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Ch 17: FBI Investigates

On Friday, March 3, 1978 the FBI office requested the U.S. Department of State to solicit cooperation from the French government regarding the incident onboard the Spellbound. They notified the French authorities that two FBI agents and a U.S. Coast Guard intelligence agent would be arriving in Papeete to investigate the odd deaths of Loren and Jody Edwards.  French gendarmes, who would accompany the agents throughout their entire investigation in French Polynesia, met the agents at the airport.

The first FBI report, filed on March 7, affirmed they established contact with Gary on the day they arrived.  They also spoke with Kerry’s physician in Papeete, who informed the FBI that her injury was extremely serious and required surgery in the U.S. immediately, which was why she had returned home so quickly.  The FBI also learned that Lori had already engaged an attorney in Seattle.  This meant field agents in Seattle would have to schedule an interview with her through her attorney. The FBI agents stated in their report that they would leave for Rangiroa shortly to conduct a crime scene search on the Spellbound after they questioned Gary in Papeete.

The agents spent all day Sunday, March 5, questioning Gary in their hotel room in Papeete.  When the brothers arrived at the agents’ room, they escorted Gary inside.  As they were shutting the door, one asked Larry, “How well do you know your brother?”  Larry was taken aback by this question.  They shared a room together 16 years.  Gary was the typical pesky little brother and a bit of a know-it-all.  How well did he know his brother now. he wondered?  It had been a decade since they’d shared close quarters; had Gary changed that much?

Larry was tired of waiting while Gary was questioned.  Since he arrived in Papeete, it seemed like all he had done was wait for his brother while others questioned him.  He wanted to know what the hell was going on.  His family was counting on him to find the answers.  He talked with Little Jody briefly on the first evening.  It was too expensive to make phone calls without anything new to say.  Patience was never one of Larry’s stronger characteristics.  He waited in the hall and wondered what the FBI knew that he didn’t.  It didn’t take too long for him to find out. 

During a break, an agent came out of the room to get some air.  Larry asked the agent why they were talking to Gary and why the FBI was involved.  He told Larry that the doctor in Seattle indicated Kerry’s injuries could not have been accidental.  Her injuries could only have resulted from being struck by a blunt object such as a wrench, winch handle, or the butt of a gun.  Likely, she was struck from behind given the shape and location of the injury.  Larry’s jaw dropped, “How the hell could that have happened?” Larry shouted at the agent.  He didn’t know, only Gary and Kerry, and perhaps Lori did. 

On Monday, March 6th, the agents accompanied Larry and Gary to Rangiroa to examine the Spellbound. They found her moored in the lagoon about 150 yards from the Kia Ora Hotel dock, floating serenely as if nothing had happened. Larry and Gary consented to having the Spellbound searched and walked the agents through the boat.  

It was late and everyone was tired.  The agents stated they would come back the next day for a more thorough examination.  Larry tried to talk to Gary but to no avail.   It was a hard night for him alone on the boat with his thoughts.  He still wasn’t ready to think Gary had killed his parents, but the evidence was pushing him in that direction. 

The next morning, the agents spent a couple of hours examining the Spellbound.  One agent told Larry he thought the examination would be unproductive, as the boat had been cleaned of most visible evidence and his parents’ belongings had been given away.  As the agents moved through the boat, Gary always seemed to be busy with something, but remained within earshot as they worked.  Larry openly followed the agents, watching what interested them and why.  The agents noted there was no damage to the wheel of any kind.  They found a rust colored stain on the deck of the cockpit and darker coloration around the two drains that flanked the steering wheel.  There were also dark stains in the corners where the benches met the cockpit floor. The stains got lighter as they extended toward the front of the cockpit area.

Blood-like spots were also found on the plate that covered the lower steering housing under the wheel.  The spots ran diagonally across the face of the plate at approximately 45 degrees from the upper right hand corner to the lower left hand corner.  The spotting continued to the port-side (right) of the wheel housing.  The agents bored holes into the deck to take back samples.  Inside the main cabin there was a blood-like stain (12 inches in length) found under the seat cushion of the couch located against the aft (rear) cabin wall where Kerry slept.  Another stain, four inches long and half an inch wide, was found under the cushion as well.  Additionally, there were stains on the back edge of the seat cushion.

