Snapchat messages, texts and emails exist that show the parents of Austin Stephanos may have known the two 14-year-old boys were headed to the Bahamas before they went missing off Jupiter Inlet in July 2015, an attorney for Perry Cohen’s father said in Palm Beach County court today.
“Who knows? What was known? This father deserves to know what happened to his son,” said Matt Weissing, the attorney representing Cohen said at the 90-minute hearing.
Text messages from the boys to and from their families and friends were handed out by Weissing.
Perry Cohen and Austin Stephanos never returned from a boat trip through the Jupiter Inlet on July 24, 2015. The 14-year-old boys were not found despite a massive search of more than 50,000 square miles of sea by the U.S. Coast Guard and the families.
Blu Stephanos emphatically denied he had any knowledge his son was considering taking the boat to the Bahamas.
“I didn’t know. There is no way I would have let him go if if had any idea knowledge he was considering it,” Stephanos said after the hearing.
The 19-foot boat, found by a Norwegian transport ship March 18, was brought back to Port Everglades May 16. An iPhone was found aboard the boat.
Apple computer experts disassembled the phone. They were unable to get any information from the device. Apple still has the phone.
Perry Cohen’s father Phil Cohen has filed a bill of discovery to allow release of the electronic information.
Attorneys for Perry Cohen’s mother Pamela, as well as Blu Stephanos and Carly Black — the parents of Austin — want the bill of discovery denied.
“It’s a fishing expedition. It’s to seek information for a potential lawsuit,” said George Harris, lawyer for Carly Black.
Phil Cohen obtained the electronic message from the boys from his own investigation. The information did not come from Apple, said Weissing.
Asked if he would use the electronic messages as a basis for a lawsuit, Weissing said: “It depends on what they show.”
The electronic messages should not be made public because they are personal and confidential, lawyers for Black and Stephanos said.
“They are messages between a son and his family,” said Michael Pike, the lawyer representing Stephanos, said after the hearing.
Palm Beach County Circuit Court Judge Gregory Keyser did not make a ruling Tuesday. The next step is a Dec. 15 hearing.