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The Crew of the Sara Jo

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  • Ralph Malaiakini and Peter Hanchett
  • Benjamin Kalama and Patrick Woesner
  • Scott Moorman

Real Name: Peter Hanchett, Benjamin Kalama, Ralph Malaiakini, Scott Moorman and Patrick Woesner
Nicknames: No Known Nicknames
Location: Hana, Hawaii
Date: February 11, 1979


Occupation: Unrevealed
Date of Birth: Unrevealed
Height: Unrevealed
Weight: Unrevealed
Marital Status: Unrevealed
Characteristics: Unrevealed



Details: In February 1979, Peter Hanchett, Benjamin Kalama, Ralph Malaiakini, Scott Moorman and Patrick Woesner set sail from Maui, Hawaii for a pleasant fishing trip off a seventeen-foot Boston whaler called the Sarah Joe. They had a good day at start, but the wind picked up and a storm came in. Peter's father, John Hanchett, grew concerned and went out to look for them, later joined by marine biologist John Naughton and Captain Jim Cushman of the Coast Guard by the third day. No trace of the Sarah Joe or the five-men was ever found. In 1988, John Naughton was on a wildlife expedition to a deserted atoll called Taongi approximately 2000 miles from Maui, a part of the Marshall Islands, where he discovered a small boat he could tell was registered in Hawaii and several feet from that, a shallow grave with a human jawbone protruding from a pile of rocks.

Mis lost hawaiian fishermen2

The Coast Guard linked the boat to the Sarah Joe and dental records proved the jawbone was part of the remains of Scott Moorman from the missing Sarah Joe fishermen. It is entirely possible that the boat made it to the island within three months, but the problem is that a Government survey of the island six years previously would have found the boat and remains on the island. Were the other four men lost at sea during the interim and arrived after the expedition or did someone arrive on the island to leave the boat and Moorman's remains? A possible clue rests on the island. Moorman's jawbone had been buried with an unbound stack of papers 3/4 inches by 3/4 inches alternated by slips of tin foil material between the pages. The cryptic papers may be part of a Chinese burial ritual representing money and fortune in the next life. Gold and silver foil such as the ones inside the papers also represent money or good fortune for the dead to bring with them into the next life.
Suspects: None
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the October 11, 1989 episode.
Results: Unresolved. The family hired private investigator Steve Goodenow to look into the loss of the crew. He took a team to Taongi and discovered a new "handful" of Scott Moorman's bones near the original grave. Drivers also found the boat's engine's wedged underwater in nearby coral.
Given the narrow channel between the reefs and islands, it is unlikely the boat could have reached the Taongi lagoon without human interference. Goodenow hypothesized that Chinese fisherman found the Moorman's body and buried him; he further theorized that fisherman did not report the incident since they had been fishing in the area illegally. Robert Malaiakini, brother of missing crew member Ralph Malaiakini, thinks that Moorman tied himself to the boat to weather the storm; he doubts that anyone from the Sarah Jo could have survived the storm and 2,200-mile journey to Taongi.
Memorial plaques to commemorate the crew were installed on the Taongi atoll and in Hana Bay.

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