Before Natalee Holloway disappeared on a Caribbean vacation, there was Amy Lynn Bradley. The Virginia woman was 23 years old when she vanished while on a cruise with her parents and brother in 1998 — and she remains missing today.
The mysterious case revealed the scary things that can happen on vacation, and it caused changes to the ways that cruises operate in the event of an emergency. Amy, a recent college graduate, had been dancing and having fun until the wee hours of the morning, and she was discovered missing not long before the ship docked in Curacao.
The case remains under investigation, and many people believe that the woman was taken by human traffickers. There have been sightings all over the Caribbean, yet Amy still hasn't made it home more than 20 years later.
Here are 15 details about the Amy Lynn Bradley disappearance that were swept under the rug.
15 She Was Reported Missing In Minutes
One of the weirdest things about the story of Amy's disappearance is how quickly everything happened. Her dad reported seeing her sleeping on the balcony when he woke up sometime between 5:15 and 5:30 a.m. She was gone when he went to check on her at 6 a.m. They immediately told the cruise authorities, but the crew was preparing to dock the ship and let people out for an excursion, so they didn't start searching right away.
14 She Stayed Out All Night
It's not that weird that Amy, who was a recent college graduate, was out having a good time on a cruise ship. She was doing what young adults do - having a good time on vacation. It only became strange the next day. Amy's brother Brad spent part of the night out with her, but he went to bed earlier, and it's not really clear what happened that night.
13 The Crew Waited To Respond
Cruise ships act differently these days, but when Amy's parents reported her missing, the response was really slow. The crew was more worried about docking and letting people off and the ship wasn't searched until afterward. That makes some people think that Amy could have been whisked off the ship before anyone even tried to help her.
12 A Man Named Yellow
The first suspect that the authorities questioned about Amy was a man named Yellow. He was part of a band called Blue Orchid that was playing the night before the disappearance, and Amy had been getting to know him after he left the stage. He said that he and Amy split up around 1 a.m., and the evidence seemed to back that up. But it looks like the authority's distraction on a rocker might have meant the real bad guys got overlooked.
11 Cab Driver Sighting
As the Bradleys began searching for their daughter, at least one sighting was brought to light. A cab driver in Curacao said that a woman matching Amy's description approached him and asked for a phone. But he didn't realize something was wrong. That sighting was never confirmed, so it's unclear what happened to the woman.
10 Could She Have Disappeared On Her Own?
There are some people who wonder whether anything really sinister was afoot with Amy's disappearance. She was a 20-something free spirit, and some people think that she wasn't interested in going home and starting her adulthood in a boring job. They think she might have just decided to stay in Paradise, but her parents and authorities insist that she would have never left without telling them she was OK.
9 Pirates Nearby
As safe as the seas might seem these days, the truth is that pirates still exist. They can be found in many parts of the ocean, and they don't follow the laws. According to reports, there were pirates nearby when the cruise ship docked, and some believe that members of the crew worked with them, taking Amy as part of a human trafficking scheme.
8 Witnesses Years Later
A number of people have said that they have seen Amy Lynn Bradley in the Caribbean. Some tourists said they saw her in Curacao, and one person said that someone claiming to be Amy approached them in Barbados asking for help in a restroom before being lead away by someone. Years after the disappearance, someone sent the parents a photo of someone they believed to be Amy, but they couldn't locate her.
7 She Didn't Have Shoes
It isn't unusual for a woman in her 20s to walk around a cruise ship without her parents knowing where she is, but the difference with Amy is that she didn't take anything with her. Her ID was left in the room — and so were her shoes. It's weird to think of her going to the pool without her shoes much less disembarking on her own without anything on her feet. According to the Charley Project, Amy brought 10 pairs of shoes on the cruise and none of them were missing.
6 Missing Photos
Things began getting strange on the family vacation even before Amy disappeared. According to Ranker, the waiters seemed to give Amy a lot of attention and she said she was creeped out by them. Apparently, photos of her taken at a cruise dinner were taken down by the crew, which has led some to believe that she might have been targeted by the workers.
5 The Sailor In A Brothel
About 10 years after Amy's disappearance, a sailor said he had an encounter with a woman who claimed to be the missing woman. He said that he met the woman at a brothel and she begged him for help. But he was afraid that he would get in trouble for visiting the house of ill repute, and he didn't report the incident until a long time after the encounter -- too late for anything to be done to help her.
4 Video Found Of That Night
In 2017 -- nearly 20 years after Amy disappeared -- police uncovered new evidence. They found some video of the night before that showed Amy dancing with Yellow. It was taken by a film crew working on promotional material. We think it's really strange that no one thought to check the tapes when it happened. It doesn't implicate anybody, but it does give some truth to the night before everything went wrong.
3 Cigarette Run
The entire situation with the Bradley case began with the brother's story. He was reportedly the last person to see Amy, and he said that she said she was going to go buy some cigarettes. That means that she was going to leave the ship, yet she didn't have her shoes. And her parents insisted that the ship should be searched first. That cigarette run may have started a miscommunication that caused the first efforts to find Amy to be futile.
2 Parents Scammed By Rescue Scheme
As if losing their daughter wasn't enough, the Bradleys were scammed about a year after her disappearance. They were desperate to find their daughter, so they paid a man who claimed to know where she was being held. After shelling out more than $200,000 for what they thought was going to be a rescue by a team of former Navy SEALs, the Bradleys learned that someone was just taking advantage of their desperation, according to Ranker.
1 The Bone That Washed Ashore
The Bradleys have no idea what happened to their daughter. When news of a human jawbone washed up on shore, the family wondered if it would finally provide answers. This news came not long after the disappearance of Natalee Holloway, and Aruban authorities tested and determined that the bone did not belong to the missing girl. But there were no other tests done, even though more than a dozen women — including Amy — have disappeared from Caribbean vacations in the years prior to the discovery.