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The Strange Disappearance of Amy Lynn Bradley: What Happened to Her? 

The disappearance of Natalee Holloway on the island of Aruba in the mid-2000s captivated the world about the danger of young, single women being taken advantage of in traditionally safe vacation spots.

But while her disappearance captivated the world, an eerily similar disappearance happened seven years before that is not as well known.

Amy Lynn Bradley and her family.

In the early morning hours of Tuesday, March 28, 1998, vacationer Amy Lynn Bradley was with her family enjoying a Caribbean cruise. But as the ship docked on the island of Curaçao, her family soon realized she was nowhere to be found.

To this day, her disappearance remains shrouded in rumor, conspiracy theories, and speculation. So, what really happened to Amy Lynn Bradley?

Who Was Amy Lynn Bradley?

Amy Bradley was born on May 12, 1974, in Petersburg, Virginia. A Virginia native her whole life, she attended a local college, earned a degree in physical education, and was planning to take a new job at a computer consulting company.

To celebrate this major accomplishment in her life, her father, Ron, mother, Iva, and her younger brother, Brad, decided to turn the cruise Ron had won at a work competition into a family vacation. The trip itself was a Caribbean cruise aboard the Royal Caribbean cruise line Rhapsody of the Seas.

The itinerary had the family departing San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Saturday, March 21, traveling to Aruba on Monday, March 23, arriving at Curacao on March 24, and then going onward to Saint Martin, St. Thomas, and finally docking back at San Juan a week later on March 28.

Amy’s family was excited about the trip, considering the cooler-than-normal wintry weather that still embraced central Virginia at that time of year. But little did they know that this family vacation would turn into their worst nightmare.

The Disappearance Of Amy Bradley

At first, Amy was apprehensive about the trip. Though she had been a trained lifeguard who was a strong swimmer, being out in the middle of the ocean was a little daunting for her. However, after reassurances from Amy’s family, she decided to go on the trip.

After arriving in San Juan, the family boarded their cruise ship after spending a day in the city. The first port call was in Aruba, one of three islands of the Netherlands Antilles.

Once Rhapsody of the Seas departed Aruba on Monday the 23rd, the next night was going to be short before they pulled into port early the next morning in Curacao.

That is where Amy Lynn Bradley supposedly met with disaster.

During that alcohol and party-fueled night, Amy Bradley and her brother Brad were partying pretty hard. Their parents, Ron and Iva, decided to call it a night and leave the wild partying to their children. CCTV footage from that night shows that the two siblings partied well into the early morning hours.

At one point, their father, wanting to make sure Brad was not getting into any more trouble after accidentally trying to make a move on a married woman, went to the dance floor to check up on his kids.

There, he found his son dancing away to Jazz music played by the band Blue Orchid while Amy was talking to some of the crewmembers on the upper deck. Satisfied that his children were fine, he went back to bed.

After partying into the early hours of the morning, the two siblings called it quits around 3:30 a.m. Thanks to the electronic key logs on their family cabin, it is known that Brad entered the cabin at exactly 3:35 a.m., and Amy followed soon after at 3:40 a.m.

According to her brother, they spent a short time talking on the balcony before he went off to bed while Amy continued smoking cigarettes.

The Rhapsody of the Seas, the cruise ship that Amy’s family vacationed on. Photo via CruiseMapper.

Amy’s father woke up around 5:15 to 5:30 a.m. and saw his daughter slumped over in a lounge chair on the balcony, probably asleep. When he got back up for good at 6:00 a.m., Amy Lynn Bradley was nowhere to be found. But where had she gone?

At first, Amy’s family believed she had just wandered off somewhere to smoke a cigarette since the balcony door was open as if she had left in a hurry. After all, it was quite windy that morning, and she may have gone to a more secluded place to have an easier time lighting her cigarettes. 

However, after searching the cruise ship for a few hours, it was clear Amy was nowhere to be found. With Amy’s sandals, all her other shoes, photo ID, and personal belongings still in the cabin, it was evident that if she had left, she should have returned by now.

Worried, her family begged crew members not to let any of the nearly 2,000 guests off the ship before a thorough search could be conducted. However, cruise ship authorities decided against that.

Instead, they let everyone off the ship that morning and made a ship-wide announcement for her to come to the front desk. Amy Lynn Bradley never answered that call.

After conducting a more thorough search of the ship and finding no evidence of Amy or foul play like her being thrown overboard, Royal Caribbean authorities pleaded with the Netherlands Antilles Coast Guard to help conduct a search for Amy.

During the course of that four-day search, the Coast Guard found zero signs of Amy. 

Despite not finding her, Royal Caribbean also chartered their own search vessel to try to find Amy. But after two days of combing the surrounding waters between Aruba and Curacao, this ship also could not find Amy.

With both searches having turned up nothing and there being no foul play suspected, the cruise line told the Bradley family that the most likely scenario was a fall overboard in the early morning hours of that third night at sea.

