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S3 / EP24: Mysterious Cruise Ship Death of George Allen Smith

Updated: Apr 2

I'm a "land" girl, I've never been on a cruise, and may never go on one, with the exception of an Alaskan cruise because I heard those are pretty spectacular. Cruises sort of give me an uneasy feeling, and I don't mean sea sickness, but the feeling that pretty much anyone can be pushed or "fall" overboard and you'd never know it.

Take the case of Amy Lynn Bradley, who was on another Royal Caribbean cruise (is there a pattern here??) when she went missing in 1998 - she was never found. It was a similar situation to this case, she was at a nightclub the night before and returned to her cabin in the early morning hours, then she just vanished. Theories in that case run the gamut of sex trafficking to suicide and there have even been witnesses that have said they've spotted her in different locations. It's a bizarre case, and like this one, will leave you wondering "what the hell happened?"


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Transcribed Episode / S3 EP24: Mysterious Cruise Ship Death of George Allen Smith


[Host]

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We all know cruise ships are pretty much a floating party on the sea. You can take a cruise anywhere from as short as 2 days to as long as 274 days - yes believe it or not in 2021 Royal Caribbean launched the world’s longest cruise at 274 days with a price point of $61,000. So for $60 grand you can literally sail around the world, visiting a whopping 65 countries, not a bad deal right?


Aside from an array of activities and dining experiences that you can experience on a cruise, it’s also well known that a lot of people go missing on cruises. It’s estimated that since the year 2000 roughly 300 people have gone overboard from cruise ships or ferries, although we really don’t know the exact figure because some cruise companies choose not to report those incidents in order to preserve their reputation. If someone is reported missing from a cruise ship, it’s safe to say we can deduce that most likely one of three things has happened: they jumped from the ship, they fell, or they were thrown.

26 year old George Allen Smith IV of Greenwich Connecticut, was a good looking guy, who stood fairly tall at 6’4”, and had dark hair and blue eyes. He graduated with a business degree from Babson College in Wellesley Massachusetts in the year 2000 and went on to work for his father, the owner of Cos Cob Liquor - which ended up closing its doors in 2019 - with the ultimate goal that one day George would take over the family business. As George was focusing on his business goals, he met 25 year old Jennifer Hagel, a gorgeous blonde elementary school teacher from Cromwell, Connecticut. The two got married on June 25 2005 and had a cliffside ceremony at the Castle Hill Inn, a Victorian mansion in Newport Rhode Island...



[Wedding Announcer]

"Can you pleas put your hands together for the new Mr and Mrs George Smith IV!"


[Host]

...and soon got an apartment in the Greenwich suburb of Byram. For their honeymoon, the couple was looking forward to celebrating their new lives together on a two-week Mediterranean cruise on Royal Caribbean’s International cruise ship, the MS Brilliance of the Seas. The cruise would make stops in Greece, Turkey and Italy among other locations. Just a few days after their wedding, on June 29th, they boarded the cruise liner and checked into Stateroom #9062 which was on the ninth deck of the ship.


The Brilliance of the Seas was set to depart just before sunset on the French Riviera, headed for its first stop, Livorno Italy. When they docked at Livorno, the Smith’s caught a taxi into Florence along with a family that they’d met on board: the Askin family of Laguna Hills California. Dr. Jerry Askin was a podiatrist celebrating his 25th wedding anniversary with his wife Bonnie, and their three children. Twenty year old Josh Askin was their oldest child - a cute California kid, who according to Jennifer seemed somewhat of a handful.


While in Florence, Josh had bought a bottle of absinthe. Absinthe is a potent anise-flavored alcohol that is highly regulated in the United States mainly because of its main ingredient Thujone, a compound found in the plant Wormwood which in high doses can be toxic or fatal. Cruise operators still forbid the alcohol on board their ships, for obvious reasons. Josh obviously intended to bring the alcohol on board, and had asked George if he could help him sneak it on. George agreed and prior to boarding, tucked the bottle into his waistband.

The ship left Italy’s port and headed back out into the Aegean sea, headed for the Greek island of Mykonos. On July 4th, George and Jennifer spent the day in Mykonos walking amongst the island’s whitewashed villas and returned to the ship in the evening. Back in their cabin, Jennifer got ready for dinner while George went out onto the balcony to smoke a cigar. The two went to Chops Grille, the ship’s steakhouse for dinner, and then off to the Casino Royale, for some gambling.


