News sources are reporting that a couple was found dead today aboard a Holland America Line (HAL) cruise ship that docked in Puerto Rico.

The local police said that the man and woman were sailing on the Ryndam and were in their 50’s and were from Cleveland, Ohio.

According to the news reports, no one is disclosing how, when or why the two people were killed.

HAL RyndamA police officer said that blood was found in a cabin but it was unclear how the couple died. He said that "We don’t know yet whether an object was used or what the motive was."

He said the ship’s crew found the bodies when they checked on the couple after not seeing them for a while.

The FBI has taken over the investigation.

The Ryndam departed Tampa, Florida, on Sunday for a 2 week cruise in the Caribbean. The cruise ship ported in Key West on Monday and sailed at sea for 2 days before docking in San Juan today.

The AP story (based on the cruise line’s PR department) speculates that the deaths may have involved a "murder-suicide’ but there is no information released so far which supports that conclusion. 

The FBI is handling the investigation at this point. The FBI generally does a terrible job investigating crimes on cruise ships. They often appear more interested in protecting the cruise lines’ reputation.

April 3 2015 UpdateHAL Jumps the Gun (Again), Calls Deaths a "Murder-Suicide"

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Photo Credit: Roger Wollstadt via Wikipedia Creative Commons 3.0

  • Titia koopman

    I find it patently absurd that you state that while the FBI is investigating this incident, it generally does a poor job “and is often more interested in protecting a cruise line’s reputation “. This causes the impression that the cruise line is fine with that, while nothing is further from the truth. Any reputable cruise line, in this case, Holland America Line, is simply not equipped to effectively investigate a complicated scene of this nature, and hands over to the officials to ensure that it IS properly handled., so that it does not appear that there are self-protective interests at play. Further, the couple was apparenly discovered while the vessel was docked in San Juan, Puerto Rico, therefore U.S jurisdiction automatically applies. The FBI investigates thoroughly, just as it would any other land-based incident. To state that it has secondary interests is suggestive and incorrect.

  • JustinB

    They are from Salem, Ohio. Much closer to Youngstown than Cleveland. Local news reporting on the story, too. wkbn.com

  • Tatia:

    Thanks for your perspective. Have you been involved or know directly of other crimes on HAL ships where the FBI was involved?

    Perhaps you should disclose that you worked for HAL as Guest Relations Manager before becoming a travel agent?

  • Mathieu J. Oosterwijk

    Mr. Walker,

    I have to completely agree with the views of Mrs. Titia Koopman.
    Referring to her previous occupation with the pertaining cruise ship company has nothing and absolutely nothing to do with the matter at hand.
    This type of investigations can not be handled by shipboard personnel. If, for whatever reason they would get involved in handling such a case, the first thing lawyers (who will be undoubtedly involved within short) would bring forward would be the lack of investigative knowledge of shipborn staff. Therefore local police and if so deemed fit the local FBI office are to be notified and let them handle the investigation.

  • Mr. Oosterwijk:

    You should disclose that you are a consultant for shipowners, as well as P&I clubs and insurance underwriters who represent the interests of shipping companies and cruise lines.

    But you make an interesting point. Cruise line personnel are obviously unqualified to perform forensic analysis investigations. Unfortunately, I have seen numerous occasions where unqualified and untrained ship personnel nonetheless enter crime scenes on cruise ships and engage in evidence spoliation, either intentional or inadvertent. They make it impossible to proceed with a criminal case against their employees and otherwise prejudice the rights of victims.

    HAL has announced a “murder-suicide” in this case. That’s impossible to do without a forensic investigation. If HAL performed such an investigation, then HAL tampered with the crime scene. The shipboard staff is suppose to close, lock and secure the door to the cabin and notify the FBI. How could an untrained HAL cabin attendant readily conclude that two dead passengers involved a “murder-suicide?” I suspect that HAL’s PR department quickly labelled the deaths as a “murder suicide” because it exculpated HAL and it’s underwriters from potential liability if a crew member was involved. Plus it’s is better PR to always blame the passengers.

  • Anonymous

    Mr. Walker,

    I find it very sad that whilst accusing other parties of having alterior motives such as “protecting the cruise line’s reputation”, you as lawyer surely seem to have your piece ready. So sad how you US lawyers make your TV commercials and have your comments ready on any incident that you can get your hands on. The only perception you display is the one that works in your favor. And you may be a good lawyer…I don’t know, but just because you can prepare a good argument in court, does not mean you are telling the truth. But I guess that is how you pay the bills; by protecting your client’s interest….hmmm, sound familiar?

  • Anonymous:

    Your internet provider (IP) address indicates that you sent your email from Carnival’s headquarters in Miami.

    You are free to disagree with me and are entitled to your own opinions about the Carnival brands you work for.

    I stand behind my opinions and of course disclose my name, address and contact information.

    I find it sad and pitiful that cruise cowards like you cannot even use the name which your parents gave you.

  • Dnanci

    I rarely hear about crime occuring on a cruise ending favorably ….as in the crime being fully resolved with the perps punished appropriately, etc. It seems very unlikely that a couple that age would go the trouble and expense of going on a cruise just to kill each other off. It seems if that was the intent, it’d be better to do it at home in familiar surroundings than some small cabin out in the ocean. If in indeed it turns out to be a murder-suicide it is just a sad state to end in.

  • Sid Levin

    Jim, I agree with you 100% about the “too quick crime solving” of HAL. The ship has the duty of securing the crime scene until forensic investigators can get in the cabin to do a thorough forensic examination. An untouched crime scene is vital to assist in determining just what happened. Every report says “murder-suicide” before anything is really known. Could it be that the two were inside the cabin when someone tried to burgle it, and they were either in the cabin, or came in while the perp was already inside? Very interesting that I did not hear anything about it on National TV.

  • connie

    do you know in which cabin or category of cabin this couple was found