during all of this, because she was estimated to have left the club at just after 3 AM and was not seen again until 4:30AM out in that hall, after which she had been put back in her room by the crew members who found her, however, they did not take any time to look around the room and were unsure of whether Smith was there at the time or not. Where had she gone and what had she been doing during that time? No one seems to know. For her part she claimed she had absolutely no memory of what had happened after the disco, and even stated that she believed she might have been drugged. Making this all even weirder was that a more careful examination of the room would later turn up small droplets of blood on a bedsheet and a towel inside the cabin, casting doubt on the idea that he had simply fallen overboard in a drunken stupor.

AllAll of this cast the four men last seen with Smith in a new light, and there were renewed efforts to investigate them. It was quickly found that the three Russian men had a long list of complaints from other passengers and the crew of the cruise, being described as rowdy, belligerent, unruly, and rude. A passenger would also later claim to have been raped by the three of them on the cruise, and there was even a piece of footage found on one of their cellphones showing them talking about Smith’s death, and although they say nothing truly incriminating, they speak of the tragedy in a decidedly callous tone. Adding to this is that Askin would fail an FBI polygraph test about his version of events, and while none of this is concrete evidence that they had something to do with Smith’s vanishing, it is certainly suspicious. Attorney Michael Jones, who represents Smith’s family, has said of these men, “The evidence suggests that Josh Askin and the boys know more than they have let on. It’s time for them to come forward and tell what they know about George’s disappearance.”

In the end, no one has ever been formally charged with anything to do with Smith’s disappearance, and his body has never been found. The cruise company itself has adamantly stood by its decision that this was a simple drunken accident, and they have been criticized by Smith’s family as not doing very much to investigate and accused of trying to cover it all up, leading to them pursuing civil lawsuits against the cruise line. In the meantime, the police and FBI have done all they can to pursue it, and have come to the conclusion that there is insufficient evidence of murder. George Smith’s family does not agree, and has offered a $100,000 reward for information leading directly to an arrest and conviction in the case. The money remains untouched. In the end it all remains officially an “accident,” and we are left to wonder just what happened to this man and what all of the disparate clues mean. Why was that blood there in the room, who was with him that night, and what did the neighbors here? Why is there so much discrepancy between the story of the last people known to be with him and what the evidence actually shows? Where was Smith’s wife during all of this? Do those four men who were with him have anything to do with it, or indeed even his own wife? Was Smith the victim of a simple accident, foul play, or something else? There have been no new leads, the case remains unsolved, and it seems like the only one who could’ve told us the real story is Smith himself, but he isn’t talking, and has never been seen again.


Woman Says She Knows Where Last Body She Inhabited Is Buried

By Dominic Smithers

A womanA WOMAN has claimed that she knows exactly where her past-life body is buried. Watch below:

Alexandra Joy says she is a ‘life long psychic’ and recently shared a video to her TikTok account, in which she explained that she was someone well-known during her previous stint on Earth.

In the short clip, the actor said that people visit her grave, which she finds a little weird.

Splitting a video with another TikToker, who said she had heard that the body you last inhabited in a past life is still buried somewhere on Earth, Alexandra says: “I’m a professional past-life healer and I know exactly where my last body is.

“People visit my body and it’s a little weird, like, nice but weird.

“There’s a solid chance that you might have visited my body.

“I also wonder if people recognise me on this app from that past life or some other s***, because you would probably recognise me.

“I’m not gonna tell you who this is, though, cause there is plenty of trauma that I’m working through on this life.

“I am proud of myself in succeeding in this life where I was not able to in that life.”

She then asked: “Do you recognise me?”

Well, do you?

This is the latest TikToker to take on the question of what happens when we die.

Last month, a man shared a wild theory about the afterlife, which not only attempts to explain what happens when you die, but also why we sometimes experience déjà vu.

Brandon Monhollen (@brandonmonhollen) responded to a question posed by another TikTok user, who asked: “What’s a conspiracy theory that absolutely blows your mind?”

In his video, Monhollen detailed a theory he’d read about recently which he found ‘seriously intriguing’, saying in the caption he hoped it ‘gains some traction’.

He said: “I’m not exactly sure if this is a conspiracy theory but, I read this about six months ago.

“What if when we die, the light at the end of the tunnel is the light to another hospital? There we are born, and the only reason you come out crying is because you remember everything from your past life and you’re crying at the fact that you died and lost everything.

“As you grow and start to forget your past life, and you focus on the life that you have now, patches of memory stay behind and that memory causes déjà vu.”

Featured Image Credit: TikTok/Alexandra Joy

Topics: Entertainment, Social Media, Actor, US News, Psychic, US Entertainment, Weird, tiktok

Dominic Smithers


The Mysterious Wilderness Vanishing and Death of Jacob Gray

By Brent Swancer

jacob grayBrent Swancer | Mysterious Universe

Brent Swancer is an author and crypto expert living in Japan. Biology, nature, and cryptozoology still remain Br…

NATIONAL PARKS and the wilderness in general have long been a magnet for strange disappearances and oddities. On April 5, 2017,22-year-old Jacob Gray left his home in left Port Townsend, Washington to go on a bike ride. It was a sturdy bike, and behind him he towed a trailer full of all sorts of camping gear he would need for his journey, which was to be a cross country trip from Washington to Vermont, where his brother lived stationed there with the U.S. Coast Guard. Unfortunately, he would never arrive, and thus would mark the beginning of a strange unsolved mystery surrounded by bizarre clues.