Also on board this same cruise were four passengers who will be referred to as “the Russians:” 19 year old Gregory Rozenberg of Boca Raton Florida, his 18 year old cousin Zachary, 16 year old Jeffrey Rozenberg -- Zach’s younger brother, and their friend, 20 year old Rustislav “Rusty” Kofman of Brooklyn, New York. The Russians also headed to the casino that night, where they encountered and met Josh Askin and began playing craps with him.


The Russians had already been causing some trouble on the ship. Before dawn on July 4th, a security guard had found them drinking and smoking by the main pool on Deck 11. Gregory was acting arrogant and shouting obscenities. The Russians had also been abusive and obnoxious to room service operators - reportedly calling from Gregory’s cabin - cabin #3004 - and placing obscenity-laced orders, which resulted in a visit from security. Another obscene call was placed from that room at around 1am on July 5th, where one of the men yelled into the phone, telling the operator that they’d better make sure to get their luggage tomorrow, otherwise they’d throw them overboard. A security Supervisor then went to their room to admonish them and also told the room service operators not to pick up the phone if they received a call from room 3004.


Back at the casino, Jennifer was playing poker with Greg Rozenberg, while George met up with Josh and the two left for Josh’s cabin on Deck 9 to drink some of the absinthe that was snuck on board earlier that day. On their way back to the casino, George stopped by his own cabin to grab some extra cash and the two arrived back at the casino around 2:20am.


Walter Zalisko, a vacationing police officer, had befriended the Smiths, and would later recall that George told him that he had $50,000 in cash with him on the cruise - money that he had gotten in part for a wedding gift. Other passengers also recalled the couple telling them that they had anywhere from $14,000 to $50,000 in their cabin, although it wasn’t clear if the Smith’s actually had that amount with them. George’s family finds it unlikely that they did, but that didn’t really matter because people believed that they did. According to George’s mother Maureen Smith, the couple looked prosperous to others, like they were wealthy. Jennifer wore a huge diamond wedding ring from a South African jeweler and George dressed well and wore an expensive Breitling watch which had been a wedding gift from the best man. In case you were curious, because I was so I looked it up, a Breitling watch can run anywhere from $3,000 to $40,000.


Also at the casino was the casino supervisor named Lloyd Botha who had becoming quite chummy with George throughout the cruise. Several passengers reported that Jennifer appeared to be flirting with Lloyd. Josh Askins’ said he witnessed Jennifer and Lloyd nestled together on a couch, although no one else had witnessed that, but instead others said that Jennifer was so intoxicated she couldn’t stand up, and was hanging on a man named Dominick Mazza, a 24 yr old auditor from New Jersey. Mazza said that night that he thought Jennifer was simply drunk, but not flirting with him.


When the casino closed, the Smiths, Josh Askin and Lloyd Botha all left and rode a glass elevator up to the Starquest Disco on Deck 13 around 2:30am. On the elevator, Josh said he noticed something “awkward” - that Lloyd had his arm draped around Jennifer. The three Russians had also made their way to the disco.


Once at disco, Juan Gomez, the bartender, remembered seeing the Russians, Josh Askin, and George and Jennifer talking near the revolving bar around 3am. After last call, Greg Rozenberg, ordered four more vodka shots which he gave to George, Jennifer and another man. George didn’t seem to be too inebriated at this point.


When Juan Gomez left the bar at 3:25am, George was standing near the piano and Jennifer was standing at the bar talking to Greg Rozenberg. Troy Gonzales, a cleaner at the disco, observed Josh, Greg, Zach and Rusty drinking shots from their own liquor bottle, which they were trying to hide.


At around 3:30am, several passengers heard George and Jennifer get into an argument and George called Jennifer a “hussy.” Fellow passenger Margarita Chaves then saw Jennifer push George and kick him in the groin. Some who witnessed the argument said the kick was “playful” while others said that George bent over in extreme pain. Then Jennifer walked out of the disco “with an attitude” and without George - according to one passenger - with Lloyd Botha close behind.


