Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Florida fugitives convicted after ‘America’s Most Wanted’ reboot leads to bust

A pair of Florida fugitives who spent more than a decade on the run were convicted in the death of a diver this week after a segment on the “America’s Most Wanted” reboot likely led to their arrest.

Christopher Jones, 57, and Alison Gracey, 54, pleaded guilty in federal court Friday to involuntary manslaughter in the 2011 boating death of 36-year-old diver Aimee Rhoads, the Department of Justice said.

Jones and Gracey — a British couple who ran a scuba company in Key Largo — knew their charter boat had major safety problems before it capsized while carrying Rhoads and five other passengers on Dec. 18, 2011, according to the federal prosecutors in Florida.

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The shoddily maintained, 25-foot vessel, dubbed Get Wet, “began taking on water” and “sank about 30 feet to the ocean floor,” drowning Rhoads, prosecutors said.

“A criminal investigation following the death of the diver revealed that Jones and Gracey knew before the tragedy that the vessel needed repairs,” the DOJ said in a press release.

America'S Most Wanted
A segment on “America’s Most Wanted” may have led to the arrest of two Florida fugitives on the run for over a decade.
America’s Most Wanted/Fox

After the boat sank, a loose bench trapped Rhodes underwater.

“Made of buoyant material, the bench sprang towards the ocean’s surface, as the vessel itself sank. The two large and heavy objects collided, pinning one passenger’s legs against the vessel’s windshield. [She] was trapped and drowned,” the authorities said.

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After eluding US law enforcement for nearly 11 years, the couple was featured on Fox’s “America’s Most Wanted” with John Walsh in April 2021 — complete with a rendering of what they likely looked like a decade after the tragedy.

Just four days after the show aired, they were arrested near Madrid, Spain.

The fugitives were soon extradited to the US, where they copped to “causing the death of another, without malice, during the commission of a … commercial dive charter” in South Florida federal court Friday, court documents show.

The couple is scheduled to be sentenced in August.

A DOJ spokeswoman didn’t immediately return a call Wednesday.


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