However, Amy’s family refused to accept that theory, and there was plenty of testimony afterwards to conclude that Amy never went overboard that night.

Was Amy Lynn Bradley Ever Found?

Not satisfied with Royal Caribbean’s official story, the Bradley family, with the help of the FBI, began their own investigation into her disappearance. They started with some of the last known people to see Amy alive that night, besides her brother Brad.

Multiple eyewitnesses and CCTV footage showed that Amy was spending a lot of time with a member of the ship’s band that night, a man named Alister Douglas, nicknamed Yellow.

When authorities interviewed Yellow, he claimed that the last time he had seen Amy was around 1:00 a.m. after the show had ended. Suspicion landed squarely on him since he had been seen getting up close and personal with her, like grabbing Amy’s legs and buttocks.

But with no other evidence to refute his claim, and with it difficult to establish who was actually at the ship’s nightclub in those early morning hours, investigators and her family looked elsewhere. That is when Iva Bradley made a startling discovery.

When the Bradley family first arrived on board, a cruise photographer took their photo. When Amy’s mother returned later to retrieve the photograph, the same cruise photographer could not find it anywhere.

Was this incident a mere coincidence or perhaps an indication of a larger cover-up?

Through the investigation, the Bradley family discovered that there had been rumors of a slavery ring operating in the Caribbean, with particular value placed on white female women.

With no evidence of Amy having fallen overboard on the ship’s deck and no concrete evidence of her reaching land despite being a strong swimmer, Amy’s family concluded the most likely scenario was she had been abducted. And there have been numerous eyewitness accounts to back this up.

The first of these comes from a local taxi driver. He claimed that after Rhapsody of the Seas pulled into port, a frantic, single white female who looked frightened approached his cab.

She kept saying she needed a phone. However, thinking she was probably just a drunk tourist who had a bit too much to drink, he brushed her off, and she ran away.

The next sighting of her comes about five months later from vacationing Canadian engineer David Carmichael.

David claimed that in August 1998, he was sitting on a Curaçao beach when he saw a woman matching Amy’s description being escorted by two men. The woman looked frightened and wanted to talk to him. However, the two guys motioned her away. 

While this purported sighting might not seem credible, what gave this account validity is that he was able to describe some of Amy’s distinctive tattoos.

Among these distinctive tattoos included a Tasmanian devil spinning a basketball on her shoulder, a Japanese sun on her lower back, a Chinese symbol on her right ankle, and a gecko by her belly button.

The distinguishable tattoos that Amy Lynn Bradley had.

The chance of David Carmichael’s testimony being a coincidence is just too low. After all, how many women in Curacao are walking around with a Tasmanian devil tattoo on their shoulder?

The next purported sighting of Amy came in January 1999. The unidentified witness was a sailor in the US Navy at the time when his ship docked in Curacao.

During this port visit, he said he visited a local brothel. During that visit, a woman approached him and said her name was Amy, and she needed help. Like the cab driver, he brushed her off and saw another woman instead. 

Unfortunately, despite a very promising lead, the man neglected to report the incident for several years until after he had retired from the Navy. This is because visiting prostitutes was and remains against US Navy regulations.

The last and most dramatic sighting of Amy came in 2005. An unidentified woman reported that she was shopping at a department store in Barbados when she had to use the restroom.

Once inside that department store restroom, she struck up a conversation with a woman since she said her name was Amy, which was also one of her daughters’ names.

After Amy began telling her about herself, including that she was from Virginia, three men barged into the restroom and took her away. 

The woman immediately reported the incident to authorities, and sketches were made of the woman and suspects, but no concrete leads came out of it until a photo surfaced later that year.

Several months after the latest alleged sightings in Barbados, the Bradley family received an email that gave them new hope in the case. The anonymous tipster stated that he had found this picture of Amy on an adult website advertising lovemaking trips to the Caribbean. 

The single photograph depicted what looked like Amy wearing lingerie. While her parents believed it was their daughter, it looked like a tormented Amy who was being held against her will. They needed further confirmation from experts to confirm their suspicions.

What the experts found was shocking. Numerous analysts confirmed that, without a doubt, the woman in the photo was Amy Lynn Bradley.

This discovery gave Amy’s family hope that she was still alive despite enduring whatever horrible suffering she was going through as a slave. 

However, with no further evidence of Amy being alive, her parents had her declared legally dead in 2010.

But while courts may have recognized that falling overboard in the international waters around Curacao was the most likely cause of her death, her parents have not stopped searching for her.

In fact, her family keeps Amy’s disappearance alive in the media through numerous outlets, including specials on television shows like Unsolved Mysteries, podcasts, and websites.

With this tremendous amount of media coverage the family keeps on Amy’s disappearance, it is hoped that the 250,000 dollar reward for her safe return or the 50,000 dollar reward for information leading to her verifiable location will one day convince someone to come forward.

However, until someone with intimate knowledge of how Amy disappeared comes forward, it is likely no one will ever know the truth of what happened to a young woman whose life was cut far too short.


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