When the agents were finished gathering samples they asked Gary to walk them through the events that resulted in Kerry’s injury and Loren and Jody’s deaths.  Larry was glad to finally hear what happened – the agents could make his brother talk.  Gary explained that Kerry hurt herself in the cabin while he was on deck steering, so he wasn’t sure what happened.  He showed the agents the chest with metal corners in front of the couch where Kerry normally slept.  He speculated, “She probably fell out of bed and hit her head there,” Gary pointed. “Everyone else was asleep,” he told the agents. When he saw that Kerry was hurt he woke up his parents.  Gary recalled, “Jody started to administer first aid.

In the chaos that followed, Gary told the agents, the Spellbound crew did not pay close attention to their direction and got lost.  “Why didn’t your Dad or Mom call for medical help when you realized Kerry was injured?” an agent interrupted Gary. 

“I don’t know, probably because they were busy trying to help her.  Dad asked me to figure out where we were once he realized we were lost.”  Gary continued that he was on deck trying to locate some kind of landmark to help them figure out where they were when he thought he saw an atoll.  “Dad,” he said, “I think I see an atoll up ahead?” Gary had hollered down into the main cabin.  Gary continued to tell the agents what happened in an even voice, “When Dad stepped out onto the deck he lost his balance and hit his head on the wheel.” Gary shrugged and continued, “Mom and I carried him into the main cabin.  He was bleeding quite a bit from his head injury.  Mom tried to resuscitate him with no luck.” 

“Where are the clothes you were wearing at the time?” an agent asked.  Gary responded that he couldn’t remember, likely laundered by the hotel. 

“And where was Kerry at this time?” the other agent asked.

 “On the couch,” Gary answered.  

“And your mother?” 

“Mom was distraught and distant.  She stayed with Kerry for a while and then took her shift at the helm,” Gary stated without any emotion.  “Not long after she started her shift, I was on the bow and I heard a shot,” Gary told the agents.

“Where was Lori at this time?” an agent inquired. 

“She was inside somewhere,” Gary replied.  “You see, Mom was dead. She shot herself.  We were lost. I’d hurt my wrist earlier and I couldn’t figure out where we were,” Larry barely heard Gary saying. 

“How did you hurt your wrist?” an agent probed.  Now Gary raised his voice, “I’ve answered that question a hundred times and I won’t answer it again.” 

“Okay, what happened to your parents’ bodies,” the agent further questioned.

“The girls and I decided to bury them at sea. It was hot and we were lost,” Gary replied sharply.  Larry could hardly make out the words now.

Hearing the story again and walking through the motions onboard the Spellbound, Larry could see how suspicious it all sounded.  If Gary had hurt his wrist so badly that he couldn’t even hold a sextant, how could he have carried Dad?  And Mom, she knew first aid.  She would never have left her daughter’s side to drift around lost at sea, then take her own life in such a messy way.  And, how did Kerry hurt herself?  Larry’s mind was racing.  Kerry’s voice broke through his thoughts, “You know what they say: ‘Incest is best.’”  He overheard Kerry telling Lori this while they were sitting in the cockpit in San Diego when he was in the main cabin. 

Could Kerry and Gary have been having sex then?  The thought was revolting given they were half-siblings and raised as a family.  But, he thought it could have been possible.  He didn’t think it started before the trip.  There were no indications in his memory that such a relationship existed before even though he hadn’t spent much time with any of his siblings after he left for college.

An agent was talking to Larry.  “What?” Larry responded. 

Your brother buried the bodies at sea. I’m sorry you didn’t have a chance to say goodbye.” “Yes, thank you,” Larry replied.  Larry was annoyed, that was all the agent had to say after hearing Gary’s irrational story. Yes, it certainly was a story.  

“Well, what I mean to say is that there are two sleeping bags, a sail cover, and more than 175 pounds of sail chain missing,” the agent stammered.  The agents surmised that Loren and Jody’s bodies were stuffed into the sleeping bags and wrapped in a sail cover and chain and dropped into the sea.  Larry looked at Gary for confirmation, but he only shrugged again.  The currents could have swept their bodies anywhere.  Loren and Jody lay somewhere at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean.

