Perry Cohen and Austin Stephanos, two longtime friends who both would have been 15-years-old, have been missing since July 24, 2015, when they took a fishing boat off the coast of Florida’s Jupiter Inlet. Their boat was found stranded 100 miles off the coast of Bermuda. Investigators are now uncovering clues that suggest that there may have been foul play involved in Cohen and Stephanos’ disappearance.
With the fishing boat’s discovery, Austin’s iPhone was recovered. Perry’s parents are now suing Austin’s parents for refusing to give the phone, which was heavily damaged by salt water, over to third-party investigators to see if any information can be recovered from Stephanos’ last phone interactions.
Cohen’s phone was broken before the boys had left, so they agreed to share Stephanos’ phone while on the boat. Cohen’s mother argues that because of that agreement, the phone is half hers. She believes that she will “continue to suffer irreparable harm if the iPhone is not properly handled as material evidence in a possible maritime crime or homicide.”
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First and foremost, my family and I would like to thank all of our extended family, friends, community and everyone else involved with our story for your support, compassion and love. The past 8 and a half months have been the most grueling and life shattering anyone could imagine. Two beautiful boys went out for a day of fun never to return or be heard from again. As Perry's mother – I have no choice but to do whatever is humanly possible to obtain any bit of information to what happened to him on that fateful day. You see, my days and nights are filled with haunting and terrifying questions – questions that seemed could, and never would be answered. Now there is a new hope, and all I am looking for is a proper investigation with the most astute authorities to do what they are best at. You see, I signed a consent form and turned over all of Perrys electronic devices to authorities without question so that it may lead them to some direction of where the boys may have been headed or what their plans were during the USCG search and rescue. Some of you may not agree with our choice to take this into the public forum or to fight to keep the phone with authorities; and that is ok. You are entitled to your opinion as we all are. We are only asking for transparency – it's that simple. All I want is the information available, if there is any, pertaining to the fateful day of their disappearance. I am not interested in exploiting the private and personal photos which may be recovered – this has never been our intention. I ask you, if you kissed your child goodbye, and never saw them again, without any information – I would believe that if evidence that could contain some answers to what happened to your beloved child were found, you would want a neutral party to properly and thoroughly investigate that evidence. This is what I will fight for until I can no longer fight. I will take my last breath fighting for my darling son Perry if it is necessary. ~ Pamela Cohen @perry.cohen @perryjcohenfoundation #bestboy #PJCF
Several of Cohen and Stephanos’ friends reported that they received Snapchats from the two boys of the Jupiter coast with the words “We’re F’d” on them. It is currently unclear as to what time the snaps were sent.
The two boys also reportedly sent “I love you” and “Just checking in” texts to their parents respectively when they were on the boat that morning.
Cell phone records indicate that Stephanos’ phone was within inshore waters at 12:2 p.m. that day. At 1:30 p.m., a storm with winds up to 40 miles an hour hit the Jupiter area. According to WPBF, investigators noticed that the boat’s battery had been switched off as the boat was being packed up to be sent back to Florida.
“We do know for sure that boat was disabled intentionally because the battery switch, which is very difficult to get to, was in the off position,” Cohen’s lawyer, Guy Rubin, told WPBF. “That can’t be maneuvered by the passage of time, the current or other events. If the storm came and capsized the boat, the battery switch and the key would not be in those positions.”
It is possible that the boys may have turned the boat off to conserve battery if they knew they were in trouble with the storm, but it also suggests that someone may have tampered with the boat before they left.
An emergency hearing scheduled for May 5 will determine whether the Stephanos family will have to make public the content of Austin’s iPhone. Austin’s father has posted continuously on social media, writing that they have “been working with the phone’s manufacturer who seems willing to help us try to get the phone operational again.”
A pilot believes that he may have seen one of the boys floating on his back to the east of St. Marys, Georgia, two days after the two boys went missing. The Coast Guard has not yet confirmed the sighting or any other reports about Cohen or Stephanos.