Vol 1: Spellbound‎ > ‎Read‎ > ‎

Ch 15: Explanations

On Monday, March 6th, Larry and Gary flew to Rangiroa with two FBI escorts and one U.S. Coast Guard Intelligence Officer in tow to examine the Spellbound.   The Spellbound was still anchored in the lagoon.   Once permitted by the FBI, Gary and Larry would sail the Spellbound to Papeete and then perhaps back home, or at least that was the plan.   Larry was nervous to enter the site where his parents lost their lives.  What gruesome images would await him? 

Motoring out to the Spellbound, Larry couldn’t help but think how peaceful she looked.  There were so many dreams wrapped up in that boat.  He could easily see his parents working on board, Jody sewing the cushion covers or Loren shaping the railing between the galley and the main cabin.   He really didn’t want these happy memories extinguished by new images too horrible to recall.  Once on board, he realized there was nothing to see.  He noticed that Gary had no trouble returning to the scene where their parents died.  He climbed aboard and started to inspect the mast and rigging to make sure everything was still in working order since his departure. 

Kevin, the hired cleaners, and Randi and Jerry had done a good job removing obvious evidence of the deaths.  The Spellbound looked very much the same as it did when she left San Diego.  Perhaps this is why Gary didn’t seem to mind being in the place where he saw his parents die. 

Larry quickly unpacked his things into his old bunk.  Lori’s things were already gone.  Again, his mind wandered to the question that would always haunt him: if he had remained onboard, could he have prevented whatever happened, or would he be with his parents at this very moment? 

He was quickly snapped out of his reverie when one of the agents cleared his throat in the galley.  Larry stepped into the eating area as Gary entered the main cabin.  The agent in the kitchen turned to Larry and asked if he would show him around.  Gary strode forward and told the agent he spent more time on Spellbound and could answer his questions better than his brother.  Before Larry could say anything, the agent followed Gary into the hall leading to the double berth.  Larry followed Gary and the agents as they toured the Spellbound.  No one said anything about the weekend before when Loren and Jody died.  It could have been a tour for someone interested in buying the boat.  After the brief exploration of the boat, the agents said they would check into the hotel and return later for a more thorough examination and perhaps a few more questions.

As soon as the agents left the boat, Larry decided it was time for Gary to give him an explanation.  He couldn’t stop wondering why the truth was so hard to tell.  Gary was on deck waving goodbye to the agents when Larry came up behind him and asked, “What happened to Kerry and our parents?” 

DID YOU KNOW . . . What a Boom Is?

Gary turned to face his brother, “I’ve already told you,” he grumbled. “Kerry fell off the couch when she was sleeping and hit her head on the trunk. You do remember its sharp corners?” he continued in a haughty voice. “Later,” he went on in the same tone, “Dad went on deck and was hit by the boom.” Gary explained, “Dad was having trouble with his balance and planning on seeing a doctor about his condition in Seattle. He’d hurt his leg earlier – maybe this was the problem,” he remarked. 

This was news to Larry, as Dad hadn’t mentioned this to anyone in the U.S. that he knew of. “The blow knocked Dad out. Mom helped me bring him into the main cabin. She tried to resuscitate him,” Gary stated as he walked down the stairs into the main cabin. He paused in the doorway and turned to Larry standing in the cockpit area, “It didn’t work.” Gary continued into the main cabin and his version of what took place on board only ten days earlier. “That’s when we noticed Kerry lying on the couch covered in blood herself,” he continued with a shrug of a shoulder, “Jody killed herself the next morning from the grief of losing Dad so suddenly.” 

Larry thought Gary’s story about Kerry could explain how she cut her head above her eye, but not how she received such a serious head injury. As for Dad, everyone said there was no wind that day, so what propelled the boom to hit Dad. If his balance was off, was it enough to cause him to fall and receive a fatal blow? And, if so, why didn’t Gary just say so from the beginning? As for Mom, Larry knew in his heart that she would not commit suicide. Mom already knew the experience of losing a husband, she had an injured daughter to protect, she had never fired a gun, and likely didn’t know how to put the pistol together. No, that part of the story didn’t make sense. 

Larry asked his brother, “Did anyone board the boat?” 

Gary scoffed, “No one could get past me.” And then laughed, as he shook his head no, “No one boarded the boat” he added. “Why do you ask?” 

Larry answered, “I thought perhaps there was a bad drug deal or something. Maybe someone boarded and attached Kerry and Dad,” he continued hoping it was true. 

“No, it was just us out there,” Gary looked as if he was almost smiling. 

The smirk annoyed Larry. He pressed Gary, “How could the boom have hit Dad when there was no wind?” Gary repeated that Dad’s balance was off because he injured his leg a couple of weeks earlier. 

Gary flatly told him, “Dad fell. He hit the brass bolt on the helm. The boom may have been loose.” 

Larry paused and thought, “Well, that is a slightly different story.” He confronted Gary with the change, “You never mentioned him hitting his head on the helm before?” 

Gary paused and raised his voice as he said, “It’s hard to remember. There are so many different things that could have happened and you don’t know what it was like. I fixed everything. I saved Kerry and Lori.” 