The agents located and confiscated four weapons on the Spellbound: a .22 rifle owned by Gary, a 30-30 rifle that Loren owned, a shotgun that was owned by Jody’s first husband, Robert Peet, and Gary’s 9 mm pistol. They also took a wrench and winch handle.  Finally, the agents put all of the logbooks and Loren’s journal, the blood samples, weapons, and books into a box and turned to go.

Before they left, Larry took one of the agents aside and asked if they had any idea what the motive could have been.  “No,” the agent shook his head, stating that any ideas of motive would be purely speculative.  Larry asked if he could see the logbook that Dad kept.  “No,” the agent said again.  Frustrated, Larry asked if there was an entry about Gary’s wrist being injured.  The agent nodded telling him there was such a journal entry. The agent continued, telling Larry that the inconsistencies in the stories did indicate further investigation was necessary.  No shit, Larry thought, especially after his confrontation with his brother the night before when Gary refused to answer his questions. 

While Larry’s first night sleeping on the Spellbound hadn’t been very restful, tonight it would be almost impossible to sleep. His brain kept wandering to all of the possible scenarios that led to his parents’ deaths.  Over the next few days, a routine developed: Gary and Larry readied the boat to sail to Papeete and the agents returned to ask more questions.  When Larry was able to listen, he noted that the story Gary told differed at times.  Gary didn’t know how Kerry was hurt and then he did.  Dad’s accident changed.  Sometimes Dad fell due to his balance being off and hit his head on the wheel and sometimes the boom came loose and hit Dad in the head.  Mom shot herself.  They were lost so they buried the bodies at sea. That was the order of events according to Gary.

When the agents finally left Rangiroa, Larry tried again to get Gary to tell him what really happened on the Spellbound.  Larry told his brother, “I know there is something you are not telling us!” 

Gary was dismissive, saying “I know a lot of things.  I know math, economics, accounting . . .” 

Larry knew at that moment he would never get the truth from his brother no matter how hard he tried.  He would have to focus on his sister or perhaps Lori.  If Kerry and Gary were having sex, perhaps it was the shame of this that was preventing her from telling the FBI what happened.  Larry hoped that she would tell Little Jody or Bobbie the truth.

That night was the first time Larry lay in bed wondering if he would be next.  On his way to his bunk, he grabbed the first thing he saw that he could use as a weapon, a wrench, to defend himself in case his brother came knocking.  How ironic.  Perhaps this is what Gary did, angry with Kerry that she wouldn’t have sex with him anymore.  He’d grabbed a wrench from the tool bench across from his bed.  After all, Gary’s room was also the workroom, he thought.  Larry gripped the wrench and crawled into his bunk.  He didn’t sleep.  By the second night, he was able to sleep a bit but he still clutched the wrench to his chest much like small children do with a lovie to comfort themselves to sleep. 

Larry was relieved and somewhat surprised when Randi from the Restless Wind invited Gary for an overnight diving trip in the bay Saturday night.  He wondered how much Randi suspected about Gary’s involvement in his parents’ deaths.  Perhaps Randi invited Gary to probe for details, and perhaps Gary would tell him.  Larry was just happy he would have a night without his brother aboard. He pulled out a bottle of gin and drank himself into a deep sleep.  Gary and Randi didn’t discuss anything other than diving that night. 

When Gary returned, he and Larry looked for a couple of crewmembers to help them sail the Spellbound from Rangiroa to Papeete.  Larry decided he wouldn’t ask his brother for more details as it wasn’t accomplishing anything and they had to get the boat to Tahiti.  When the Spellbound sailed into Papeete on Saturday, March 18th, the gendarmes met the boat at the quay.  Larry secretly hoped they were there to arrest Gary.  Alas, they were there for money. The boat was impounded until payment of $3,300.00 for search and rescue services, Kerry’s medical bills, and ironically, coffins, was paid in full. Larry didn’t have that much money. He’d used his savings to make the last-minute trip to Tahiti.  Gary had some funds left from his car accident, but refused to use his money. No funds could come from Loren and Jody’s estate until it was settled, so the brothers were at an impasse.

