Smith family uses Facebook in cruise ship disappearance investigation

The family of George Smith, the Greenwich man who disappeared from his Royal Caribbean honeymoon cruise in 2005, has started a Facebook page in an attempt to help jump-start the investigation into his death.

“We were afraid that George’s murder investigation was getting cold after eight and a half years and we wanted to breathe new life into that investigation,” said Bree Smith, George’s sister. “Facebook is an excellent way to get the word out to many people simultaneously and spark new interest in solving George’s murder.”

Ms. Smith said Facebook has provided “a useful format to show George’s family, friends and the Facebook community at large newly revealed evidence from both the settlement documentation and Greenwich Probate Court transcript. We have also been able to reveal new information about our personal struggle for answers and justice for George.”

In September 2010, the Smith family, including his parents, George and Maureen, reached a $1.3-million settlement with Royal Caribbean cruise lines, and part of the settlement required the cruise company to hand over their investigative file to the Smiths. The Smith family had fought a losing legal battle over the “missing honeymooner’s” estate in Greenwich Probate court, contesting the $1.1-million settlement reached by his widow, Jennifer Hagel Smith, who has since remarried.

The Smith family said her settlement was reached without their knowledge and closed off critical channels of information because it ended Ms. Hagel Smith’s pursuit of her wrongful death lawsuit against Royal Caribbean.

Ms. Smith she is hopeful that the Facebook page, which features photos, postings derived from the settlements and probate documents and tips received by the Smith family, “will produce new leads about George’s murder and subsequent cover-up.”

“Every day we have new people asking to become ‘friends’ and encouraging our family’s quest for answers and justice,” Ms. Smith said. “Support from alumni of Greenwich High School and Babson College, where George attended, has been absolutely amazing.”

On the page, there have been several postings from the family speculating about the motive for Mr. Smith’s disappearance and presumed death.

“We believe that the most likely scenario involving George’s death was a robbery gone wrong,” Ms. Smith told the Post. “There were rumors that George had won money in the casino, though Royal Caribbean did not provide evidence of any casino winnings. Rumors that George had a significant amount of cash would provide a motive for a robbery and may have led to his death.”

Ms. Smith added that the family had some renewed hope about the investigation because the FBI’s New Haven division has a new chief and a new agent has been assigned as lead investigator on the case.

“A fresh set of eyes looking at George’s investigative file is always welcome,” she said. “We hope that the New York division and New Haven division of the FBI will work together to solve George’s murder case.”

The FBI’s New York office agreed to review the case in May 2013.

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