Henderson wants to confirm, once and for all, what happened to Venezuelan Lissette Brito, who disappeared from the yacht while sailing with her partner Alexander MacKinnon Roehrs, from Samoa to the Cook Islands.
There are too many inconsistencies surrounding the case, says Henderson. “The whole thing was wrong, and it’s still wrong, and this poor girl was lost at sea.”
Roehrs, travelling on both an Australian and Chilean passport, did not radio ahead to report Brito missing before he arrived in Rarotonga, and later attempted to sabotage and sink the vessel.
“His whole character was out of whack,” says Henderson.
Roehrs, an IT professional, who has at least two other aliases, had wiped the history, including GPS coordinates, from on-board computer equipment and allegedly also cleared Brito’s device.
Brito’s email communications with her sister, which had been prolific in weeks leading up to her disappearance, with around five contacts a day, stopped more than a week before the Zangano’s arrival.
Roehrs was detained by police when he arrived, and Henderson thinks they originally suspected him, although he was not arrested and was still free to leave the country after selling the yacht.
Cook Islands Police did, however, seize all of his electronic equipment which was subsequently sent to Australian Federal Police in Canberra for forensic analysis.
Henderson has since reached out to Brito’s sister, Luz Marina, in Venezuela, and has recovered 141 pages of tweets and emails (in Spanish) that she had kept.
Henderson says he is still working through the messages, using Google to translate them. But he says it’s already given him some insight into what life was like for her on board the Zangano with Roehrs.
Most of the messages are positive, says Henderson, and include an email that she wrote saying Roehrs was looking after her. However, also included was an email in which she told her sister she was still taking medication, and Henderson describes her as being potentially of fragile health.
Henderson does not want to disclose all of the communications as yet, if the case is to be further investigated. He has however provided CINews with a snapshot of a couple of emails sent to her sister in Venezuela.
Earlier communications talk of a potential marriage, as well as a possible pre-nuptial agreement that Roehrs insisted upon.
2015-11-20 08:16:23 a.m.: Lissette: I had never felt such peace with anyone, not even with HL. And that’s what I need. Someone take care of me, that I protect, which I accept and who loves me with all my problems... That is what I need in life, peace. And I believe I have found it.
In another message she writes that Roehrs was carrying most of his currency in gold bullion, which he subsequently traded from Rarotonga with a foreign exchange firm in New Zealand, and did not declare to Cook Islands Post or Customs, says Henderson.
2016-01-22 09:41:36 p.m.: Lissette: If we lose, take the latest published coordinates and go out to search for the boat, because although it is sunk, it is worth finding it: Alex carries all of his money in gold, hidden. We look like a Spanish galleon.