In 1961, Dr. Arthur Dupperrault, a wealthy optometrist, and his wife Jean of Green Bay, Wisconsin, took their three children on a week-long adventure on a chartered yacht in the Bahamas. But what started as a dream vacation quickly became a nightmare as the boat’s captain went on a bloody rampage that would leave only one survivor.
The 60-foot boat, Bluebelle, was captained by Julian Harvey, a 44-year-old former Air Force pilot and war hero with terrible financial problems. Four days into the cruise, Harvey murdered his 34-year-old wife, Mary, for whom he had taken out a life insurance policy just days prior to the voyage.
In over his head, Harvey knew he couldn’t leave any witnesses. He had to kill the three children as well: Brian (14), Rene (7) and Terry (11). Terry would end up being the only survivor of Harvey’s bloodthirsty murder spree.
Terry Jo, who was asleep in her cabin at the time, told Fox News, “I was awakened by my brother screaming ‘Help, daddy, help.' It was the type of scream that you know that something horrible is happening.”
Terry Jo continued, “Later I heard screaming and stamping and I woke up and it went away, and I went upstairs to see what it was and I saw my mother and my brother laying on the floor and there was blood all over. I went up to the captain and he shoved me down.” It was a sight no child should ever have to witness.
Then Harvey let out the boat’s sea valves to deliberately sink it, hoping to cover up his savage crime scene. Waiting for the boat to shuttle, the crazed captain put young Terry Jo on a dinghy and handed her a line. He told her he’d be right back. Having the presence of mind of someone well beyond her years, Terry Jo suspected that Harvey was going to return with a murder weapon and so she let go of the line and set herself adrift into the Atlantic.
Eleven-year-old Terry Jo floated on the little dinghy for three whole days without food or water. She battled the boiling sun during the day and staved off hypothermia at night. Fifty years later, she told The Today Show, “I was never frightened. I was an outdoors child, and I loved the water. I had strong faith. I believed in God and I prayed for him to help me, and I just went with the flow.”
She was rescued by a Greek oceanliner halfway through her fourth day alone at sea.
Terry Jo told The Today Show, “Everybody was told not to speak to me about it, so I never was able to talk about it.”
But In the 1980s, Terry Jo began telling her close friends about her traumatic experience at sea. Her friends encouraged her to seek therapy, which helped her process the cold-blooded death of her family.