Connect with us

You are here

Lisa Bishop

A freighter disappears with nine people on board after leaving Miami for Haiti.

Lisa Bishop


Height: 5’2”
Eyes: Brown
Hair: Brown

Florian Bourch befriended Lisa


Gender: Male
Height: 6’2”
Eyes: Blue
Hair: Blonde

The Freedon never made it to Haiti

A witness claimed he saw the missing ship


An actual photo of the Freedon

In January, 1989, Falcon jets from the United States Coast Guard searched the Old Bahama Channel in the Caribbean for an 82-foot freighter called the Freedon. The ship was on its way to Haiti but had been reported missing. On board were seven Haitian crewmembers, a young sea captain, and a 23-year old American journalism student named Lisa Bishop. Lisa's mother, Linda Bishop, said that Lisa had called her to say goodbye on the morning of her departure:

"I could feel something was wrong. Mother's intuition, I guess you could call it. Lisa was to call me when she arrived. And that call never came."

Lisa wanted to write an article about the contrasts between the wealth of America and the economic devastation of Haiti. Her voyage on the Freedon was the chance of a lifetime, even though it meant leaving behind her boyfriend of three years, Paul Cornwell:

"We had a long discussion the night before she left, that she had to make her own decisions in life, that I couldn't follow her and take care of her wherever she went."

The Freedon was supposed to dock at Haiti

Somewhere between Miami and Haiti, the Freedon simply vanished. No one has any idea what happened or why. People have suggested everything from pirates, to smugglers, and even the mysterious Bermuda Triangle.  

Lisa's voyage began when she met a 28-year old German national named Florian Meyer Bourch at a nightclub owned by her boyfriend. Florian was a marine mechanic and sea captain who had sailed throughout the Caribbean. According to Linda Bishop:

"From what I've learned about him, Florian is a drifter, and he sponges off of people. Freeloads."

A year after their first meeting, Florian told Lisa of an upcoming voyage from Miami to Haiti. He invited her to join him. Paul was upset when Lisa told him that she planned to sail to Haiti with Florian:  

"I didn't trust him with Lisa. Of course, I was concerned about Florian, you know, being a young guy. And she tried to tell me there was nothing to worry about, there was nothing romantic.   I tried to discourage her as her parents tried to discourage her from going."

Lisa's father, Bill Bishop, said there was no talking Lisa out of it:

"I expressed my feelings about it, that I didn't want her to go or anything, and Lisa was a very headstrong girl when she made up her mind to do something."

On the morning of December 17 th , 1988, at 2:30 in the afternoon, tugboats eased the Freedon through the Miami River on its way out to sea. The Freedon's planned route would take the ship 600 miles past the coast of Cuba to Gonaives, a small port on the western coast of Haiti. There were no storms and no distress calls, but the Freedon never arrived. When Lisa didn't call on Christmas Day, her family became concerned. Lt. Cdr. Jeff Karonis was with the U.S. Coast Guard:

"The relatives of the people on board kept calling us, asking us for information. We kept in touch with the port authorities in the various ports in the Caribbean area, and likewise, down in Haiti. We sent several search and rescue flights in the most commonly traveled areas in the Old Bahama Channel, which is the area between the United States and Haiti. Still, it was unsuccessful."

Linda Bishop and her husband traveled to Miami:

"We came to Miami hoping to maybe get some answers from some of Florian's friends or just find anything we could. We were desperate."

Finally, Lisa's parents received a promising lead. An underwater salvager named Bob Nyberg said that he had seen the ship two weeks after it was supposed to have disappeared:

"I remembered that while I was working in Grand Cayman in January of that year, there'd been a boat that came in. We were working underwater, directly in the harbor area where the ships pulled up and tied up. When I heard the ship coming in, we came up, and as I was coming out of the water, we looked back and noticed that the name was Freedon. F-R-E-E-D-O-N.   And I made a statement to my friend, that those guys need their freedom, they can't even spell the word. They were there for some time that afternoon. The next morning the boat was gone."

Nyberg saw the Freedon in Georgetown Harbor on Grand Cayman Island, over 500 miles from Haiti. It was the kind of news Linda Bishop had been hoping for:

"The fact that the ship was spotted, and that it had not gone down, brought me hope that Lisa was alive and had to be held against her will in order for her not to contact us."

