Lawyer Suggests Missing Cruise Passenger's Wife Was Drugged

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Associated Press
Friday, January 6, 2006

MIAMI, Jan. 5 -- An attorney for the parents of a man who disappeared from a cruise ship suggested Thursday that the man's newlywed wife, who was found unconscious far from their cabin, may have been drugged.

Brett Rivkind, the attorney for George Allen Smith IV's parents, said he does not have any evidence to prove his theory about why crew members found Jennifer Hagel-Smith sleeping in a corridor July 5, the night her husband disappeared on their Mediterranean honeymoon cruise between Turkey and Greece.

Rivkind said at a news conference that it has been difficult to get information about the case because Royal Caribbean has not been forthcoming. But William Wright, the cruise line's senior vice president of marine operations, said in his own news conference that the company has cooperated with investigators, including the FBI.

The Miami-based cruise line said in a statement Wednesday that Hagel-Smith was found sleeping in a corridor the night Smith vanished. She told crew members that the couple had been partying, the company said.

On Thursday, Hagel-Smith said she has no recollection of what happened. "Why I was there, why I was unconscious, I don't know," she said in a telephone interview.

Hagel-Smith said she passed an FBI polygraph test. Federal authorities have said she has cooperated with the probe.

No one has been charged in the disappearance of Smith, 26, of Greenwich, Conn. No body has been recovered, although bloodstains were found running from the balcony of Smith's cabin to lifeboats.

James M. Walker, Hagel-Smith's attorney, criticized the cruise line for not getting her medical help or noticing blood around the cabin.

Smith's family has accused Royal Caribbean of covering up the disappearance.

The company denies that and accuses Hagel-Smith and her attorney of waging a public relations campaign with false claims that she was mistreated.

Wright said he doubts Hagel-Smith was drugged, saying the crew members who found her did not notice anything unusual about her behavior.

"She woke up. She was cognizant. She was saying repeatedly that she was fine and that she simply wanted to go back to her cabin," he said Thursday.

The cruise line also said Wednesday that the FBI was investigating an alleged rape of a female passenger by the same three young men with whom Smith had last been seen. Wright said the couple had been hanging out frequently with the men before Smith's disappearance.

When Rivkind was asked whether the three men were involved in the disappearance, he said he would leave that up to the FBI, which has declined to comment.

Henry Lee, a forensic scientist who testified in O.J. Simpson's criminal trial and other high-profile cases, said that he will look into the case, at the request of Hagel-Smith's family.


© 2006 The Washington Post Company

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