Honeymoons are supposed to be an idyllic time when just-married couples celebrate their union and spend lots of romantic and relaxing time together. But for some couples, the dream vacation turns to a nightmare — and “till death to us part” comes sooner rather than later.
Below are five horrible honeymoon cases that shocked the world:
1. Tina Watson
Watson was a 26-year-old Alabama newlywed who died while scuba diving on her honeymoon in Queensland, Australia, on October 22, 2003.
Her husband, David Gabriel “Gabe” Watson, was initially charged by Queensland authorities with his wife’s murder. This was later to changed to manslaughter, and he served 18 months in prison.
After his release, he was deported from Australia to Alabama after Australian authorities received assurance Watson would not be sentenced to the death penalty if found guilty of murder. He was tried in Alabama, where the court heard that his wife was an inexperienced diver who was ill-equipped for the strong currents of the Yongala dive.
Watson said he was not “making rational choices” when he returned to the surface after his wife began to show signs of distress.
In February 2012 a judge dismissed the murder case due to lack of evidence. [ABC News]
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2. Anni Dewani
Anni was murdered while on her honeymoon in South Africa. The taxi she and her husband, millionaire businessman Shrien Dewani, were traveling in was carjacked while driving through a township near Capetown.
Shrien was released unharmed, but 28-year-old Anni’s body was found on the backseat of their taxi the following day.
Three other men were jailed for the killing: Mziwamadoda Qwabe, Zola Tongo, and Xolile Mngeni. All received lengthy prison sentences — and a fourth man received immunity for testifying against them.
The suspects initially admitted to murder, but later changed their stories to allege that Anni’s killing had been a “murder for hire” ordered by Shrien. The allegation of the husband’s involvement made global headlines, and a cloud of suspicion surrounded Shrien. After a long legal battle, he was extradited from the U.K. to South Africa to face trial. In December 2014, a Western High Court exonerated him, finding that there was no credible evidence to support the allegations of a murder for hire. [Daily Mirror]
3. Cody Johnson
Jordan Graham, 22, was sentenced to 30 years in prison in 2014 for the murder of her husband, Cody Johnson.
Graham admitted shoving Johnson off a cliff hike at Glacier National Park only eight days after their wedding. She claimed they had argued and she had told her new husband that she wasn’t happy and “wasn’t sure we should be married” — and then shoved him. He fell 200 feet to his death, and was found under the cliff three days later.
After the murder, Graham drove to her home an hour away and told friends and family that Johnson had gone for a “joyride” with friends.
4. Ben and Catherine Mullany
The brutal double murder of Ben and Catherine Mullany on July 12, 2008, in Antigua actually sparked a diplomatic row between the U.K. and the Caribbean island.
The couple were fatally shot in their hotel cottage during what authorities believed was a robbery attempt. Catherine was shot in the head and died instantly. Ben died a week later in the hospital.
In July 2011, Kaniel Martin and Avie Howell were found guilty of their murders, as well as that of a shopkeeper, Woneta Anderson. Howell was shot and killed by police in June 2014 after escaping from jail.
In the wake of the tragedy, Antigua Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer took measures to increase Antigua’s police power including stop and search powers for the police, systematic searches of pockets “within various communities” for guns and drugs, and additional surveillance cameras. The British government caused controversy when they demanded that anyone convicted of the crime not face the death penalty.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Spencer blamed Britain and the United States for the escalating violence in his country, saying that over 280 criminals had been deported to Antigua over the previous decade.
5. George Smith IV
Twenty-six year old George Smith IV of Greenwich, Connecticut, and his new bride Jennifer were enjoying their honeymoon cruise somewhere in the waters between Greece and Turkey on the Royal Caribbean ship “Brilliance of the Seas,” when the new groom went overboard. Jennifer was later found passed out in a hallway.
The ship’s captain said that the incident, which followed a night of heavy drinking and gambling in the ship’s casino, was most likely an accident. But some circumstances remain suspicious. Two men claimed that they tucked Smith into bed, but a man in a nearby room said he heard men arguing on the Smiths’ balcony that night, and another passenger claimed to hear sounds like furniture being moved.
The FBI closed the investigation in 2015, but Smith’s parents have openly stated that they are still convinced their son was murdered. The family has offered a $100,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the case.