If Larry still wanted to have a job when he returned to San Diego, he needed to leave soon.  He was conflicted about this.  Should he stay and continue to press Gary or go to Seattle and see what he could do there before having to return home to San Diego.  Gary, on the other hand, had plenty of time, so the gendarmes allowed him to continue to live on the boat. He had no incentive to leave.  Then an opportunity presented itself.  The movie “Overboard” was being filmed in Papeete, and the producers wanted to use the boat in the film.  The money generated from this was used to pay some of the expenses owed the French government.

Realizing that Gary was not going to add anything else to the story, Larry flew to Seattle and arrived on Wednesday, March 22.  It was a difficult decision to leave, but Larry thought he could learn more from Kerry and Lori in Seattle.  On the flight home, he ran different scenarios in his head that could have resulted in the deaths of his parents and Kerry’s injury – something other than the possibility that his brother had sex with his sister and then killed their parents.  He kept coming back to drugs.  It was a likely prospect, as Gary, Kerry, and Lori all did drugs.  That was the one option that didn’t sound so much like a goddamn Greek tragedy.  Once settled in Seattle, Larry met with Jack, now the head agent assigned to the Edwards’ FBI file, and asked him about the likelihood that drugs were involved.  The agent looked at him for a long time, sighed, and said, “Drugs weren’t involved. We think your brother killed your parents.”  If this was true, Larry hoped the upcoming Grand Jury would indict him. “Everything depends on the girls’ testimony,” Jack told him.

On April 1, 1978, a memorial service was held at Green’s Colonial Chapel in Kirkland, Washington for Loren and Jody Edwards.  The little chapel was filled to the brim with friends and family.  Larry, Bobbie, Kerry and Little Jody were quite meticulous in their choice of music.  They played Jody’s favorite song, “I am Woman” by Helen Reddy followed by Loren’s favorite, “Gentle on My Mind” by Glenn Campbell. As the service ended, they selected the “Impossible Dream” to be played.  Isn’t that the truth! While everyone listened to the minister, you could hear a pin drop.  You could also notice a rift between the families developing, with the Edwards on one side of the aisle believing Gary and Kerry’s story and the Howatsons (Jody’s maiden name) on the other side, steadfastly refusing to accept that Jody killed herself.

After the service, they held a wake at the home of Rosie and Dick, Lori’s parents, and Loren and Jody’s best friends.  It was their one and only contribution towards helping with the Edwards children with the death of their parents.  The wake was a potluck.  People exchanged stories about Loren and Jody.  They drank.  The mood was somewhat light. After the wake, the Edwards family never heard from the Dick and Rosie again.  Little Jody, Bobbie, and Kerry could have used the advice of trusting friends from their parents’ generation.  But none came.  Not long after this, Larry returned to San Diego to try and pick up the pieces of his life.

Gary remained in Tahiti watching the Spellbound, enjoying island life.  He informed the family that returning to Seattle would only force him to mentally accept his parents’ deaths, and by remaining in Papeete he could postpone his grief.  Kevin, the marine biologist who had been so helpful in guiding the Spellbound to safety and cleaning up afterwards, moved onboard.  Gary’s French girlfriend lived with him as well.

The rift deepened in the family when Kerry refused her Grandmother’s invitation to visit. Hazel Howatson, Jody’s mom, wanted to hear from her granddaughter’s own lips what happened to her little girl.  Kerry never saw her grandmother again.  She preferred not to talk about that weekend in the South Pacific and estranged herself from her grandparents and eventually the rest of the family rather than tell the truth.  Her son to this day likely doesn’t know about his mom’s controversial past.

Kerry and Lori finally testified before a Grand Jury on April 8, 1978.  As the proceedings were held in secret, the family heard little of what was said behind closed doors.  Lori retreated behind her attorney and her mom and dad.  She did not want to talk to anyone. Her mom and dad sheltered her from the storm.  Lori was lucky to have two sets of parents, now that one was dead the other was there to protect her.