Lloyd Botha’s attorney, though, said that’s not what happened. He said the ship’s records indicate that Lloyd did not leave the disco with Jennifer. He left with friends at 3:15am - entering his girlfriend’s cabin at 3:25am. Some witnesses corroborate his story and saw Jennifer leaving the disco unaccompanied. Troy Gonzales, the cleaning employee, saw Jennifer stumbling and followed her to the elevator to make sure she got down to her cabin floor safely. But when Jennifer got off the elevator, she turned right instead of left toward her cabin, came to a dead end and passed out on the floor, leaning against a door.


After Jennifer left the disco, George remained there for about 15 minutes, then by 3:45am, he was so drunk on vodka and absinthe that Josh Askin and the Russians decided to take him back to his cabin. Once they got to the cabin and realized Jennifer wasn’t there, George made them search the disco on Deck 13 and the pool area on Deck 11 for his wife.

The group did a quick 10 minute search and returned to the Smith Cabin #9062 without having found Jennifer, by 4:00am.


Next door to the Smith’s cabin in room #9064, were Clete Hyman and his wife, and he heard the group of men enter the Smith’s cabin.


According to Zachary Rozenberg, the men then took off George's shoes and helped him into bed - George was passed out and not moving.


About 10 minutes later, Clete Hyman was woken up by loud yelling coming from the Smith’s room.


[Clete Hyman]

This yelling sounds what I would liken to a "drinking game" where individuals are encouraging somebody to take shots or chug beer, something of this nature. Suddenly there was an argument out on the Smith balcony. There appeared to be between maybe three maybe four male individuals. After about two minutes of the argument, we heard one lone male voice repeatedly say "goodnight, goodnight" like they were ushering someone out of the room.


[Host]

He heard the front door open and male voices outside the door.


[Clete Hyman]

I looked out and saw three male individuals walking away from the room.


[Host]

The time was 4:18am. What’s interesting is that several witnesses report George leaving with FOUR men, not three, and that according to Capt. Bill Wright, the senior vp of fleet operations, the investigation confirmed that FOUR men did in fact bring George back to his room.


So what happened to the fourth person? Did he stay inside the room with George and quietly sneak out or did Clete Hyman make a mistake?


[Clete Hyman]

At this point we heard just a lone male voice in the room, we heard what sounded like the cupboard doors being closed loudly and also sounded like furniture being moved. After about 8 minutes of this, it was totally quiet.


[Host]

Pat and Greg Lawyer, the neighbors on the other side of the Smith’s in cabin #9060, didn’t hear a “drinking game” like Clete did, but did witness hearing the same movement of furniture, as if the cabin was being trashed. Suddenly there was a lot of noise coming from the room, and what sounded like someone throwing furniture in the room against the wall or floor, cabinets being shut, and the toilet being flushed.


Two cabins down from the Smith’s room, Carlos Menchaca who was in cabin #9066, heard the commotion as well and agreed that it sounded like furniture being tossed.


[Clete Hyman]

After about two minutes of total silence however, there was a large, what I would call a horrific thud.


[Host]

It was so loud that it reverberated through Clete Hyman’s cabin, and it sounded as if someone fell out on the balcony.


Following the thud, no one heard anyone leaving the Smith’s cabin, but one passenger reported hearing a woman scream right after the noise. About 5 minutes later, both Clete and the Lawyer’s heard two sets of raps on the Smith’s cabin door. It was the ship’s security who were responding to Clete’s earlier phone call. Greg opened his door and told security that “you guys better get in there because that room is trashed.” Security knocked on the door, got no response, then walked away without investigating any further - they did NOT go into the room.


At the same time as the commotion is going on in the Smith’s cabin, the Russians are back in cabin 3008, Zach and Rusty’s room. The group claimed they then ordered a ton of food from room service. If you recall, room service was not allowed to answer if a call came from room 3004, Gregory’s room, however, the room service supervisor said the personnel answering the calls would’ve recognized the men’s voices and knew not to respond to their request. According to the Russian’s, the food was delivered 15 minutes later and when it arrived, there was such a ridiculous amount of food, that they took photos of it, and of course the date and time were affixed to those photos. Anytime someone is trying to document an alibi, that’s fishy. What’s interesting is that according to the ship’s logs, they had NO record of any room service being ordered or delivered to room 3008 that morning.

