Almost two years after two Florida teenagers went missing at sea, investigators are still piecing together the details of their final moments. When Perry Cohen and Austin Stephanos took a small boat out July, 24, 2015, it appeared they were headed for the Bahamas, according to a court document obtained last week by WPLG-TV.
By putting together social media activity and interviews with friends and family, investigators were able to discern where the 14-year-olds may have been headed that day.
“Me and Austin r crossing to the Bahamas tomorrow come with us,” Cohen wrote in an Instagram message to a friend Jul. 23, 2015, according to the court document. “We wouldn’t check in.”
The “not checking in” appeared to be in reference to avoiding customs officials on the way to the Bahamas.
In addition, Stephanos’ posted a Snapchat photo the day they left. The picture showed fishing poles on the boat alongside the caption “Peace Out Jup.”
“Usually, when we say ‘Peace Out Jup,’ we mean going to the Bahamas,” a friend of the boys told investigators.
The social media activity was discovered after Stephanos’ iPhone was recovered almost eight months after the boys disappeared. The phone, their life vests and the 18-foot boat were eventually found, though no trace of the teens themselves was ever located.
The boys mentioned to at least one other friend that they were thinking about heading to the Bahamas, but eventually “Austin said it was too rough,” the friend told investigators.
“The boys intended to take the boat out quite a distance,” a girlfriend of a Stephanos family member told investigators, noting she had seen them with two extra gas cans before leaving.
Interviews with Stephanos’ grandfather also led officials to believe the boys had their sights set on the Bahamas. Richard Kuntz told investigators he gave his grandson $100 to buy gas for their fishing trip.
“And that’s when they starting talking about going to the Bahamas, ya didn’t, he was just there, he knows you need a passport, he didn’t have any money and he knows, two engines to go, minimum, or two boats, never by yourself with one engine and one battery,” Kuntz said, according to the court document. “The one battery, he wouldn’t think about,…