DID YOU KNOW . . . About Grand Juries?

Kerry and Lori described the gunshot wound to Jody’s head in a similar fashion.  Both said that Jody’s face was injured and there was a lot of blood – basically that her face was “gone” after the shot.  Perhaps this was sufficient information for a forensic investigator to tell how Jody might have attained the wound.  Four independent medical examiners reached one common conclusion about Jody’s wounds: it must have come from a point blank shot of less than 3 feet.  Most said that a shot to the back of the head would generally explode the front head.  One stated that he thought it was most likely a shot up through the chin.  The gases from the exiting projectile would enter the mouth and cause more traumatic damage to the face.  Another said only an exit wound could have created such an injury. 

One examiner did mention that the small amount of time Kerry and Lori claimed to have viewed Jody’s injuries combined with the shock of the event could have altered their perception of what they thought they saw.  To a medical examiner who sees blood, mutilation, and gore every day, describing a face as “gone” is a lot different from what the average person would think.  Perhaps the wound wasn’t as bad as the women thought; they only caught a glimpse of it.  The blood could have obscured the severity of the wound.  Lori and Kerry, according to their account, never saw her body again.

The Grand Jury prompted Kerry suddenly to remember a bit more of what happened that night.  She told the family that she remembered waking up with a pillow on her face.  She couldn’t breathe very well.  She was scared.  Gary was straddling her.  She blacked out. There was blood on her face.  Her head hurt.  She was on the floor.  As she crawled to the couch, her knee hit something hard on the floor.  When she reached down to see what it was, her hand gripped a large wrench.  She blacked out again.  Mom was then beside her, cleaning her face.  There was a crash.  Then she remembered Dad on the floor in the main cabin.  There was blood everywhere.  She saw blackness again.  There was a loud crack. Kerry sat up in time to see Mom’s bloody face outside, blood all over the window of the main cabin, and then she was unconscious again.

While Gary was not in Seattle and therefore couldn’t testify before the Grand Jury, he was talking to anyone in Tahiti who wanted to listen.  He talked more with the gendarmes, random tourists, and to reporters.  While Gary was talking to everyone, he was saying very little.  The French continued to hold Gary’s passport, stranding him in Tahiti where he basked in the spotlight.

A reporter from the Seattle Times (in Papeete to cover another story) interviewed Gary for more than four hours.  Gary speculated during the interview that his dad lost his balance and hit the steering wheel, or the boom came loose and knocked him out.  He wasn’t sure which had occurred.  Gary told the reporter that Kerry and his father were not working together in the cockpit, as previously reported.  He found Kerry on the couch moaning with a pillow over her head.  Then, two hours later, Loren had his fall. This is contrary to another news story published by the Seattle Times where a Ham operator stated that Kerry told him both her and Loren were injured at the same time. Gary further explained to the reporter that he and his mom tried to revive Loren.  He recounted that Jody then spent the rest of the day in the cockpit outside in shock.  Then, about 24 hours after Loren died, Gary stated that Jody shot herself with his pistol.  Lori was in the main cabin for some reason he couldn’t remember and Kerry was lying on the couch.  Gary was setting a sail when it happened.  The article was published in the Seattle Times on the front page of the Sunday edition on April 30th.

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

On April 26, 1978, two FBI agents from Hawaii flew to Tahiti to question Gary again and to collect additional evidence from the boat.  Of course they found the boat clean, but science could yield evidence that the naked eye could not see.  After conducting a more scientific blood analysis, the agents found blood everywhere in the main cabin.  They were surprised to discover the main cabin was saturated. There was blood behind objects, in corners, and in places that only a close gunshot wound or blow to the head could have caused. They did not find blood anywhere else inside the boat.

In July, the probate court in Seattle ordered Gary to return the Spellbound to Washington. Larry decided he should move back to Seattle to assist in settling Loren and Jody’s estate and to help the family through the tragedy.  Facing contempt of court charges, Gary paid the money required by the French government and received permission to leave French Polynesia.  Gary bought the necessary provisions and hired two people as crew to help him make the month-long journey back to the U.S.  He decided to sail to Hawaii and then onto Seattle.  This was the easiest route as the trade winds blow in that direction.