Lisa's boyfriend, Paul Cornwell, and Bob Nyberg went to Grand Cayman to pursue the lead. They met a number of witnesses who claimed to have seen Florian around the same time that Nyberg spotted the Freedon. Apparently, Florian was not alone during his mysterious visit to Grand Cayman. Some saw him with a short man with black hair.

Paul returned to Atlanta and questioned a woman who had been storing Florian's personal belongings. There he found a picture of the man seen with Florian in Grand Cayman. The woman said his name was Phillipe. Paul later found out that it was actually Phillipe who had chartered the Freedon.  

"The girl told me that he mentioned that he was involved in a large scale smuggling thing, and that something had gone wrong, and that they had gotten involved in something too deep that Lisa didn't know about and couldn't handle it. I feel that if Florian is out there, eventually, I'll find out about it, and I'll locate him."

Authorities believe that Florian Meyer Bourch is the key to the Freedon's disappearance.

Watch this case now on Amazon Prime in season three with Robert Stack and in season five with Dennis Farina. Also available on YouTube with Dennis Farina.



Anonymous's picture

any updates

unsolved's picture

This case is still unsolved - please let us know if you have any tips!

Ashley's picture

When I Google the name "Floridan Bourch" it has 2 images that pop up. One is the photo that you have of him before he went missing. The other photo is a recent photo of a older man, probably around his current age, that appears to look very similar to him??? Has he been found?

unsolved's picture

This case is still unsolved as of September 2014.

Kat's picture

The photo of the older man just happens to be on the same page as an article about the disappearance of the Freedon. That man is a child molester wanted by the FBI.'s picture

There are many, many conjectures as to the fates of Ms. Bishop, Mr. Fourche, and the crewmen. Why would the total focus reside mainly on Ms. Bishop when it can be interpreted as a relationship between the two. She left her partner, he left his, (the belongings, I don't believe were 'stored') and the following story was wrapped around it. How did Paul know the lady who was in possession of abandoned items? Why does Paul say that he 'will' find him? Hmmm. Paul easily traveled abroad-could she just as easily have done the same? Florian was younger and better looking-by society's standards-than Paul-he mentioned it-and that in itself lent credence that something else is afoot. The ship sank. The ship was repainted and renamed. The ship was sighted. The cargo was a smuggler's paradise-by hearsay. What's the real story? If none of the people have actually been seen, except for the purported views of Florian and Felipe/Philippe(st?) yet information is relayed by Paul... For one to vehement about leaving for places unknown does not come lightly. They had known each other for a year-as stated-and if nothing happened onshore during that period, is it a given that she actually made it beyond the shore? Something's fishy.

Apasserby's picture

I hire u to investigate this!

Rebecca's picture

It seems Paul knew Florian a great deal. How did he know where Florian stayed. Paul returned to Atlanta and questioned a woman who had been storing Florian's personal belongings. A witness claimed he saw the missing ship, but no sightings of the passengers. This story just doesn't add up Florian invited Lisa along on the voyage to Haiti, knowing she was in a relationship with Paul. Lisa accepted his offer she had known him little over a year. It seems that Florian or someone else took the ship in another direction and not the direction toward Haiti they led people to believe. The ship was painted and renamed why? Paul said I feel that if Florian is out there, eventually, I'll find out about it, and I'll locate him." it sounds like he knows more about Florian that he is saying. This must be devastating for Lisa's parents their daughter vanished without a trace, not knowing what happened to her is too much for any parent to bear. My prayers goes out to this family.

unsolved's picture

test comment

bill's picture

When i was stationed in Miami beach with the Coast Guard, We were going up the Miami River and I remember seeing a Haitian freighter tied up. I can't remember the name of the boat, but what really stuck out at me was there was a different name that had been painted over underneath the name. It was back in 1990. I am not 100% sure, but I really believe it said Freedon. Sorry, but I wasn't aware of this mystery at the time and I realize I could be wrong but it has always bothered me.

