Families Struggle 3 Years After Florida Teens Lost at Sea: 'There Is No Healing Process'


People Magazine - July 27, 2018

Unending mourning, ongoing legal battles and bittersweet celebration mark the third anniversary this week of the disappearance of two Florida teenagers into the Atlantic waters off Jupiter Inlet. On the morning of July 24, 2015, longtime friends Austin Stephanos and Perry Cohen boarded Austin’s 19-foot 1978 SeaCraft and set out for a fishing excursion, but never returned.

For three years, I’ve put my head on the pillow each night, thinking of him and praying that this wasn’t real,” said Pamela. “I used to dream about what he would be like as a man. I was robbed of that.
— Pamela Cohen, Perry Cohen's Mother

Guy Rubin on WPEC.com - Judge orders father of missing teen to release texts

by Kristen Chapman

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. (CBS12) — A Palm Beach County judge ordered the release of cell phone messages Thursday from Blu Stephanos, the father of Austin Stephanos, one of two teenagers who vanished last summer while setting out on a fishing trip.

Pamela Cohen, the mother of second missing teen Perry Cohen, is currently suing Austin’s family for wrongful death.

Cohen's attorneys requested access Thursday to all text messages sent by Stephanos on the day he discovered the two boys were missing.

Guy Rubin on CBS12 - Judge orders father of missing teen to release text messages

We’re going to be entitled to GPS information, which will show where Mr. Stephanos was during the course of his own search and rescue before 911 was called.
— Guy Bennett Rubin

by Kristen Chapman 

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. (CBS12) — A Palm Beach County judge ordered the release of cell phone messages Thursday from Blu Stephanos, the father of Austin Stephanos, one of two teenagers who vanished last summer while setting out on a fishing trip.

Pamela Cohen, the mother of second missing teen Perry Cohen, is currently suing Austin’s family for wrongful death.

Cohen's attorneys requested access Thursday to all text messages sent by Stephanos on the day he discovered the two boys were missing.

Guy Rubin on VeroNews.com: Sheriff doesn’t stonewall after shooting: That’s good, except when info is wrong

We’re being critical because we see things that are flawed in the system. Fifteen hours later, [while] the yellow tape was still up, the sheriff was exonerating his deputy.
— Guy Bennett Rubin, Esq.

Written by: Beth Walton August 31 2017

Across the nation in the hours following a fatal police shooting, top law-enforcement officials often remain tight lipped and reveal only scant details as a criminal investigation commences.
Not Indian River County Sheriff Deryl Loar.

Two women who were not criminals have been shot to death by Indian River County deputies in 2017. In each case, Loar stepped in front of TV cameras within 24 hours of the killing, encountering both criticism and strong community support.  He spoke both times with a somber tone and didn’t mince words as he defended his officers’ actions.

But sometimes, in the early hours of an investigation, details from a crime scene are rapidly changing, and sometimes the sheriff’s earliest remarks prove wrong.

Advocates for the families of Alteria Woods, who was shot 10 times by deputies during a drug raid in Gifford on March 19, and Susan Teel, who was killed by a deputy in her home on July 26, have questioned whether the sheriff’s public statements hamper the likelihood of a thorough and proper investigation.

When the top lawman “exonerates” his deputies before the facts are known, this influences public opinion and Sheriff’s Office personnel conducting the criminal investigation, said Guy Rubin.

Rubin & Rubin on TCPalm.com: Top stories of 2017 in Vero Beach, Sebastian, Indian River County

Dacia L Johnson,Maureen Kenyon and Hannah Schwab, Treasure Coast

Susan Teel dies in deputy-involved shooting: Indian River County Sheriff's deputies responded to a suicide call July 26 in Vero Beach. Susan Teel was shot and killed after she lunged at Deputy Jonathan Lozada with a butcher knife. Lozada was attempting to intervene in her attempted suicide. The lawyer for the Teel family said Aug. 4 they were not pushing for criminal charges to be filed against Lozada.

25 WPBF News: Family of woman shot by IRC deputy wants FDLE to take over investigation

The husband of the woman who was shot and killed by an Indian River County deputy last month is formally requesting an independent investigation into his wife's death.