A month later Gary sailed the Spellbound to Richmond, California.  Even though he was ordered by the probate court to take the Spellbound to Seattle and the trade winds make that the easiest destination from Hawaii, Gary decided to sail to California instead. Gary told a newspaper he took the boat to Richmond as there was nothing for him in Seattle anymore.  Gary stayed in California.

Still trying to piece together the truth, the FBI decided it would be best to give Kerry a lie detector test.  In October of 1978, Kerry failed her first test.  She told Little Jody and Bobbie she lied to the Grand Jury and she would lie to the FBI.  She said she would never tell what happened.  Jack assured the family that he would get the truth from Kerry – it was only a matter of time. On November 16, 1978, Jack flew to San Francisco to interview Gary again.

FBI Polygraph Request for Kerry Edwards.

When he returned, he met with Larry, Little Jody, and Bobbie to collect Jody’s hairbrush to obtain DNA samples.  Jack told them Kerry admitted to having a sexual relationship with Gary, and that when the Spellbound reached the Marquesas Islands, Kerry informed Gary their relationship was over.  He said Kerry told her step-brother she had plenty of other men to entertain her now.  Then, one night, when it was Gary’s turn to take the helm and everyone else was asleep, Gary approached her.  Jack continued to relay the events: Gary wanted to have sex with Kerry but she refused.  It was at this point that Gary assaulted and raped her.  Jack told them that Kerry refused to testify, as she didn’t want anyone to know about her relationship with Gary.  This confirmed what Little Jody and Larry thought.  They were convinced that Kerry had done something that triggered the events that resulted in their parents’ deaths and this was why she was refusing to tell the truth; she felt somehow responsible.  Did Loren and Jody die at the same time defending their daughter from their son?

Kerry’s testimony was useless since she changed her story each time she testified.  She started out saying she didn’t know what happened, that she said hadn’t seen anything.  Another time she stated she woke up and her head hurt and she had white sticky stuff all over her legs.  Gary was straddling her.  When she woke up, there was a pillow on her face and Gary was in the cockpit.  Her head hurt.  Kerry heard a crash and then Dad was injured.  In another version, Kerry and Loren were working in the cockpit and both were hit by the boom when it came loose.  In all of her iterations, there was one constant – how her mom died.  Jody was in the cockpit steering when Kerry heard a shot. She sat up and saw her mom’s face covered in blood.  She saw Gary out of the corner of her eye behind Mom.  Kerry says she never saw the body.  Gary took care of everything as she was unable to move much.

Gary visited Seattle a couple of times.  First, in November he showed up unexpectedly at Bobbie’s house in Kirkland, Washington.  Loren and Jody purchased the house as an investment and Bobbie bought it from them before they left for the South Pacific.  Bobbie rented the house to Little Jody and Kerry not long after Kerry returned from Papeete. It was a small two-bedroom house on three quarters of an acre.  Little Jody was in the yard when she looked up and saw Gary in the circular driveway.  He said he wasn’t in town for long and just needed a place to crash for the night.  The sisters give Gary one bedroom and took the other.  That night, Kerry fell asleep easily while Little Jody barred the door and kept watch all night to protect herself, her daughter, and her sister.  Gary left early the next morning.  Little Jody wondered how Kerry could sleep like a baby in a room next to the man who – according to her own Grand Jury testimony – raped and critically wounded her.  Maybe there was more to what had happened.

Vernie, Jody’s sister, and Vivian, Loren’s sister, were appointed co-executrices of Loren and Jody’s estate.  Loren and Jody wrote a new will before they left for the South Pacific.  They stored the will somewhere in a secret compartment onboard the Spellbound.  No one knew where the compartment was.  In a storage locker Joanne and Loren rented before they left, the family found a will they executed when their kids were young.  This was used to distribute their assets. 

