The family of one of the two missing Florida teens is insisting that the state’s top law enforcement agency take a lead role in probing their disappearances and treat it like a criminal investigation, rather than a missing persons case.
Neither Perry Cohen and Austin Stephanos, both 14, have been seen since they left Jupiter Inlet on July 24, 2015.
— WPBF 25 News (@WPBF25News) May 17, 2016
On Wednesday, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement said Wednesday it will have a back-up role to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, which is investigating the case. Rick Swearingen, the FDLE commissioner, got a letter from State Rep. Irv Slosberg, D-Boca Raton, requesting that his agency start a criminal investigation, reported the Palm Beach Post.
The agency, a spokesperson said, will provide “forensic and investigative assistance.”
In the letter, Slosberg wrote: “Until all other possibilities, including but not limited to, murder, abduction, sex trafficking, have been ruled out, we need to commit our best resources by the most appropriate state agency [to] handle this investigation … FDLE.”
Somewhere on this ship is the boat that carried Perry Cohen and Austin Stephanos to sea last July. pic.twitter.com/IfTv7ae4Dr
— Terry Spencer (@terryspen) May 16, 2016
“We owe it to the parents of Austin and Perry to make every attempt to find out what happen(ed) to their children,” Slosberg wrote.
Last week, reports said that the iPhone belonging to Austin could not be salvaged. It was sent to Apple so that its workers could perform a forensic analysis on the device, which was at least partially submerged in seawater for nearly a year.
The boat the boys had used was recovered in March by a Norwegian supply ship. The vessel was sent to a port in Florida last week.
An attorney for Pamela Cohen, the mother of Perry, reached out to the FWC and FDLE asking for the boat to be analyzed forensically, reported People magazine.
— Greg Angel (@NewsGuyGreg) May 11, 2016
“The FWC has indicated publicly it would ‘take a look’ at the boat when it arrives at Port Everglades, however my client would like FWC to do more than just ‘take a look.’ If FWC, which clearly had jurisdiction over this investigation, does not intend to re-open that investigation and conduct a thorough forensic evaluation of the vessel, then Ms. Cohen would like FDLE to exercise its jurisdiction to take over this investigation to its conclusion,” Rubin wrote on her behalf.
“Alternatively, if FWC wishes to maintain its jurisdiction over this investigation, then we would request FDLE provide support through its forensic expertise and laboratories. Simply put, my client would like a proper forensic examination by qualified investigators and have the boat handled as if it were a possible crime scene. This is not to say we believe a crime was committed, but rather nothing should be ruled out until the vessel is fully examined and all possibilities are either ruled in or ruled out.”