THE MYSTERIOUS DISAPPEARANCE OF THE PRINCESS OF DUBAI

THE MYSTERIOUS DISAPPEARANCE OF THE PRINCESS OF DUBAI

From the desk of Kym Pasqualini, Feature Crime Writer for Lauth Investigations

15.8 million tourist visited Dubai during 2017 and considered one of the most beautiful cities in the Middle East.

Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), is where you will find nightclubs on the same street as mosques. Some describe residing in Dubai as “living in a bubble” where there as is an attitude of “live and let live.”

Dubai is one of the main and most populous cities in the UAE where islands have been built with beautiful luxury hotels and extravagant shopping centers that are attractive tourist destinations. Located on the southeast coast of the Persian Gulf, Dubai is the capital of the Emirate of Dubai and considered one of the most fascinating and developed cities in the Middle East.

Sprouting up out of the desert, Gulf News reports a whopping 15.8 million tourists visited Dubai during 2017, making it one of the most happening tourist meccas in the world. Mega-malls, 5-star hotels, a thriving art and design ecosystem, and a constantly evolving food scene, something is always happening.

Home to the Burj Khalifa (the tallest man-made structure on earth), as well as the Marina where the tallest residential buildings in the world were built, the many skyscrapers offer an amazing skyline view.

One of the main draws for visitors is the more than 300 days of sunshine and over 600 miles of white sand coastline, one can simply relax and lay in the sun, skydive, or hang glide over the gulf for an adventurous time. A place where you have the city, desert, and sea in one place.

The country is described as transient. Many come, stay, and leave. However, 97% of Dubai’s population say they feel safe in the UAE, with most having had little to no experience with crime.

Ruler of the Emirate of Dubai and Allegations of Abuse

Sheikh MohammedSheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, 68, is the billionaire Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of the Emirate of Dubai. Since his accession in 2006, after the death of his brother, Maktoum has been credited with the growth of Dubai into a global city.

Named one of the “richest royalty” in the world by Forbes, the Sheikh’s personal life is a well-guarded secret, though he is widely known for his love of horse-racing. In fact, he shares his passion for horse-racing with the Queen of England and meets her at the Royal Ascot each year.

Despite the accolades, in March 2018, allegations of abuse were made via video by Princess Latifa bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, a daughter of the Sheikh. The princess alleged being incarcerated for more than three years in a family-owned compound where she was also tortured.

Daily Mail has reported Princess Latifah claims she was drugged in a hospital to stop her from rebelling and escaping. Though Daily Mail has not been able to verify her claims of abuse and incarceration, Mail Online has reported the princess fled Dubai in an attempt to live a normal life, leading some to believe Princess Latifa may be the richest runaway in the world.

Reports recenly Princess skydiving surfaced indicating Princess Latifa received help escaping by a former French spy and was hiding on a yacht off the coast of southern India. She expected to seek asylum in the United States where she had made contact with an attorney.

What may seem like something straight out of a best-selling spy novel, becomes all the more real after watching an emotional video she made prior to leaving that explains, in shocking detail, her reasons for wanting to escape. But has she?

Princess Latifah, 33, is one of 30 children the wealthy Ruler of Dubai has between six of his wives. In an Emirates Woman magazine article, the Princess is described as a daredevil skydiver with an undying enthusiasm for adventure and longing for a normal life.

The Disappearance

In her YouTube video, she sits humbly with no makeup, her hair tied back, wearing a simple blue t-shirt, speaking calmly as she explains her reason for fleeing Dubai.

“I do not have the freedom that people have. Freedom of choice is not something we have,” the Princess says. “I am very restricted and cannot even go to another emirate without permission. I have not left Dubai since 2000.”

The Princess says she is not allowed to keep her own passport and if she goes out in Dubai she is assigned a driver.

It has been reported she gave the video to her UK-based attorney Radha Stirling in case of her disappearance or death.

NDTV reported the princess sent her last WhatsApp message to her attorney on Sunday, March 4th from a U.S. registered boat at least 50 miles from India’s coastline.