Meanwhile, one of the ship’s plumbers finds a passed-out-Jennifer Smith resting against a door at the end of a hallway on Deck 9 - right outside a crew-only room and 5 doors down from Josh’s room. Five other crew members including two security personnel came to the scene where Jennifer was lying. They didn’t move her, but applied ice cubes to her face to try to wake her up. Records aren’t clear at this point if Jennifer woke up and was coherent enough to tell them her room number or if she had some kind of identification or key on her, but we do know that two crew members went to her room to locate her husband. When the crew members entered the Smith’s cabin, George wasn’t in the room.


A wheelchair was brought to Jennifer to assist her and take her back to her cabin. When she’s ushered in the room, the ship’s staff don’t notice anything unusual - the furniture is not thrown around like the neighbors claimed to have heard, and the room is in normal order. The balcony curtain was closed and not moving, suggesting that the sliding glass doors behind the curtain were also closed. The staff leaves Jennifer to rest in the room and she goes to sleep. It’s now about 4:50am.


At 5:15am, ship passkey logs show that Josh Askin arrived back to his room. According to Josh, he then went to bed.


About an hour later, the ship arrived in Kasadasi Turkey, it’s next port of call. By 8:30am, the passengers are disembarking the ship. 16 year old Emily Rausch decided she wanted to take some pictures with her new digital camera. She headed back to her cabin on Deck 7, and on the way noticed blood stains that were several feet long on top of the 12 foot metal lifeboat canopy that hung over the lifeboats and was located below the passenger balconies. In the blood stain, there were patterns that appeared to be handprints and footprints, and an impression of fingers at the canopy’s edge.


[Emily Rausch]

When I took the picture, one of the tings that made me think that this could've been blood, I saw a handprint running off the side of it. Right here, I don't know, maybe a hand.


[Host]

Other passengers also began noticing the bloodstain and security was called to the site.


A tally is then done of the ship’s passengers, and three are reported missing: George and Jennifer Smith and one other passenger. The third passenger is located, and the ship begins to page the Smiths.


By this time, Jennifer had woken up in her cabin. She didn’t remember anything that had happened the night before, not the fight with George, not her leaving the disco alone or passing out in the Deck 9 hallway. She didn’t remember security officers waking her up with ice cubes to her face, or being returned to her cabin by wheelchair. She also didn’t seem too concerned that George wasn’t in the room with her, assuming he had spent the night in a friend’s cabin.


She got up, put on flip-flops, didn’t change her clothes, grabbed her purse and walked to the ship’s spa to check in for her morning couples massage appointment. She arrived at the spa and checked in - a whole hour and a half early - which was four hours after being put to bed drunk. Jennifer was wearing the same clothes she wore the night before and no blood was seen on her clothing.


When the ship’s security staff located her at the spa, they brought her to security, where they told her they had been scouring the ship for her husband, but that he couldn’t be found and may have gone overboard.


Twenty minutes after Jennifer is located, the Smiths room is sealed and a guard is posted outside the door. Later that day, one of the male passengers that was seen with George the night before, is brought in for questioning. They ask him if he knows where George is, and he’s told that it’s suspected he went overboard. The guy asks if they found blood.


While at port in Turkey, Turkish police board the ship just after noon on July 5th. They took blood samples of the lifeboat canopy and investigated cabin 9062 for clues. They found two lozenge-shaped bloodstains on the Smith’s bed sheets that measured about two centimeters long which, after later testing, was determined to be George’s blood. It’s been speculated by Maureen Smith, George’s mother, that the blood stains were from George’s Breitling watch being pried off of his wrist.


Turkish authorities refused the ship’s request that the interviews take place exclusively on the ship. Jennifer Smith, Josh Askin and the Russians were brought to a Kusadasi police station that day where they were questioned by Turkish police. Josh’s father, Dr. Jerry Askin, videotaped the interrogation of his son. The cruise line claimed that the video tape did not exist, however, the tape was later obtained by the show 48 hours and shown on their April 8, 2006 episodes.


[Interview with Josh Askin by Turkish Authorities]


[Turkish Authorities Person 1]

You took George to the room, he was very drunk?


[Josh Askin]

Yeah but you're missing a lot.


[Josh's Father, Jerry Askin]

Josh let her read.


[Turkish Authorities Person 1]

But the story's the same.


[Turkish Authorities Person 2]

Is it the same story?


[Josh's Father, Jerry Askin]

Josh let her read.


[Josh Askin]

You guys are missing a whole...they're missing a whole huge part though.