Vivian and Vernie flew to San Francisco to inspect the Spellbound and to talk with Gary after he arrived with the boat.  After they checked into a hotel, they took a taxi straight to the marina.  Gary invited them aboard the Spellbound.  Vivian gave Gary a big hug and thanked him for all he had done for the family.  Vernie, on the other hand, was scared and refused to touch him.  They chatted on deck for a while about Gary’s trip from Papeete to California, about the movie “Overboard,” and about the weather.  After a bit they walked over to a little restaurant near the marina.  Over dinner, the aunts asked Gary for details.  He played with his food and said nothing.  Vivian pushed him a bit and he said something about the weather. Later that night Vernie couldn’t sleep in her hotel room.  She was afraid of what Gary may have done and what he could do.  The next day they inventoried all of the items onboard the Spellbound and asked Gary if he would be willing to drive the things up to Seattle. 

In February 1979, Gary drove to Seattle to deliver the remainder of the personal items from the Spellbound as requested by Vivian and Vernie. This was his second visit to the area since his parents’ deaths.  Gary drove to Vernie’s house to see where to unload the car.  She told him to meet her at the storage locker where Loren and Jody’s things were stored.  At the locker, Vernie asked Gary again what had really happened.  He shrugged and said he already told the story.  Vernie called him a liar and stomped off.

In June 1979, the Spellbound was sold to Ralph Neil for $110,000.  Ralph bought the boat for its notoriety.  He was somewhat of a cowboy.  Ralph moored the Spellbound in various marinas in Western Washington until his death in 2008.  Besides updating some equipment, he never changed a thing on the Spellbound.  The curtains Jody made, the shag carpeting Loren and Jody chose together, the dresser Jody bought at a garage sale – all remained the same.  Ralph loved the Spellbound and it was his home for almost thirty years.  He never did find the secret compartment that everyone looked for. After his death, his son inherited the boat.

Later, when the boat was emptied of all its contents and being readied for sale, Ralph’s grandson found the secret compartment.  It took him a few hours of searching.  The compartment was under a false shelf in Loren and Jody’s cabin.  Loren did an excellent job of concealing it, using false screws to make it look like the rest of the shelves.  Inside was a jade unicorn necklace.  Is it possible Gary found the compartment and placed the inexpensive trinket there?  Many in the family remember “The Unicorn Song” by the Irish Rovers being Kerry’s song.  Maybe Gary was trying to tell us something by placing it there.  It is doubtful Gary removed the newer will if he found it earlier for financial gain as the Loren and Jody’s estate wasn’t worth very much – under $150,000.00.

The FBI asked Kerry to take another polygraph test on December 21, 1979 and she failed again.  Jack flew again to San Francisco on January 17, 1980 to question Gary.  When he returned, he arranged for Little Jody, Larry, and Kerry to meet on board the Spellbound. Jack thought that if they took her to the Spellbound, the shock of being on the boat would prompt her to tell the truth.  Kerry showed up in a see-through white blouse with a lot of attitude.  Ralph was much impressed with her bounce.  They weren’t on board the boat very long. In fact, they never entered the main cabin.  While standing on the Spellbound's deck, Kerry told everyone that she and Gary were definitely not having sex.

 “I just can't remember how I hurt myself!” she claimed. Then she paused, closed her eyes and said, “I do remember seeing Gary with something shiny in his hand behind Mom after she was shot.” Kerry stopped again.  They could see her shaking.  Kerry looked around and whispered, “I can't do this,” and ran away, leaving them all standing on deck staring after her.

The rift in the family was complete after this incident. Little Jody decided she didn’t want to see Kerry again until she was ready to tell the truth.  About ten years later, Little Jody received a call from Kerry saying she wanted to talk.  Kerry showed up at Little Jody’s house in Seattle.  Kerry talked about her job, her boyfriend, her son Ryan, and many other pleasantries but said nothing about the Spellbound.  About a week later she wanted to visit again.  When Kerry knocked on the door, Little Jody opened it and said, “Unless you are going to tell me what really happened to our parents, I don’t want to see you.”  Kerry turned and walked away and Little Jody hasn’t seen her since.