Guy Rubin, Dr. Dudley Teel's attorney, sent a letter to the Sheriff's Office, formally requesting the Sheriff turn the investigation over to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

In July, Deputy Jonathan Lozada shot and killed Susan Teel in the family's Vero Beach home. Earlier that night, her daughter had called 911 after Teel's husband found her trying to cut her wrists.

Sheriff Deryl Loar told reporters in a news conference the following day that Teel lunged at Deputy Lozada with a knife. The Sheriff supported the deputy's decision saying that Lozada had no choice but to fire.

These statements...put all who serve Sheriff Loar in the position of contradicting their boss if they make conclusions inconsistent with Sheriff Loar’s statements.
— Guy Rubin

In the letter, the family claims what appears to be a conflict of interest - preventing an impartial investigation from the Sheriff's Office.

The letter reads, "Within 15 hours of Susan Teel's death by Deputy Jonathan Lozado, Sheriff Loar made numerous public comments in support of Lozado's actions, virtually exonerating Lozado. These comments came before the facts were gathered, and the investigation was obviously just under way."

Father of missing Tequesta teen wants name dismissed from lawsuit

When a party is not transparent, particularly in a situation when ordinarily parents would do everything they could to cooperate with law enforcement, that raises a lot of questions and red flags.
— Attorney Guy Rubin

By Jorge Milian - Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

JUPITER —  The father of one Tequesta teenager lost at sea in July 2015 is asking that his name be removed from a wrongful death lawsuit filed in July by the family of the other teen.

Perry Cohen and Austin Stephanos, both 14, disappeared July 24, 2015, after taking a 19-foot boat into a fierce offshore storm.  William “Blu” Stephanos, Austin’s father, is one of four people named in the court action. The others are Austin’s mother, Carly Black, his grandfather, Richard Kuntz, and his stepfather, Richard “Bubba” Black.

Stephanos wants to be “dismissed from this case as he did nothing wrong, he was not in charge of the boys and he had never seen the boat,” according to court documents filed in Palm Beach County Circuit Court.

The Cohen lawsuit alleges that Stephanos is responsible, in part, for Cohen’s death because he failed to notify authorities after learning that the boys were missing and then “delayed” the search “in the most critical moments” by conducting his own search while withholding information from rescuers.

Mark Rubin on WOKV: Former Rep. Corrine Brown denied new trial, acquittal for federal fraud convictions

By: Stephanie Brown 

Jacksonville, FL -  Now-former Democratic Congresswoman Corrine Brown has been denied a new trial, after being convicted on 18 of 22 federal fraud-related charges in May.

A judge has also issued an order denying a motion for acquittal. Brown’s sentencing has now been set for November 16th.

Brown was found guilty of soliciting hundreds of thousands of dollars for a sham charity called “One Door For Education”, using the money for personal expenses and lavish events instead. Her Chief of Staff Ronnie Simmons and the President of One Door Carla Wiley both pleaded guilty and testified against Brown at trial.

Simmons has now been formally adjudicated guilty and his sentencing has been set for November 15th. Wiley was adjudicated shortly after entering her plea in March 2016, but her sentencing has now also been set for November 15th, to take place in the same courtroom at the same time as Simmons.

Laurence Reisman: Lots of unanswered questions in deputy's fatal shooting of doctor's wife

Susan Teel wanted to die that night. Her family tried desperately to stop her. Ultimately, she was successful in committing suicide by cop.
— Guy Rubin

Laurence Reisman, larry.reisman@tcpalm.com

In 1994, an Indian River County sheriff's deputy thought he saw drugs thrown out of a suspect’s car in Gifford. A chase ensued. The driver of a fleeing vehicle ran a red light on U.S. 1, ramming the side of an eastbound vehicle, killing a woman and three children.

Given the carnage, this news organization questioned Sheriff Gary Wheeler's claim the chase had been broken off and the suspect’s vehicle was going only 70 mph. One of our reporters measured the skid marks. A retired traffic homicide investigator told him the fleeing car was traveling at more than 100 mph.