Larry was speechless. What did he mean, “so many different things”? There could only be one way they died. And, what happened to Kerry? He asked Gary in a hard voice, “Well then, how did Kerry get her head bashed in?” 

Gary gave Larry the look he used when they were boys, when he’d done something wrong and it was impossible to prove he was the culprit. It was a look of arrogance and disdain. Gary taunted him, “You will never know what happened. It is my secret.” Larry shivered. He was now sure in his heart that there was more to the story. 

Back in Seattle only two weeks after the deaths of Loren and Jody Edwards, the family was starting to come to the same conclusions as Larry. They were beginning to think the unimaginable. The continued FBI involvement, Gary’s aloofness with Larry, Kerry’s silence, and Lori’s disappearance fed their sense of dread. If their parents’ deaths were not accidental and there were only five people on board the Spellbound, then Gary, Kerry, or Lori – or a combination of those three survivors – was responsible. They weren’t acting like people who’d witnessed horrible accidents. No, they were acting like culprits, like they had something to hide. 

Back in the United States, Kerry was improving. Her hair was starting to grow and her injuries were healing well. It was time to for the family to push Kerry a bit more to provide them with an explanation of what happened. At first she said she couldn’t remember anything, that the events were foggy in her mind. One reason Little Jody invited Kerry to live with her was she hoped Kerry would eventually remember and tell her the truth. She thought Kerry needed time to mend both physically and mentally, and then the truth would come out. 

Little Jody’s thinking was shared by the rest of the family. While recuperating, Kerry could rebuild her connection with her sisters and grandparents – her living family. Time and closeness with them would help weaken any connection Kerry had with Gary and compel her to tell them what really happened. Plus, the geographical distance between Gary and Kerry would lessen any fear that she felt. Only then, Little Jody believed, Kerry would feel safe enough to be honest. She decided that giving Kerry space and support was the best course of action. 

Kerry lived with Little Jody for about six months. During that time Kerry told her, and the FBI, a number of varying stories of the events that occurred on the Spellbound. One time, she fell out of bed and hit her head on the trunk, but she’s not sure how she fractured her skull. Another time, Gary raped her after he hit her on the head with a wrench. At first, she claimed she didn’t know what happened to Dad. Then, she said he fell because he was hit in the head by the boom. Still later, she said that Dad lost his balance and fell against the wheel. The only consistency in her stories was that Jody died by a self-inflicted bullet wound to the head. 

Kerry could not, or would not, give a time line of the events. The family started to think that perhaps Loren and Jody had died at the same time. Or, maybe Kerry was hurt when they died. Maybe Gary hurt his wrist when his parents died or when Kerry was injured and not on the winch three days earlier. Or, maybe not. Everyone was tired of all of the stories. Why wouldn’t Kerry tell the truth, they wondered. Her lack of forthcoming seemed to lend support to the idea of her involvement. 

Little Jody was angry with Kerry for telling so many conflicting stories. After six months, she told Kerry she would no longer be welcome in her home if she wouldn’t tell the truth. By then, Kerry was ready to move on. She lived with Bobbie for a while and then went and visited Larry in San Diego. Larry thought he could get Kerry to talk. Kerry just wanted to get away from the notoriety the tragedy had brought her. The family thought she might have been running from memories, or maybe Gary. But, she never indicated she was scared of Gary She told Larry the same stories, with the same inconsistencies, as she’d told Little Jody in Seattle 

The family was frustrated with Lori, too. After their arrival at the airport, she was whisked away by her parents, Dick and Rosie Huey, and was rarely heard from afterwards. Dick and Rosie were Jody and Loren’s best friends. They never called any of the Edwards kids to ask how they were, to offer their condolences, or to see if any of them needed help. They did attend a stateside memorial for Jody and Loren, but after this the family never heard from the Hueys again. The only exception was Lori, who visited Bobbie briefly a couple of times. Once during these visits, when Bobbie asked her what happened, Lori mentioned aliens as a possible cause of Loren and Jody’s death. Another time she said something must have hit the main cabin – perhaps a meteorite. Lori continued to say she didn’t hear anything during their deaths. The only explanation her mind could fathom was something otherworldly.

From the beginning, the family decided it would be best if they didn’t talk to the press.  This was their initial reaction because they were confused, emotional, and unsure of what had really happened.  While the deaths of their parents were horrific, the possibility that one or two of their siblings were somehow involved was tearing their family in two.  Kerry certainly wasn’t talking to the press – she wanted it all to go away so she could get back to being a young 20-something. Lori too wasn’t talking to the media as she acted like the whole thing had never happened.  This left Gary as the only one talking.  Unfortunately, it was not to the FBI, nor to the Grand Jury that was later convened, but to the press.  The stories Gary told the press changed often, just like Kerry’ accounts of what happened.  This meant the only story heard by the public was Gary’s versions of the tragedy.  The public believed Jody committed suicide and Loren died of an accident.  And so did Loren’s family.

Newspaper article from the Seattle Times, published April 30, 1978, “Son Tells of Spellbound Tragedies.”