The family of a cruise ship singer found dead in her cabin almost five years ago is fighting police to reopen her case.
Jackie Kastrinelis, 24, was found dead on the Seven Seas Voyager near Darwin, Australia, in February 2013. The Massachusetts-native had worked on the cruise ship for two years and planned to audition for a role on Broadway when she returned home, Daily Mail reports.
Her family believes police in Australia bungled the investigation of her death. Police initially ruled that the 24-year-old died from “sudden unexplained death syndrome” in her sleep, but a coroner in the U.S. agrees with the family that the case doesn’t make sense.
Jackie, it’s so hard to grasp the fact that you’re no longer with us. You have always been someone I’ve looked up to and…
Deputy coroner Kelvin Currie wrote to the family that coroner Greg Cavanagh is considering asking police for a new investigation.
“He noted your concerns about the conduct of the police investigation conducted on behalf of the coroner and indicated that he shares some of those same concerns.”
The family said that several factors went wrong in the investigation, including failure to collect DNA samples and not following up on the suspects’ stories. Three men last saw her alive, but door swipes from the night of her death aren’t consistent with their stories.
Kastrinelis’ ex-boyfriend Roman, a Ukranian saxophone player, initially lied to police about his relationship with the 24-year-old but eventually admitted to being jealous of seeing her with another man named Daniel, who said he had consensual sex with the victim 30 hours before her death.
An engineer named Jaanus told police he said goodnight to the 24-year-old before she entered her room for the night.
A record of door swipes show inconsistencies in the men’s stories. Jaanus’ room was entered at 12:50 a.m., though he told police he saw her later than that, and Roman said he spotted the pair together at 1:40 a.m.
Kastrinelis entered her room at 1:41 a.m. and Roman left and entered his room at 1:50 a.m., 2:28 a.m., and 3:13 a.m. Roman was unable to tell police where he went that night.
In addition to these inconsistencies, police failed to gather a sufficient amount of DNA samples and didn’t test for fingerprints in Kastrinelis’ cabin.
The singer’s body was also not tested for the drug ketamine, also known as Special K, an animal tranquilizer that’s been associated with drug use among humans due to it’s ability to increase euphoric feelings. Ketamine is also known as a “date rape drug,” as it can leave people immobile and disassociated from their surroundings.
“Why didn’t they test for the third frequently used date rape drug, ketamine, which I note is just as readily available in foreign ports, has the same tasteless and odourless properties as [the other date rape drugs that were tested for] GHB and Rohypnol when mixed with alcohol and can result in death when mixed as such,” Attilio Paglia, chief of staff to Massachusetts state Senator Bruce Tarr, asked, according to The Australian.
The cruise ship ended up leaving with all three men on board.
The Northern Territory police eventually admitted their mistakes to the family saying, “‘we have failed to provide you a professional level of service,” and sent a package of samples to police in Massachusetts and the FBI.
The packages, however, were missing blood samples and pictures from the autopsy. NT police insist they sent them, but FedEx receipts reportedly show otherwise.
The family now awaits the coroner’s decision on whether to reopen Kastrinelis’ case.
[Feature photo: Jackie Kastrinelis/Handout]