It began when that day, a woman came across the bicycle and trailer stopped along the Sol Duc Hot Springs Road in the Daniel J. Evans Wilderness in Olympic National Park, in Washington, somewhat off the road in brush but still visible by anyone passing by, and she immediately recognized it because she had seen a young man riding it only 2 hours before. She did not see any sign of anyone there, and mentioned it to rangers in the area. The bike stayed there the whole day, and when rangers checked the following morning to find it still there untouched it was seen as a bit odd. Rangers decided to investigate and found that the bike had belonged to Jacob Gray based on a list of phone numbers in his notebook. The trailer with all of its gear seemed to have been abandoned there, with no sign of Jacob, yet there were signs that he had tried to set up a camp of some sort. There was a tarp laid out on the ground and miscellaneous camping equipment laid out, but Jacob seems to have suddenly left the area before it could all be fully set up. There was a weird little detail in that four arrows had been stuck into the ground in an east-west line, but no one could figure out why he would have wanted to do that or what it signified.

JacobJacob Gray

A look at the bike showed it to be still totally functional, with no flat tires or any reason why Jacob couldn’t have continued along. So where had he gone? No one had a clue. A quick search of the area showed no trace of where Jacob could have gone, there was no sign of a struggle or animal attack, and there was nothing strange found in the nearby river either. Oddly, none of his gear had been brought with him, so authorities were beginning to think he had perhaps wandered off to go exploring and had gotten lost, but why do that in the middle of setting up camp and why had those arrows been eerily stuck into the ground? Things would get weirder when Jacob’s family was contacted and it turned out that he had told no one of his plans to go visit his brother out east, and in fact had told no one he was leaving at all. The only one who had known about it was Jacob’s brother, Micah. Another oddity was that Micah said that Jacob had planned to visit him in Vermont, yet the abandoned bicycle and trailer had been found at the Daniel J. Evans Wilderness in Olympic National Park, which was actually to the west of where he had been heading. Why should this be? He had no reason to visit the park and had not told his brother about that detour, so it was seen as very strange.

A larger search effort was launched, using tracker dogs and dozens of volunteers and search and rescue personnel, although it did not get under way until several days after Jacob had been missing, which was puzzling to his family. On April 12 there were found tracks that suggested that the missing man had at some point switched from hiking boots to running shoes for some reason, and there were also found signs that someone may have fallen into the river, in the form of a scuff mark on a mossy rock, as well as signs that someone may have tried to exit the water further downstream. This new lead sparked an intensive search of all logjams in the area for 12 miles downstream using cadaver dogs, but no sign of a body was found. Jacob’s father, Randy, even personally put on a wetsuit to go diving to search the bottom, but there was no body there. On April 15, there would be another promising clue when a pair of shorts were found a few miles downstream, but it was unknown if these had even belonged to the missing man, or why they should have been removed in the first place. At this point, the main theory was that Jacob had accidentally slipped and fallen into the river, but with no body no one could be sure.

As this was going on there were fliers distributed throughout the region, but these turned up no hits, and when there was no further sign of Jacob Gray the search was scaled back and dried up almost entirely, with only the missing man’s family tirelessly trudging on with their own teams on their own, but they never found anything. Another official search would not be carried out until 2017, which also turned up nothing. It was as if Jacob Gray had evaporated into thin air. It would not be until August of 2018 that any new clues would be found, and it was not the outcome anyone would have hoped for.

InOn August 10, 2018, some Olympic National Park employees found some abandoned camping equipment at Hoh Lake. Later that day, a macabre discovery would be made when some biologists who were in the area studying marmots stumbled across a treeless ridge above the lake and 5,300 feet above sea level, that had clothing, camping gear, a wallet, and skeletal human remains that would soon be identified as those of the missing Jacob Gray. This discovery would answer the question of Jacob’s ultimate fate, but it also left many new unanswered questions. One was that the body was found 15 miles from the abandoned bike, well off the nearest trail and at a much higher altitude through rugged terrain, and what’s more, at the time of the disappearance it would have been well within the snowline and covered with snow. Why would he have wanted to venture there, of all places? Also strange is that the remains were found with plenty of food and were dressed warmly, so how had he died? The Clallam County Coroner’s office would not be able to find a clear cause of death, ultimately deeming the cause to be “inconclusive.”

There are numerous oddities surrounding this case and lingering unanswered questions. Why didn’t he tell anyone where he was going, and why did he head west instead of east as he had planned? Why was he in the Daniel J. Evans Wilderness in Olympic National Park? Why had he left his camp in the middle of setting it up and what was the meaning of those arrows stuck in the ground? Indeed, why had he chosen that spot along the road as a campsite in the first place? Why head up towards the snowline, when the natural instinct for most people when lost is to head downhill? Why would he have wandered off the trail in the first place to make his way up to that lonely, treeless ridge, why change his shoes to sneakers, and how exactly did he die? What was with the slow response with search efforts? These are questions we have no answers for at the moment, and it remains a spooky mystery.