12.30.2008  
 
Editor's Note
Norwegian Pearl
Mystery on the High Seas?

What do you do when a suicide happens on a cruise ship? If you are the national media don't just theorize, sensationalize! Word of a missing-person tragedy on a cruise ship came in over the weekend, and despite the lack of any evidence to the contrary, over 1000 news reports are ready to make a "federal case" out it - literally.

Jennifer Seitz was cruising with her husband, Ray, and her mother who lives with them. Described as "loud and wild" by passengers who also participated in a "not-so-newlywed" game onboard - broadcast on the ship's closed circuit television - Jennifer was also described as "excitable."

A news report says a witness in an adjacent cabin heard an argument at 8:00 on Thursday night from stateroom 11112, a mini-suite far astern on one of the top decks of Norwegian Pearl. The words "stop hitting me," were reported, but not who said them. The events for the rest of the night are unclear, but no one saw Jennifer after 8:00. Ray and her mother apparently enjoyed the ship and then went to bed, expecting Jennifer to show up when she had cooled down.

At 3:30 Ray awoke and realized Jennifer was not in the room and notified the ship's officers. A surveillance tape pointed at the side of the ship was accessed and revealed a grainy image suggesting a person dressed all in white went overboard at 8:00 pm from the stateroom balcony. The stateroom was sealed but Ray was not arrested. Ray and Jennifer's mother were relocated until the cruise ended Sunday morning.

When the ship arrived in Miami the FBI boarded immediately and interviewed Ray, other witnesses and inspected the stateroom. A picture of the FBI measuring a chair placed right against the ship's railing was shown in an video during a 7-minute Monday morning NBC Today Show segment.

The fact that Ray was never arrested by the ship's staff or the FBI, that the chair was placed in a step-up position on the deck next to the railing and that the person on the videotape was described as "falling" from deck 11 all point to a suicide. There were no reported signs of a struggle. Only one news report said the FBI has eliminated Ray as a suspect.

Several web sites and major news organizations led this story down the oh-so typical path of "danger on the high seas" trying to turn an apparent suicide into a crime as they always do when a cruise ship is involved. Most of these news reports note that at least six people have "disappeared" from cruise ships this year, but not one of them mentions suicide as the reason, that some 12,000,000 people took a cruise in 2008 or that no charges were ever brought forth in any of the cases.


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