During a distressed call, the princess told Stirling they were hiding below deck and said, “Radha, please help me, there are men outside,” then frantically claimed to hear gunshots. Stirling asked the princess to record the gunshots but received no reply. That was the last time anyone heard from Princess Latifah.

Stirling says the princess first got in touch with her firm “Detained in Dubai” on February 26th, claiming she had escaped Dubai where she had been tortured for helping another sibling run away. She told Stirling her older sister had also fled because she was denied choices some people take for granted, such as returning home at a certain time or driving a car.

After giving a harrowing account of her life in the video, she warns by the time people watch, she could be either dead or in a really bad situation.

Herve Jaubert, author of “Escape from Dubai.”

Princess Latifah was last known to be with Herve Jaubert, an American who served as a French Navy Officer, marine engineer, and spy who operated for the General Directorate for External Security, France’s external intelligence agency and equivalent to the United Kingdom’s MI6 and the United States CIA.

Ironically, Jaubert has been wanted by the Dubai authorities for alleged embezzlement during the time Jaubert owned a submarine design and manufacturing company in Dubai. Now a resident of Florida, those allegations have been widely discredited. He is also an author of “Escape from Dubai,” a book recounting his own escape from Dubai.

According to Stirling, Jaubert and the princess were on his yacht called the Nostromo. Finnish woman, Tiina Jauhiainen, 41, was also aboard the Nostromo, all three disappearing in the Indian ocean, while closing in on Goa, India, known to be where they were headed to execute their escape.

According to UK police, information about the trio’s disappearance was sent to international liaison officers at the National Crime Agency and Interpol so they could proceed with the missing person investigation.

The three had maintained regular contact with Stirling until March 4th and had told the attorney they were 50 miles off the Indian shore, with plans to disembark the yacht and fly to the U.S from Mumbai. Seven hours later, Stirling received the distress call from the princess saying she was hiding inside the yacht, and men were outside. The princess then reported hearing gunshots. Directly after, their communication stops permanently.

Princess Latifa and Tiina Jauhianinen had become good friends prior to the princesses’ disappearance.

According to the Jauhianinen family, Tiina and the princess had met each other through their passion for skydiving and over the years became close friends. Princess Latifa referred to Tiina as “my angel” and the only person “I can talk to about anything.” Tiina was also the princesses’ martial arts instructor and personal trainer.

After learning of Princess Latifa’s tortuous life, Tiina and the princess set out to find Jaubert, now a public figure and famous for his book. Tiina needed help getting the princess out of Dubai and Jaubert was a logical choice to ask for help.

Tiina had maintained regular contact with her family, but the last time Tiina was seen online was the day before the princess’s distress call to Stirling. The following day, one of Tiina’s friends told the family they had heard there was a possible raid on the yacht. The family immediately contacted Finnish Police and Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland and filed a missing person report.

Surfacing

After weeks of being reported missing, in April 2018, Jaubert and Tiina suddenly surfaced.

They both claimed to have been blindfolded and beaten after a hostile boarding. They were both in jail and told they had broken “Islamic Law” by assisting Princess Latifah in her quest to escape Dubai because she is the property of her father.

Herve Jaubert and Tiina Jauhianinen surface to tell their own harrowing stories of being detained by Dubai authorities.

Speaking to Pakistan Defense News from London, Jaubert claims he had attempted to bring the princess to a western country. He confirmed Tiina was on board, along with Princess Latifah and three Filipino nationals who were part of the crew.

Jaubert indicated he was en route to Mumbai and planned to fly everyone to the US from there. However, near Goa, the Nostromo was intercepted in a joint operation by India and the UAE, an act Jaubert considers a criminal conspiracy.

Jaubert tells how he noticed three vessels ghosting him on radar and he knew he was being followed. Then, two speed boats containing six to eight men carrying laser pointed assault rifles, faces covered in helmets and masks rushed the yacht. They proceeded to use stun guns and smoke grenades to neutralize the crew.

He was ordered to raise his hands above his head or they would kill him. With an assault rifle in Jaubert’s face, he complied and the men proceeded to handcuff him and beat him.

“No warning, no warrant, no charges, no explanations, no questions, nothing, just unnecessary brutal force by thugs,” said Jaubert.