Jill's picture

Is it possible that she was smuggled and sold? Is it possible that Paul allegedly is involved.
Maybe she ran away from Paul. Has anyone checked to see if she is in a sex ring? Something I saw on a show that people are sold. Scary. Maybe paul got rid of them both. This is tragic. I am so sorry for the family of Lisa Bishop. Anyone, if you are seeing this. Know that your family will never stop looking for you. Prayers to the bishop family. May you have an answer and a safe return of your daughter.

Mona's picture

I knew her,and also Paul. They were my friends. The last thing that would have been going on,is that she was trying to get away from him. They had a non drama happy relationship. She was young and adventurous wwand wanted to write an article about the poor living conditions in Haiti.She saw the voyage as a great opportunity. When you're young,you believe that you're invincible,that nothing will happen to you. Lisa was a kind beautiful person. She was too trusting,apparently.She didnt have an awareness of the cruelty in the world

Derek's picture

Wow look at that boat. It's obvious she was having some sort of fling with this foreigner. Some females get swept away by the mysterious type. She trust this man with her life. Maybe she wasn't happy with bf or bored so she wanted to test the waters. So sad because this cost her life.

Vanessa's picture

Are you seriously blaming her for her own death? You are a bad, bad person.

JoeKulik's picture

He's NOT a Bad Person at all IMO. After 25 years as a True Crime fan, I have seen MANY murder victims who were partially responsible for their own deaths. Poor Life Choices end up poorly, even sometimes in getting murdered. This gal was A Fool for not doing a background search on Florian B4 she abandoned her life & ran off with him. Knowing someone for a year is NOTHING in our Anonymous Society. If Florian really was a smuggler, a background check (now possible online) would've probably revealed to this poor gal who she was REALLY dealing with.

joe 's picture

Dont docks have log book was the bout actually there or any were with that name or even that type of bout.??

Involved 's picture

Read the New Times (Miami) article on the Freedon case. It is the most comprehensive account of what was known at the time of the vessel's disappearance. Of note was the poor (rough) weather right after the vessel departed Miami, it's lack of communications and survival equipment, and poor condition. A tragic event for sure. The most likely outcome is that the vessel sank before it was ever reported missing.

Ty's picture

The new name on that ship is freeliaint!

F.M.B.'s picture

How do you know this? Where did you get this info? It may be important.

M White's picture

I am not being disrespectful, I have a wife and daughter too. I know if this would have happened to me, I would spend the rest of my life searching for them. Is it possible that a sinister spin was placed upon this that need not be? Is it possible that the ship just sank? I looked at pictures of that ship, it did not look that sea worthy. I just find it hard to believe that no one has spotted them, the ship is very noticeable it would have been spotted by now. I just think the ship sank and they have passed shortly after they set off on the trip and nothing underhanded happened. I could certainly be wrong, but it is just hard to keep hidden this long, unless you are on the bottom of the ocean. I have worked in Law enforcement and have seen reports that have sighting of individuals all over broad areas, they can be very convincing and appear to be accurate, later to find out that they were completely wrong. That maybe what happened here with the sightings of the two men.

carlos's picture

hi how are ya

Ciara 's picture

So many speculations! I think it simply sank...

Anonymous's picture

@UnsolvedMysteries Is there an investigating agency assigned to this case?

unsolved's picture

Yes, the case is being handled by the Miami Police Department.

James's picture

Obvious this woman was having a fling with this guy. Women don't just jump up and proclaim they are traveling with a guy and tell family and their BF who are begging them not to go to basically mind their own business if they are not romantically involved with the person.

Find me one woman who would go anywhere with a guy they are not sleeping with and I'll show you an ostrich that eats bologna sandwiches.

This is a strange case no doubt but this was not some innocent little journey she was taking.

M's picture

For whatever it's worth,I knew her, and she would never fall for that drifter. She was young and jumped at the opportunity to go on an adventure to write an article that would maybe lead to some exposure in her journalism career. She was in a happy relationship. All has nothing to do FC that she ended up on a boat w people she should not have trusted. At her age, you don't think that you will be harmed in any scenario.

Jaime Britten's picture

I don't think this case will be solved, to many twists and turns, though somewhere down the Iine I believe she was taken from that freight trailor by pirates or even sold, I think this will stay as a mystery.

Add new comment

Filtered HTML Format

  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.