Last week, attorney Guy Rubin questioned Sheriff Deryl Loar’s defense of a deputy who shot to death Susan Teel, a doctor’s wife, in her home July 26. Deputy Jonathan Lozada arrived at the home after a 911 call saying Teel, 62, was trying to kill herself with a knife.

Lozada, a five-year deputy, fired after Teel lunged at him with a knife, Loar said.

"Let me be clear," Rubin said last week at a news conference. "Susan Teel wanted to die that night. Her family tried desperately to stop her. Ultimately, she was successful in committing suicide by cop."

Guy Rubin on TCPalm.com: Vero Beach shooting underscores need for mental health responders

Isn’t it time we have deputies trained to handle these cases more like The
NEGOTIATOR and less like RAMBO?
— Guy Rubin

Gil Smart, gil.smart@tcpalm.com

Woman with a knife lunges at cop. Cop fires, killing the woman.

It's a simple scenario, but not an easy one.

It describes what's alleged to have happened in a gated Vero Beach community July 26, when Indian River County Deputy Jonathan Lozada responded to a 911 call about a woman who had tried to commit suicide. Arriving at the home on Carriage Lake Way, he encountered Susan Teel, 62, who had slashed her own wrists with a knife.

According to the Indian River County Sheriff's Office, she then lunged at Lozada with the raised butcher knife, and he responded as law enforcement is trained to when confronted with a potentially deadly encounter: He fired. She died.

"Suicide by cop," it's called.

But did it have to be this way?

The attorney hired by the Teel family, Guy Rubin, has said Lozada might have prevented the deadly encounter if Indian River County and other law enforcement agencies had deputies "trained to handle these cases more like the negotiator and less like Rambo."

Guy Rubin on WFLX.com: Teel family questions deputy-involved shooting

Dr. Dudley Teel says his 40-year marriage to Susan Teel wasn't perfect. “Like all families, we had our ups and downs, but she was wonderful,” he says.

Dr. Teel says lately he saw a change is his wife, as a battle with depression sent her down a dark path. “Things just spiraled out of control and just got worse and worse,” he says.

The spiral culminated in the events of last Wednesday.

Indian River County deputies were called to the home of the Teels after she attempted to commit suicide.

The sheriff says Jonathan Lozada, was forced to shoot and kill Teel after she lunged at him with a butcher knife.

The family sees it another way.

“Isn't it time we have deputies trained to handle these cases like the negotiator and less like Rambo,” says family Attorney Guy Rubin.

Rubin says Susan's death was due to a lack of "intelligent policing' – and says it was the deputy who escalated the situation.

“Essentially approaching a person who was erratic and know to be erratic and put himself in harm’s way to then be in a position where deadly use of force was justified,” Rubin says. 

Guy Rubin on WPBF.com: Attorney for shooting victim's family speaks out

Whitney Burbank   

FORT PIERCE, Fla. — An attorney for the family of the woman who died in a deputy-involved shooting spoke on the steps of the St. Lucie County courthouse Friday.

When Susan Teel's daughter called 911 to say her mom was trying commit suicide, "She asked for an ambulance, not police," said attorney Guy Rubin during a news conference.

Indian River Sheriff Deputies were dispatched to the home of Teel and her husband Dr. Dudley Teel in Vero Beach last week.

Sheriff Deryl Loar said Dr. Teel discovered his wife cutting her wrists in the bathroom and when his deputy Deputy Jonathan Lozada arrived the 62-year-old woman lunged at him with a butcher knife.

"In the perfect situation he would have been able to go up and help her she would perhaps be alive but unfortunately this is a spit second decision," said Sheriff Loar last week.

Loar said the deputy took one shot at the woman who died from the injuries.

"Ultimately she was successful in committing suicide by cop," said Rubin.

Guy Rubin on CBS12.com: Attorney contradicts Sheriff after deputy kills woman: ‘Not a split second decision’

by Erin MachPherson

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY, Fla. (CBS 12) — Nine days ago, a 62-year-old woman was shot and killed by an Indian River County deputy after that deputy said Susan Teel lunged at him with a knife.