The men proceeded to go to Princess Latifa’s cabin and said, “Come on Latifah, let’s go home.” Jaubert described how they forcefully grabbed her while she was screaming she would rather be killed right there on the boat than go back to the UAE. She repeatedly claimed political asylum but was ignored.

Next, at least ten people from the UAE boarded the vessel, some crew, and a captain, the others were special forces, not a private contractor Jaubert recalls. They were surrounded by the men on speedboats, and three coast guard warships. Later it would be reported there was a minimum of five Indian and Emirate warships, two military airplanes and a helicopter taking part in the attack on the Nostromo.

The authorities transported Jaubert to a secret prison where he lived in constant fear he would be executed for stealing a daughter away from their father, the ruler of a country nonetheless.

Once freed, Jaubert sailed for 13 days to Galle, Sri Lanka, abandoned his boat and flew to London. “I was in fear all day we would not make it, as it is easier for the UAE to blow up the yacht with a missile strike to eliminate witnesses and destroy evidence,” says Jaubert.

He claims they let him go due to Princess Latifa’s video, and scandalous stories released in the news. “They also let me go because I was filed as a missing person and the U.S. was looking for me, “ Jaubert said.

While the Indian authorities have denied any paramilitary mission occurred, the UAE has refused to comment. Concerns are growing, the Princess of Dubai is the victim of an “enforced disappearance” after attempting her dramatic escape. Jaubert believes she is being held captive and drugged in isolation for repeatedly misbehaving according to her father, the Sheikh.

The scandal has raised questions about women’s treatment in Dubai. In a seemingly idyllic place, there are clearly still some women who are treated inhumanely, only creating more concern for Princess Latifah’s safety at the hands of her father.

There has been no activity on Princess Latifah’s Instagram account or other social media platforms since her disappearance at sea.

To raise awareness, according to the Helsinki Times, social media users are using hashtags #FindLatifa #WhereisLatifa? #WhereisNostromo #EscapefromDubai

Unlike the ending of a tragic spy novel, friends of Princess Latifah are hoping for a happy-ending.

Missing Americans in Jamaica

Missing Americans in Jamaica

jamaican flag

Rarely do you hear on the news of an American missing in Jamaica. Most missing person cases usually involve tourists who come to visit the island on a cruise, typically docked in Ocho Rios or Montego Bay, and never make it back to the ship once it’s time to depart. Typically, at the end of the investigation, the missing persons are normally found visiting a relative or staying in a nearby resort, claiming they simply wanted to spend more time on the island.

A recent example of such a case happened this past February. Three U.S. nationals, 24-year-old Tricia Forrester, 35-year-old Glen Triston, and 42-year-old Clinton Hill, boarded the Carnival Sensation Cruise in Miami, Florida. They were reported missing on the February 28th after the cruise docked in Ocho Rios. According to Nationwide Radio Jamaica, all three nationals were accounted for three days later, safe and sound, the last one being found in Montego Bay. According to the Head of the St. Ann police, Senior Superintendent Michael Smith, the three were visiting family members when they were reported missing. The passengers stated they were going to deliver luggage to their family members who were to meet them in Ocho Rios. However, when it was time for the cruise to leave it was discovered their rooms were empty and so they were reported missing.

Another similar case occurred on Tuesday, December 5, 2017, when an American woman, 41-year-old Marjan Ehsani, was reported missing in Kingston. Reports from the Half-Way-Tree police station state, “She checked into a hotel in Kingston on the 4th and was last seen at a gas station in the area. All attempts to get in touch with her were fruitless.” In a surprising twist, she was located only days after in a guest house in Kingston. She was reported to be in good health and returned to The United States shortly after being found.

