On July 5, 2005 a newly wedded man went missing while on his honeymoon. George Allen Smith IV had just married the woman of his dreams, Jennifer Hagel. After celebrating a beautiful wedding with family and friends in late June, the happy couple from Greenwich, Connecticut, embarked on a Mediterranean cruise for their honeymoon. Eleven days later, Smith had vanished either by accident or by murder.
By the night of the fateful event, the couple had already been on the ship for over a week. They were making new friends and enjoying all of the amenities provided by the Royal Caribbean’s Brilliance of the Seas cruise. They were comfortable in their surroundings and sometimes wandered off on their own separately to explore the ship.
On July 5, the couple partied hard at the casino on board, drinking heavily and gambling. Chatting with strangers that had become their friends, the night grew long and blurry. By morning, Jennifer was found passed out in a corridor which was quite a distance from their cabin. George was no where to be found and after an intense search of the entire ship, he was declared missing. Within the course of the day, the word murder was brought up.
It was all a mystery with hundreds of unanswered questions. Was it an accidental case of falling overboard? Was it a suicide by jumping off? Was foul play involved causing Smith to be murdered and tossed into the Aegean Sea? Only one fact remained. Smith was gone and his body had disappeared.
The happy, new bride became a distraught, young widow overnight. She thought possibly her husband had fallen overboard after their evening of rounds of drinks. She later admitted that Smith had been taking anti-depressant drugs and feared mixing them with alcohol could have caused his misjudgment. Hagel was looking for answers along with the investigators and the cruise line captain.
Smith’s parents, George III and Maureen, and sister, Bree, quickly became involved but distanced themselves from Hagel. They believed that there was much more to the story of their missing son and brother. They immediately suspected murder and forked out the necessary money to pursue the facts.
By the following year, a settlement was reached with Royal Caribbean in the amount of $1.1 million. Smith’s body still had not been found, relationships were broken and questions continued to haunt the family and investigators. The settlement was later amended to $1.3 million, which also allowed more evidence and facts to be brought to light. Surveillance camera footage from the night in question offered some hope, with three possible suspects laughing about Smith’s demise. Rusty Kofman, Zach Rozenberg and his brother Greg were required to take polygraph tests, but the results proved inconclusive.
The mystery surrounding the disappearance of George Allen Smith IV is still unsolved. Since then, Hagel remarried in 2009 and has formed a new life the best she can. George III, Maureen and Bree continue to search for answers. Recently, the family has offered a $100,000 reward for information that will directly lead to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for Smith’s death. They are hoping the cash reward will spur more facts to come to the surface.
The case is being revisited by a new team of FBI investigators, as well as being documented on television. CBS has worked closely with the family over the years and has aired several specials concerning the case. Murder at Sea? will be aired by CBS’s 48 Hours on July 5 at 10 p.m. EST. The ninth anniversary of Smith’s disappearance from his honeymoon cruise will focus on getting the answers that will hopefully bring this tragedy some closure.
By: Roanne FitzGibbon