Friday, Teel’s husband expressed what happened that night. Dr. Dudley Teel said his wife was cutting her wrists with a knife and had been on anti-depressants for a while.

Dr. Teel struggled to talk at first but then opened up about his relationship with his wife.

“She was wonderful and we had just recently moved into this house and I switched my job so I didn't have to work as much and we just spent lots of time together. We'd sit on the back porch in the morning and we'd have coffee and watch the birds, I know it sounds dumb, but that's what we did. She would go to the gym and workout and I would go walk and we'd get back around 1:30 and then we'd go play golf,” said Dr. Teel.

Guy Rubin on TCPalm.com: Teel family seeking answers after deputy-involved shooting

Susan Teel with her daughter, Sara Gordon (left) and granddaughter, Isobel (right).

Susan Teel with her daughter, Sara Gordon (left) and granddaughter, Isobel (right).

Lucas Daprile, lucas.daprile@tcpalm.com

FORT PIERCE — Relatives of Susan Teel, fatally shot by an Indian River County sheriff's deputy in her home just more than a week ago, are not pushing for the deputy to be criminally charged in the shooting, the family's lawyer said Friday. 

Stuart-based attorney Guy Rubin, of Rubin & Rubin, said Friday the family is seeking "fairness, transparency and integrity." He declined to say whether he's considering a civil lawsuit.

"We don't want to put the cart in front of the horse," Rubin said during a news conference he called in front of the St. Lucie County Courthouse, a central location for those attending. He said he's waiting to see the investigation results.

The Sheriff's Office and the State Attorney's Office are conducting separate investigations into the events surrounding the shooting. A grand jury will determine whether criminal charges should be brought.

Deputy Jonathan Lozada responded to Teel's Carriage Lake Way home southwest of Vero Beach the night of July 26 after a 911 call about Susan Teel, 62, cutting her wrists in a suicide attempt. The Sheriff's Office reported she lunged at Lozada with a butcher knife and the deputy shot her, killing her. 

Guy Rubin on InsideEdition.com: Mom of Teen Who Went Missing at Sea with Friend Files Wrongful Death Lawsuit Against Other Family

by Maya Chung

The mother of a Florida teen who went missing at sea in 2015 along with his friend filed a wrongful death suit against the other teen's family on Friday.

The filing, which took place at the Palm Beach County Courthouse, came just days before the two year anniversary of the boys’ disappearance

Perry Cohen and Austin Stephanos, both 14, went missing off the coast of Florida during a fishing trip on Austin's boat the morning July 24. Two days later, the 19-foot fishing boat was spotted capsized during a widespread search for the teens.

The boys have since been presumed dead.

“This lawsuit is about truth, accountability and justice,” attorney Guy Rubin said in a statement on behalf of Pamela Cohen, Perry’s mother. “Perry’s family can not just move on, put this behind them or let it go.”

Cohen alleges in the lawsuit that Austin’s family was negligent and that it resulted in the boys’ deaths. 

In June, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement found that Carly Black, Austin’s mother, showed an “egregious lack of judgement and failure to execute due care” when she allowed the teens to go alone on a fishing trip in a “minimally equipped” 1978 boat.

Guy Rubin on Sun-Sentinel.com: Wrongful-death lawsuit filed in case of two Tequesta teens who vanished at sea

Adam Sacasa

The 2015 disappearance of two teens at sea took a new turn Friday when the family of one of the boys filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the other youth’s family.

The lawsuit filed by Perry Cohen’s family alleges negligence against the family of Austin Stephanos, said Guy Rubin, the attorney representing Perry’s mother, Pamela Cohen. The filing was made within days of the two-year anniversary of Austin and Perry’s disappearance.

According to Rubin, the allegations in the lawsuit include:

— The boat the two teens embarked on wasn’t properly equipped to go into the ocean.

— Austin’s parents knew the boys, both 14 at the time, were heading to the ocean.

— A lawsuit was Pamela Cohen’s only legal option after prosecutors declined to press charges.