Desiree Gibbon, 26

Although there are the above scenarios with positive outcomes, there have been a couple unsolved cases over the past decade. The most recent case: A twenty-six-year-old aspiring model and documentary filmmaker, Desiree Hyacinth Gibbon, from Queens, New York, went missing in Jamaica in late 2017. According to the local police, Desiree went to Jamaica on the 20th of October and was given three months to stay on the island. Investigators say she was looking for employment. However, her mother, Andrea Cali-Gibbon, has been reported saying Desiree went to Jamaica with the intention of shooting a documentary. “She wanted to travel to different countries, try new things and experience cultures,” her mom said. Desiree’s father is Jamaican and her grandmother owns a hotel on the island, where she stayed during her visit. At the time of her disappearance, Desiree was visiting Jamaica for possibly her eighth time.

Unfortunately, in December 2017, Desiree’s body was found with her throat slit and her legs, torso, and wrists covered with bruises. She was discovered in the bushes along the roadway of Anchovy, St. James. Local authorities identified her body after taking a photograph of her to the same hotel which her grandmother owns, where she was identified by her Uncle Claude.

Claude said the police officers told him they were looking for two women who they believe may be connected to the crime. The mother insists Desiree would never go out alone and believes this wasn’t a random senseless act, but a crime of passion. “My belief is it was a cold, calculated, planned out murder… It wasn’t a random act of violence. It is somebody she knew, somebody she trusted, and somebody who betrayed her,” Andrea Gibbon, the distraught mother, said. As the case stands, no one has been arrested or charged.

Another unsolved missing persons case dates as far back as May 2012 and involves forty-one-year-old Robert Durbin of Lemay Street, Hartford, who went missing in Kingston. According to the Matilda’s Corner police station, Mr. Durbin was last seen in Jones Town, Kingston 12, carrying out charity work in the community.

Robert Durbin

Robert Durbin

Robert visited Jamaica to teach law, lecturing part-time on the weekends through a University of London international program. According to the Hartford Courant, he was a councilman of the West Hartford Town Council and the reason for his visits to the island was to learn about the heritage of Jamaican and West Indian constituents. Durbin said he got a close view of how local services work in Kingston.

“I’m living and volunteering in a low-income development down here. It’s a very up-and-coming, low-income area, so it’s a nice opportunity to work with some social workers. Obviously, this area is a lot different from West Hartford… but my work here in the community will contribute to my service on the town council.”

Some months after, Robert resigned from town council following controversy due to his part-time move to Jamaica and an arrest on charges of interfering with an officer. According to the Hartford Courant, Robert had followed police to a distress call of a domestic disturbance and persistently offered his services as a criminal lawyer to the residents whom he claimed to know. The residents, however, stated they hadn’t known Mr. Durbin, nor had they summoned anyone for legal aid. Durbin was charged with interfering with an investigation and first-degree criminal trespass.

With his political career finished and his divorce processing, Robert decided to go back to Jamaica to do charity work in Jones Town, a peculiar destination as their reputation hasn’t been the best, and can actually be considered a dangerous part on the island. Fast forward to 2018 and Robert Durbin has yet to be found.

In closing, there aren’t many reports of Americans going missing in Jamaica because it is not a regular occurrence. Tourism is one of Jamaica’s main sources of foreign exchange, accounting for over 50% of the total amount. The tourism industry is responsible for about one-fourth of all jobs on the island. As such, the locals treat foreigners like royalty, but just like everything in life, there are a few exceptions.

Police Unable to Connect Deaths of 3 Lumberton Women

Police Unable to Connect Deaths of 3 Lumberton Women

2560px-Downtown_Lumberton_North_CarolinaNear the southern tip of North Carolina, where I-74 and I-95 meet, there’s a town called Lumberton. In 1995, the town became the two-time winner of the National Civic Leagues All-America City Award, which aims to recognize communities “whose citizens work together to identify and tackle community-wide challenges and achieve uncommon results.” Unfortunately, in a matter of decades, Lumberton has fallen from recipient of the All-America City Award to the number one spot on the FBI’s list of the top ten most dangerous cities in North Carolina.

According to a 2016 FBI report, there were 393 violent crimes in Lumberton and analysts estimate an individual resident has a 1 in 55 chance of being raped, assaulted, or killed. These overwhelming statistics could explain why the details emerging from Lumberton in recent months read more like a titillating summer mystery novel than a modern-day Mayberry—the citizens stewing in fear and suspicion as law enforcement continue to investigate the three murders and smattering of disappearances plaguing the small North Carolina town in the last year.