[Host]

The show revealed that after the interrogation was over - Turkish police told Josh that Jennifer was a suspect. Josh immediately became protective of Jennifer and insisted that the Turkish police talk to the casino manager, Lloyd, who Jennifer was with that night. Josh tells them that the group did not have a party in George’s cabin, and they didn’t argue, but that he used the bathroom in the Smith’s cabin while the other guys - the Russians - tucked George in bed. When he exited the bathroom, he said a verbal goodbye to George but never actually saw where George was in the room.


Rusty Kofman and Gregory and Zachary Rozenberg, were questioned but denied having any involvement in the disappearance.

The ship’s employees were also being questioned about the incident, and cabin attendant Francis Isidro claimed that after the date of the disappearance, Josh asked him whether video cameras were installed in the corridors. Yes, they were, Isidro said, and Josh asked where but Isidro refused to tell him, so Josh walked away.


Later on the morning of George’s disappearance, Josh was sitting by one of the ship’s pools, when he spoke to passenger Margarita Chaves, the same passenger who saw Jennifer kick George, and allegedly told her “the room service is what saved us.”


Yet another incident was reported, where two or three nights following George’s disappearance, while passengers were still on board the ship, Joan Cox, the head cleaner on the ship, was riding an elevator with Josh and his girlfriend, Corey Adams. Cox claimed that Josh said “A**holes got me in trouble, almost got me arrested in Turkey,” and “I know more than they think I know.”


After the interrogations were completed by Turkish authorities, everyone, including Jennifer, Josh and the Russians were allowed back onto the ship.


On the night of July 6th, another incident occurred on the ship involving the Russians. An 18 year old from Georgia, returned to her cabin, to find her 18 year old roommate trembling and shaking. When asked what happened, the girl said that she was raped and that the incident may have been videotaped. When asked who did it, she said Jeff, Greg and Rusty - that she knew of.


The incident began with the individuals mentioned drinking Vodka in the jacuzzi on Deck 11. The 18 year old girl began to feel buzzed, so she got out of the hottub. Jeff and Greg asked her where her cabin was and said that they’d walk her back to her room, but instead took her to one of the Russian’s cabins. Allegedly, according to her statement, Jeff got on top of her while Greg got the video camera. The woman described in detail having sex with Jeff, Greg and Rusty. Greg asked her to speak directly into the camera, including naming him as the executive producer. He basically wanted to record the incident so if she said she was raped, he’d have the incident on tape showing otherwise. When Rusty began having sex with her, she claims she blacked out. According to the woman, Josh Askin was in the room, but not involved in the sexual assault.


On July 9th, while the ship was docked in Italy, the three Russian men along with the Askin family are forced off the ship in Naples and are questioned about the rape allegation. The men admitted they had sex with the woman and videotaped it, but said it was consensual.

Italian authorities reviewed the allegations, but then dismissed the matter, claiming that they didn’t have jurisdiction.


The investigation continued with Royal Caribbean, and the ship’s captain had his own theory of what happened. Saying that he thought he saw a “butt print” in the dew on top of the Smith’s balcony railing, he claimed that George pushed a chair up to the balcony, sat on the railing and accidentally fell overboard. The railing is 50” high, only a few inches wide and if you recall George stands at 6’4” tall.


When the first journalistic investigation of the incident was done by Vanity Fair in 2006, they agreed with the captain’s interpretation of what happened, that a drunk George Smith was sitting on the railing, maybe smoking a cigar, when a wave knocked him backwards into the waters below.


According to George’s family and wife, in the days following his disappearance, they requested information from the cruise line numerous times but only were informed by Royal Caribbean that they had “no news.” They were never informed the Turkish authorities were conducting a criminal investigation into George’s disappearance and they didn’t tell them that there were suspicious circumstances surrounding his disappearance either. His family also didn’t know about the neighbor’s statements about what was heard coming from the Smith’s cabin that morning or that authorities had found blood in his cabin as well as on the metal overhang below his balcony.


Later in the investigation, although George’s family had been in contact with Jennifer, they broke off contact with her, because she was refusing to talk about George’s death or about the night of his disappearance. Jennifer claimed not to remember anything about that night, which led the Smith’s to believe she was hiding information.


After the incident, the ship had failed to lock down the ship in Kusadasi Turkey. Passengers and crew members were free to disembark the ship, potentially taking crucial evidence off the ship with them.


