On July 24 last year, Austin Stephanos and Perry Cohen headed out to sea on a fishing trip from which they would never return.
The two 14-year-old fishing fanatics set out from Florida’s Jupiter Inlet at 11am with the intention of fishing for dolphin on that fateful morning, but before long their boat was crippled by a storm, domineered by winds of up to 40mph.
As the horror kicked in, the pair sent a final Snapchat to friends, which simply but hauntingly read, ‘We’re fucked’.
Perry also spoke to his mum, Pamela, shortly before the storm came, saying:
Mom, it’s Perry. My iPad is dead… I’ll text you in a little. Love you.
His mom replied within a minute, telling her son she missed him:
OK. I wanted you to sleep home tonight. I miss you. We leave Sunday morning for New York. What about your work?
Cohen replied, telling her he’d been doing his homework and finished the text with, ‘but I was going to sleep at…’
There, the message cut off and sadly that was the last time Pamela ever heard from her son.
Though the pair’s bodies were never found, their capsized 19-foot Seacraft boat was spotted about 100miles off the coast of Bermuda in March, and investigators hope that the findings may shed new light on the case.
This week, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission released 128 pages of social media posts, investigative reports, cell phone tower records, interview notes and FBI emails that they’ve pieced together in an attempt to make sense of what happened to the boys.
Some of the photos released show that both the battery and the ignition in the boat had been switched off.
The family of Perry Cohen have an attorney, named Guy Rubin, who went into more detail, saying:
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.
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.
However, there is a chance that the pair turned the battery switch off themselves to conserve energy.
Among the things found was Stephanos’ phone, which Perry had used because his phone wasn’t working. However, up until yesterday Stephanos’ father did not want the phone to be touched.
What was found on the device included the Snapchat messages and the texts to his mother.
Although the search has now came to an end, both families have said they hope everyday that ‘one day Perry and Austin will be reunited with their families’.
Joseph Loftus is a Gold Standard NCTJ journalist with four years experience working for international and regional press.
As well as working for UNILAD and LADbible, Joseph has worked as Liverpool Correspondent for Unsigned & Independent Magazine, as well as stints with the Liverpool Echo and Warrington Guardian.