48501AF400000578-5288341-image-m-22_1516363527046On April 18th, 2017, the remains of two women were found in central Lumberton less than 100 yards from one another. The remains of Christina Bennett, 32, were found in an abandoned house after a neighbor called authorities about a rancid odor coming from the property. Police also discovered the remains of Rhonda Jones, 36, stuffed in a trash can not even a football field distance away. The remains of both women were in an advanced stage of decomposition, not only preventing authorities from establishing a time of death, but also preventing them from establishing a cause of death for both women. Police Captain Terry Parker confirmed the women were both identified through medical records.

web1_5078-MMS-1515169868510-attachment1-received_101551567753906901201815142013421-1The community was staggered by the tragedy. Rhonda Jones’s family had known something was wrong when she didn’t show up for Easter. Jones’ sister told the Robesonian“I want whoever did this to be punished. I know somebody knows something. Because Rhonda knows everybody in thE area. Somebody knows what happened to Rhonda,” Price said. “She had five kids… She had a family that loved her… She had a granddaughter that she loved with all of her heart. Somebody needs to be punished for what they did to her. She didn’t deserve this. No one deserved that.”

In early June, the remains of Megan Oxendine were found in another abandoned house on 9th Street in central Lumberton. The discovery of her body came as a chilling twist to the citizens of Lumberton, as many recalled her interview with news media the day after the discovery of the remains of her friend, Rhonda Jones. In April 2017, Oxendine joined many across the community who had spoken out about the loss of Jones. She told CBS North Carolina, “I ain’t never seen her act out or nothing. She’s just quiet. She didn’t really mess with too many people.”  Just as, in the cases of Christina Bennett and Rhonda Jones, Oxendine’s state of decomposition prevented authorities from establishing both time of death and cause of death.  This makes her the third woman web1_Megan-Oxendine201839162925537-248x245found in a four-block radius in central Lumberton in two months. Although law enforcement has yet to link the deaths of the three women, Private investigator Thomas Lauth of Lauth Investigations International speculates that the discovery of their remains could be the patterned behavior of a single perpetrator, “Commonly in cases where the victim(s) are first missing then found deceased in a very small geographic area, the perpetrator of such a heinous crime will kill again, and resides within a 10-20 mile radius. Perhaps even had prior interaction with the victim or their family. Further, if the community has a high rate of crime from meth or heroin, it could bring outside traffickers and other transients into the community which increases the propensity for murder.” Police have reported the neighborhood has been a hive of criminal activity for years but are unable to connect any of the deaths to the criminal element.  

It was in June of 2017 the Lumberton Police Department officially requested the assistance of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in what is officially called “the death investigations” of the three women. As recently as last month, March 2018, investigators conducted a canvas of the area where the three women were found. Over the course of three days, they knocked on 800 doors, conducted 500 interviews, and continued to encourage the public to come forward with any information.

875bbd99-7cbd-491d-be43-c3e7909ed705-large16x9_WPDE_abandonedhomebodyfoundlumberton_6.7.17Since the beginning of the FBI’s involvement in the death investigations, two more women have gone missing from the Lumberton area. The first woman is Cynthia Jacobs, 41, who went missing sometime in July 2017. Her disappearance strikes those who knew her as “suspicious” because, according to her sister-in-law, Cynthia was the last person to see Megan Oxendine—the third woman found—alive and well. The second woman was 20-year-old Abby Lynn Patterson. On September 5th, 2017, after telling her mother she was leaving the house to run errands, it was reported Abby Lynn was last seen getting into a car with a male acquaintance on East 9th Street, 1000 yards from where Christina Bennett and Rhonda Jones had been found. Captain Terry Parker of the Lumberton Police Department told CBS 17, “While there is always a possibility, we are 99 percent sure the case is not related to the females this spring and early summer.”