The Turkish authorities investigated the incident for approximately two hours after the ship's crew members had already contaminated the crime scene.


The Turkish police were then rushed off the boat so the cruise ship could make the next port of call on schedule - with the potential “murderers” still on board the ship. On July 29th, the FBI announced they were getting involved and investigating the disappearance of George Smith.


The crime scene was reviewed and again, and evidence was collected. Biological evidence was found on the balcony - that could include blood, semen and bodily fluid, but it wasn’t indicated what exactly was found.


The blood on the overhang appeared to have something drug across or through the blood, as if something was dragged off or slid off the overhang. There is an area on the overhang where the blood is dense, like a small area where blood has collected, possibly where a primary wound would be. If the wound was on the front side of George and he grabbed the overhang, it would explain the bloody handprint found on the overhang.


Inside of the Smith’s cabin, there was a bloody spot the size of a fist on a towel and bloody tissues were found in the cabin, as well as the small spots of blood on the sheet. There were also reports of a small amount of blood on the rug.


The FBI also has the photos of the Russians with the food ordered from room service and the photo timestamp placed them in their room at the time of Smith’s disappearance.


Josh Askin took an FBI-administered polygraph test, and failed. When he was questioned about George, he didn’t answer, instead invoking his Fifth Amendment Rights. Askin did, however pass a polygraph test prior to the FBI administering their version.


On June 29, 2006 a lawsuit was filed by the Smith family. The lawsuit said that “the cruise line deliberately and intentionally portrayed the incident as an accident, and hampered a full-blown, appropriate investigation into the facts and circumstances of George A. Smith’s death.”


The lawsuit also claimed that the cruise line delayed reporting the incident to the FBI, instead reporting it to the Turkish authorities knowing they would be unable to conduct a prompt and thorough investigation.


George’s family, the Smith family, had their attorney and private investigators look into the disappearance.


The Smith Family’s attorney, Michael Jones, obtained video footage that involved three of the Russians - the last known persons to see George alive. Jones learned of the tape during a phone conversation with a Royal Caribbean lawyer. In the video, which was filmed on the afternoon of July 5, just hours after George went missing, the men were sitting around a table on the ship passing a video camera around, making comments and joking about George's death. One of the men stands up at the end of the tape, hunches his shoulders and flashes gang signs and says, 'Told ya I was gangsta’ - sort of as if he was bragging about doing something to George.


All four of the men with George that night were deposed by Michael Jones - Jennifer Smith refused to be deposed. During questioning, Josh Askins invoked his Fifth Amendment rights. After the deposition of Josh, which didn’t provide much additional worthwhile information, Keith Greer, Askin’s attorney, told Michael Jones to question Greg Rozenberg. Josh claimed that Greg had disappeared from room #3008 when they ordered room service. It seemed that Askins knew more than he was letting on, particularly when it was disclosed that he failed the FBI polygraph exam.


Gregory was questioned and also administered an FBI polygraph exam, however it was inconclusive because he has ADHD.


When Zachary Rozenberg was deposed by Michael Jones, he invoked the Fifth Amendment.


[Zach Rozenberg's Deposition]


[Attorney Michael Jones]

Do you know how George Smith died?


[Zach Rozenberg]

I'd like to invoke my Fifth Amendment Right.


[Attorney Michael Jones]

Do you know if George Smith was murdered


[Zach Rozenberg]

I'd like to invoke my Fifth Amendment Right.


[Attorney Michael Jones]

Do you know who killed George Smith?


[Zach Rozenberg]

I'd like to invoke my Fifth Amendment Right.


[Host]

Rusty Kofman was also deposed but due to an agreement with his attorney, it’s not known what he said or how he did on the administered polygraph.


In 2010 Gregory Rozenberg was sent to prison for three years for trafficking oxycodone, in order to support his desire for clothes, jewelry and watches.


[Zach Rozenberg's Deposition]


[Greg Rozenberg]

Gregory Rozenberg.


[Attorney Michael Jones]

And what's your date of birth?


[Greg Rozenberg]

1-1-1987


[Attorney Michael Jones]

And how old are you right now?


[Greg Rozenberg]

I'm 23 year old.


[Attorney Michael Jones]

And where are we right now?


