Guatemala, Rio Dulce – Fatal Pirate Attack 2008 – Updates

Published 15 years ago, updated 5 years ago

Update 28 July 2009

As reported in Cruising Compass

Two brothers were sentenced yesterday to 60 years in prison for the death of Daniel Perry Dryden of the United States and attempted murder of his wife, Nancy on their boat, s/v Sunday’s Child, according to Prensa Libre writer Sandra Osorio. The sentence was handed down by Court of Criminal Judgments Judge Jose Rodriguez Pazos, who sentenced them to 30 years for murder, 20 for attempted murder and aggravated robbery by 10. During the trial, the prosecution evidence showed the ice pick and a pair of binoculars found in a search that took place in the house of the two brothers. Two other persons believed to have been involved in the attack were reported killed after the incident.

Update sent January 2009

In preparing for her court trial of the accused killers, Nancy had gone onto her site and wrote a detailed account of what happened on August 9th. See here – “The Account of August 9th attack”. Sadly, the accused were released when Nancy came back down to the city to testify because the judge said they could not be identified. The perps had shaved their heads and grown beards.

Reported August 2008 in the Associated Press and El Periodico, Guatemala

At approximately 10 p.m. on the night of Saturday 09 August, 4 men with machetes boarded an anchored vessel, with the apparent intent to rob. When they were met with resistance, it became a cruisers biggest nightmare.

Dan and Nancy Dryden had bought SUNDAY’S CHILD several months ago and were looking forward to years of pleasant sailing experiences. They were anchored off the small cove near Monkey Bay Marina and Lubi’s house when the incident occurred. Details are still somewhat sketchy, but in resisting the robbers, Dan was killed and Nancy, although seriously wounded, was able to use the VHF radio to summon help.

The stations and boaters that still had their radios on at that hour came to assist, and Nancy was transported to a private hospital in Morales, reportedly with a punctured lung.

In a telephone interview from her hospital bed, Nancy Dryden, 67, said, “They poked us and stabbed us with the machetes, and they were asking for money, specifically dollars.”

The thieves were apparently unhappy with the take. “We had a few quetzales (Guatemala’s currency), but we had no dollars with us on the boat,” Dryden recounted.

The Dryden, who are retired and live near Anchorage, Alaska, had bought the boat in February. They were equipping the vessel in preparation for a voyage into the Caribbean and eventually to the eastern coast of the United States. Dryden said the four assailants may have reached the boat by swimming from shore and brandished long machetes that “seemed liked curved swords.” After assaulting the couple, the men demanded she hands over the keys to the vessel, which has an auxiliary motor. When she didn’t – she was unable to tell whether they wanted the keys to the boat or a small dinghy the couple used to get to shore – the men left, also apparently by swimming.

Dryden struggled over to the boat’s radio and sent out a distress call. “I said we need help … I said my husband was not moving,” Dryden recalled. She said she expects her children to arrive in Guatemala Monday and plans to be transferred to the United States for medical care.

Two suspects have now been arrested. According to information received from El Periodico in Guatemala City, Carlos Ernesto Lemus Hernandez, 19, and his brother Elfido Concepcion Lemus Hernandez, 33, both of the village of Esmeralda, near Mario’s Marina, were taken in custody after a search of their home resulted in the discovery of an ice pick, binoculars believed to have been taken from the Dryden’s sailboat, s/v Sunday’s Child, as well as a quantity of marijuana.

Our thanks to Lee Winters for further information – see The Adventures of Bruadair

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