Rubin discussed pursuing the civil case during a news conference outside the Palm Beach County Courthouse, but declined to answer reporters’ questions.

“This wasn’t a case of bad luck or simply bad weather,” said Rubin, reading from a statement. “Responsible parents would have never allowed 14-year-olds to go into the ocean on a small boat with no VHF radio, no tracking devices, no compass and no voyage plan.”

Guy Rubin on CBS12.com: Perry Cohen's family files civil lawsuit against Stephanos family

by Sierra Darville


The mother of Perry Cohen is filing a civil lawsuit against the family of Austin Stephanos.

The announcement of the lawsuit was announced at a Friday morning news conference in front of the Palm Beach County Courthouse.

Attorney Guy Rubin says Pamela Cohen is filing the lawsuit against all parties involved in the disappearance and presumed death of Perry including: William Stephanos, Carlson Black, Richard Black Jr. and Richard Kuntz.

According to the lawsuit, Perry told his mother he planned to spend the night at Austin's house, then fish in the river the morning of July 24, 2015.

However, the teen boys had plans to fish along the Florida coast.

According to Rubin, it was common knowledge among the families that Perry was not allowed to go fishing in the ocean without adult supervision or his mother's permission.

The lawsuit claims despite this knowledge, Austin's family provided him with money for fuel and gear to go deep sea fishing. It also states Austin's grandfather, Richard Kuntz, knew the boat they were taking out to sea was not equipped with any communication equipment, GPS or beacon necessary to require aid in the event of an emergency.

Guy Rubin on BuzzFeed.com: The Mom Of A Missing Florida Teen Is Suing The Family Of His Missing Friend For Negligence

Perry Cohen and Austin Stephanos went missing off the coast of Florida in July 2015. Now Amber Jamieson

Cohen's mother is suing Stephanos' family.

The mother of a teenager who went missing off the coast of Florida in 2015 is suing the family of her son's friend, accusing them of negligence that resulted in the presumed death of the two boys.

Monday, July 24, will mark two years since Perry Cohen and Austin Stephanos, both aged 14, went missing off the coast off Florida during a fishing trip in Stephanos' boat.

On Friday, Cohen's mother Pamela filed a lawsuit in a civil court in Palm Beach against Stephanos' mother, father, stepfather, and grandfather, arguing that they failed to protect her son, who had been on a sleepover at the Stephanos house the day the pair went missing.

Guy Rubin, the attorney for Pamela Cohen, said his client just wanted to know exactly what happened.

"It’s about finding the truth and teaching lessons about parental responsibility," he told BuzzFeed News. "They desperately miss their son and not having any finality as to what happened to him hurts the most. It just leaves an open wound."

Guy Rubin on TCPalm.com: Perry Cohen's mother files a wrongful death suit against relatives of boy also lost at sea

Melissa E. Holsman, melissa.holsman@tcpalm.com

WEST PALM BEACH — Nearly two years after Perry Cohen and his friend Austin Stephanos were lost at sea, Cohen's mother filed a lawsuit that accuses Stephanos family members of negligent supervision prior to the boys' disappearance.

Cohen and Austin Stephanos, both 14, were last seen leaving the Jupiter Inlet before vanishing at sea July 24, 2015.

In a wrongful death lawsuit filed Friday in West Palm Beach, Cohen's mother, Pamela Cohen, sued Stephanos' mother, Carlson "Carly" Black and his father, William "Blu" Stephanos, and accused the pair of negligent supervision and a breach of "parental trust" related to the boys' disappearance.

Stuart attorney Guy Rubin, who represents Pamela Cohen, filed the suit Friday in Palm Beach County Circuit Court, said the legal action was about pursuing the truth.

"This lawsuit is about truth, accountability and justice," Rubin said in a prepared statement. "Because the state attorney declined to pursue a criminal case, a civil action is now Pamela Cohen's only course."

Also named as defendants were Richard Brian "Bubba" Black Jr. and William Kuntz.

Any money damages awarded to the Cohen family, Rubin stated, will be donated to charity.