[Greg Rozenberg]

Florida State Prison


[Attorney Michael Jones]

And why are you in prison?


[Greg Rozenberg]

Trafficking.


[Attorney Michael Jones]

Something about that night just doesn't make sense.


[Greg Rozenberg]

None of it does, none of it makes sense. Why would somebody want to go overboard that's a millionaire anyway? Why would somebody want to kill themselves that has everything in life going for him. Seems outgoing, seems he has a beautiful wife, seems like he has a good family.


[Attorney Michael Jones]

So you don't think it was an accident.


[Greg Rozenberg]

No, dude did not kill himself.


[Attorney Michael Jones]

Alright so he didn't kill himself and you don't think it was an accident.


[Greg Rozenberg]

I don't think he slipped and fell at 6'4" and flew over the boat.


[Attorney Michael Jones]

So what do you think happened?


[Greg Rozenberg]

Somebody hurt him man.


[Attorney Michael Jones]

Somebody what?


[Greg Rozenberg]

Somebody hurt him man.


[Attorney Michael Jones]

Somebody hurt him?


[Greg Rozenberg]

Somebody hurt an innocent, loving man. I've had many nights where I couldn't sleep thinking about what's going on.


[Attorney Michael Jones]

Did you have anything to do with George's death.


[Greg Rozenberg]

No, never did. Never will, never thought about it, no.


[Attorney Michael Jones]

Did any of your cousins.


[Greg Rozenberg]

No.


[Attorney Michael Jones]

How about Josh?


[Greg Rozenberg]

No, I can say no. I don't think he's that type of dude.


[Attorney Michael Jones]

Do you think anybody from the cruise line.


[Greg Rozenberg]

Could be, I don't know.


[Attorney Michael Jones]

Do you think Jennifer was involved?


[Greg Rozenberg]

No comment.


[Attorney Michael Jones]

How about Lloyd Botha?


[Greg Rozenberg]

No comment.


[Host]

None of the men in the video or any of the men that were seen with George that night have been charged with any crimes, and all of them state they had nothing to do with George’s death.


On June 29, 2006 Royal Caribbean International agreed to a settlement of $1.3 million with George Smith’s estate, which included Jennifer and the Smith Family. The settlement was paid out in May of 2008. As part of the settlement, Royal Caribbean agreed to hand over its investigative file on George’s disappearance to Jennifer and the Smith family. The file included witness statements made to the cruise line and to the Turkish authorities, as well as statements from cruise ship employees.


In 2009 Jennifer Smith remarried, has two children and still lives in Connecticut. Jennifer has been criticized for her behavior the night that her husband went missing, however, she insists it was an accident caused by George being drunk that night. Her and her attorney are convinced there were passengers on board that were involved in her husband’s disappearance. Jennifer also took a polygraph test - she passed and is not considered a suspect.


Following the settlement, the investigation continued into 2012. The case was referred to the Mafia division of the FBI and the TV program Dateline suggested a theory that the death of George was likely a robbery gone bad.


In 2015 the FBI officially closed the investigation, telling the family that there wasn’t enough evidence to prove George had been murdered and that his death may have been the result of an accident.


Josh Askin filed a civil suit against the cruise line alleging invasion of privacy, claiming emotional distress, false imprisonment and breach of contract. The suit asked for a minimum of $15,000 in damages.


This case has been rampant with theories. One theory suggests that George and Jennifer were “rufied” - since blackouts and amnesia are side effects of those types of drugs. Also what’s interesting, is that that night and subsequent morning, is the only time that Jennifer has ever suffered a complete blackout and loss of memory.


George Smith’s body has never been found. The Smith family continues to believe that George was murdered on the ship and they are offering a $100,000 reward for information leading leading directly to an arrest and conviction of parties of interest in the case.


It’s hard to theorize, even with the witness testimonies, what exactly happened to George Smith early that morning. Did he fall off the railing as the captain theorized, or was he thrown over the railing? What bothered me about this case was not just the sounds coming from George’s room as witnessed by the neighbors, but the amount of blood on the canopy. We may never know what happened, as the last people that saw George alive are keeping very quiet. What we do know is that excessive alcohol use and boats do not make a safe combination. I’m hoping this case does not deter you from going on a cruise, and if you do, some advice: drink responsibility, always be with someone you trust, and stay off those balconies.



[Host]

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