Case #3 The Improbable Journey
For 48-year-old divorcé Neil Wayne Eddleman, it was his weekend to spend with his son, 13-year-old Neil Alan Eddleman. Just a normal weekend…but one that would end in death and one of the largest Coast Guard searches in Florida history.
Neil Alan lived with his mother in Golden Gate, Florida, where his father picked him up for two days of fishing. The father and son left from Naples on October 17, 2003, with dad's friend Gary Lisk aboard Lisk's 24' What's Left. That was the last anyone saw of them. All that's known is that the boat failed to return to Naples the following day. The Coast Guard went looking - a $1.6 million, 130,000-square-mile, week-long search - but found nothing.
Then, more than two weeks later, the boat-badly battered and out of gas - reappeared. But here's the strange part: It showed up in Cape Canaveral, on the other side of the state, fully 550 miles away. Inside was Gary Lisk, his body too badly decomposed to determine a cause of death. There was no trace of either Eddleman.
Since then, Karen Eddleman, the mother of Neil Alan, has been trying to figure out what happened-and to find her son. "It's a total nightmare," she says. "The local police don't do anything, and despite tons of requests to the FBI under the Freedom of Information Act, I can't get them to release any details of their investigation."
The local police feel that this was a boating accident. The boat was probably tied to a tower or some other structure, the rope broke during a storm, and Lisk was killed while the Eddlemans were washed out to sea. But Karen's not so sure. Lisk supposedly left behind a float plan saying where he was going fishing. But Karen believes someone else wrote the plan after the fact, to make the Coast Guard look in the wrong place.
And she's rightfully disturbed by the case's biggest mystery-that the boat ended up on Florida's east coast. "The boat would have had to steer itself through the Florida Keys," she stresses.
What happened? Did the father run off with his son? "With his personality, it's possible," says Karen. And none of their possessions was found on the boat. But then $3,000 was found in the father's home, which would probably come in handy when running away. Did the two get mixed up in something? Do they both have amnesia? Or are they at the bottom of the ocean?
The Eddlemans were declared dead in 2005, and Karen filed a wrongful death lawsuit against her ex-husband's estate as well as that of Lisk's, claiming the men were negligent for boating in inclement weather. The suit was settled for $300,000. But for Karen it doesn't erase the agony of losing her son. She's consulted numerous psychics, many of whom have said that her son is still alive. It's a sliver of hope that Karen holds onto every day.