Five women have either disappeared or been discovered dead in the same neighborhood over the course of six months. A little over a year later, police and federal investigators have yet to establish a cause of death in the cases of Christina Bennett, Rhonda Jones, and Megan Oxendine. They have yet to name any suspects in their deaths. They are currently offering $30,000 for anyone who can lead investigators to the truth of what happened to the three women. Cynthia Jacobs and Abby Lynn Patterson have not had contact with their families since they were last reported seen in Lumberton. Anyone with information on the whereabouts of the missing women should call the Lumberton Police Department at (910)-671-3845.

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How to Protect Yourself While Running

How to Protect Yourself While Running

Hundreds of thousands of Americans choose to run in order to stay active and healthy. However, for many women this average, daily routine can be deadly. Over the past few weeks, several women have disappeared while on a run and have been found dead hours later. These incidents remind us that we can be vulnerable even while doing the simplest of activities.

 

Karina Vetrano. August 2, 2016.karina-vetrano image
Karina left her house for her usual jog at about 5:30pm on August 2nd. Vetrano was jogging in a popular running destination in Queens, New York, known as Spring Creek Park when she was attacked, assaulted and strangled. A fewhours later, her father and local authorities discovered her body, but they have not been able to find her killer. Vetrano’s running routine was fairly well known in the area, according to several reports. She would often run with her father, but due to a back injury Mr. Vetrano could not accompany Karina on August 2nd.

 

Vanessa Marcotte. August 7, 2016.Vanessa Marcotte Image

Vanessa was last seen in the early afternoon on August 7th when she left for a run. Marcotte was visiting her mother for the weekend in Princeton, Massachusetts when she was attacked and killed. According to the Worcester District Attorney Joseph D. Early, Marcotte most likely fought back leaving her attacker with cuts and bruises. The police canine unit found Marcotte’s body late Sunday evening, only about half of a mile away from where she was staying.

 

Potential Serial Killer: Similar Modus Operand

Both of the homicide cases share commonalities in the attacker or attackers modus operandi or mode of operation (MO). Both of the victims were young, Karina was 30 years old and Vanessa was 27; both also shared physical feature like brown hair and light brown/hazel eyes. The women were both attacked while jogging, and both of their bodies were found the same day as the attack suggesting the attacker wanted to work quickly and did not spend time hiding the body. One major difference between the two cases is that Karina was known to have jogged the same area fairly regularly and it is possible she was targeted, whereas Vanessa was only in town visiting for the weekend suggesting she was just at the wrong place and the wrong time. According to CNN, once the DNA from Vanessa’s body is back from analysis, the police will be able to determine whether or not the same person committed the two murders.

 

For more information visit: http://www.cnn.com/videos/us/2016/08/12/john-walsh-on-joggers-murder-newday.cnn

 Crime Scene Image

 

How to Stay Safe on a Run

Following the consecutive murders of Karina Vetrano and Vanessa Marcotte, many runners are wondering what techniques they can use to stay safe. Some basic safety tips include: running with others, running without headphones, change up your route, run against oncoming traffic, take self defense classes and carry mace (when legally allowed to do so).

  1. Running with others makes you less vulnerable to attackers. If there are multiple people capable of fighting back, an attacker will most likely go for someone more defenseless.
  2. Running with headphones distracts you. You can’t hear someone come up behind you or start following you. Staying aware of your surroundings is necessary when out for a run.
  3. Making changes to your routine can help you from being attacked by someone who knows your route. If you never stick to the same route, an attacker will have to improvise or find someone else making your chances of survival greater.
  4. Running against traffic helps you stay aware of cars driving by. It is more difficult for an attacker to drive up to you and grab you when you can see them slowing down or opening their door.
  5. Self-defense classes will help you stay calm and alert in order to resist an attacker. Knowing how to fight back is vital because in many cases an attacker will give up if you are not easy prey.
  6. Carry mace to blind and disorient your attacker.

Remember to trust your instincts. If you feel uncomfortable or nervous, no matter how crazy you may think you are, trust those feelings because they could save your life. Your subconscious and nervous system trigger those survival instincts for a reason, and you should listen and act accordingly.

 

If you have any information regarding Karina Vetrano’s murder call: NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782)

If you have any information regarding Vanessa Marcotte’s murder call: (508) 453-7589