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Missing Robert Lee Vendrick
Vendrick, circa 2008; Gary Shawkey
Missing Since 02/15/2008
Orange County, California
Classification Endangered Missing
Date of Birth Used 01/30/1937 (84)
Age 71 years old
Height and Weight 6'0, 180 pounds
Medical Conditions Vendrick suffers from diabetes and requires medication that he doesn't have with him.
Distinguishing Characteristics Caucasian male. Graying brown hair, hazel eyes.
Details of Disappearance Vendrick and another man, Gary A. Shawkey, set sail out of Dana Point Harbor in Orange County, California between 7:00 and 8:00 a.m. on February 15, 2008. They were sailing their 23-foot boat, the Odyssey, which they had purchased the day before.
Shawkey returned to shore on February 19, without Vendrick. He called the Long Beach Police Department at 8:00 p.m. and said he wanted to talk. He was questioned and then released without charge.
Shawkey said Vendrick changed his mind about the investment while they were out on the water, and that he returned Vendrick to Dana Point Harbor and sailed away alone. Police impounded the Odyssey and examined it for clues, and discovered its anchor and chain had been replaced.
Shawkey said he lost the old anchor and chain at sea, and bought a new one when he arrived back onshore a few days later. Divers in the ocean found an anchor and parts of a chain, but it hasn't been confirmed that they were from the Odyssey's.
The boat's engine had also been replaced. Shawkey said the engine hadn't been working properly and he replaced it on February 15, abandoning the old one on a fueling dock. The old one hasn't been found.
Shawkey was imprisoned in Virginia after Vendrick's disappearance on unrelated charges of check-kiting. In February 2009, while still incarcerated in Virginia, he was charged with Vendrick's murder. He was tried in June 2011, and his defense suggested Vendrick had good reasons to walk out of his life and may not even be dead.
Shawkey was convicted and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
An extensive search of the ocean between Dana Point and San Clemente Island turned up no sign of Vendrick. He has no sailing experience. Foul play is suspected in his case due to the circumstances involved.
Investigating Agency / Department