Gary was never questioned by the Grand Jury as he refused to return to Seattle. The changes and inconsistencies in Kerry’s and Lori’s accounts of the events were insufficient for the Grand Jury to issue an indictment. By the time Gary did return to Seattle, the district attorney had already decided he couldn’t prosecute on circumstantial evidence based on such unreliable testimony.

During this time Jack was still investigating.  He visited Lori every couple of months at a bar on Bainbridge Island where she worked as a waitress. He pressed her for more information, but she never had anything else to add.  He met with my mom, Kerry, and sometimes me on a somewhat regular basis.  In January 1980, the FBI concluded that the Edwards’ deaths were murder on the high seas and the burial at sea was not necessary since the vessel was only a half-day’s journey from port just prior to their deaths. Since the district attorney would not prosecute, the FBI returned to the family the personal items that were confiscated from the boat.  Larry requested that the pistol be destroyed.  The other weapons confiscated by the FBI went missing.

FBI Request for Destruction of the Walther PPK Pistol

Eventually, the family was able to read the returned logbooks and journals.  Little Jody and Larry read them over and over again looking for some clue.  One big question that arose was whether the last journal entry was forged.  While the Spellbound was lost at sea, did Gary forge an entry into Loren’s journal to account for his hurt wrist?  Larry couldn’t tell for sure, but he thought the writing was different.  Perhaps Gary hurt his wrist during some sort of altercation with his Dad (or Kerry) rather than being hit by the winch earlier, as the journal states.  Did he fabricate an alibi for himself while they were supposedly lost at sea?  There is no analysis in the FBI report of Loren’s handwriting or the journal.

The last page from Loren Edward's journal was supposedly written on the 23rd of February, 1978.  The writing at the end of the entry with the initials “J.B.J” belong to the FBI agent who collected the journal on the 5th of March 1978.  Was this entry fabricated? What do you think?

The Last Page Loren’s Journal

Larry moved back to San Diego to move on with his life.  He fell in love with a wonderful woman.  In 1987, Janis and Larry were married.  Everyone, except Gary, was invited to the wedding.  Little Jody watched Bobbie’s daughter so she could fly down with Kerry to take part in the celebration.  Kerry and Bobbie continued to see each other irregularly.  While in San Diego, Kerry became pregnant and her son was born nine months later.  I’ve wondered if he knows about the story of the Spellbound and his grandparents. What does his mother tell him about why her family doesn’t want to speak with her? What does she say about the scar above her right eye? 

My hope in writing this book is that someone out there will have information or more imagination and smarts than I do to solve the mystery of my grandparent’s death.  To my surprise, in speaking to my family about what happened on the Spellbound, I learned that my great aunt Joy, my grandmother Jody’ sister, had received an anonymous memo at work. Joy worked for Puget Power when a letter was delivered to her desk. It had no postmark or signature: 


I was staying at a hotel in Papeete when your niece and nephew arrived from the Spellbound. We spent time with Jody and Loren in Nuku Hiva and left about two weeks before they did. I thought you should know that there were big fights on the Spellbound and lots family disagreements. At the time, it seemed like the usual family squabbles resulting from living in such close quarters, but now that the authorities seem be mounting a case against Gary, we thought you should now.

Also, I have a friend who was on board a boat with a doctor near the Spellbound and heard her SOS. My friend's boat tried to approach the Spellbound, they wanted to board to offer medical assistance, and Gary wouldn't allow them to.

In 1983 the FBI officially ended its investigation into the murder of Loren and Jody Edwards due to insufficient evidence.  The case is still considered an open FBI file because there is no statute of limitation on murder.  Should sufficient evidence be brought to light, a conviction is still possible against those involved.  While official FBI involvement was over, Jack continued to check in with Little Jody.  This was the case that would haunt him. The FBI bungled the initial interrogation of Kerry, Lori and Gary. Perhaps if a more experience agent had conducted the interviews, I would not be sitting here asking you to solve this crime.   But perhaps not.   Kerry, Lori, and Gary were alone on the Spellbound from Thursday evening, the last time someone spoke with Loren, until Saturday evening.  Maybe they were a bunch of lost and scared kids as they say.  Maybe they spent the time planning their story of what happened to cover up their guilt.  Only they know.