Man charged with murdering shipmate allegedly assaulted wife in Virginia

The Captain Billy Haver docked at the US Coast Guard station in Boston on Tuesday.
David L. Ryan/Globe Staff
The Captain Billy Haver docked at the US Coast Guard station in Boston on Tuesday.
Newport News (Va.) police
Franklin Freddy Meave Vazquez in an undated booking photo.

As chilling details emerged about the fatal rampage on a fishing boat off Massachusetts, records show that the suspect had been arrested in March for allegedly trying to strangle his wife in Virginia

Franklin Freddy Meave Vazquez, 27, is expected to appear in federal court in Boston this week to face charges in Sunday’s bludgeoning and fatal stabbing of one crew member, identified only by the initials J.S., and the attempted murder of a second victim, identified as R.H., on board the Captain Billy Haver. The Virginia-based vessel was sailing about 55 miles from Nantucket at the time.

An incident report from Newport News, Va., police shows Vazquez, a Mexico native who is living in the United States illegally, previously had been charged with assaulting and abducting his 20-year-old wife in that state in the predawn hours of March 8.


She told police that her husband attempted to strangle her.

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“After getting free she attempted to call a family member for help, but the suspect . . . took her phone and refused to let her leave,” the report said. “The victim began screaming after Mr. Vasquez repeatedly pushed her and only stopped when she agreed to stop screaming.”

The woman tried to call 911, according to the report, but Vazquez prevented her. “She was eventually able to make contact with a family member who came and picked her up.”

The victim sustained non-life threatening injuries, police said. At 8:45 p.m., officers arrested Vasquez at his residence.

He was charged with multiple counts in Virginia including abduction by force, intimidation, or deception and assault on a family member, police said. It wasn’t immediately clear how that case was resolved.


In the Massachusetts case, an affidavit said Vazquez was released on bond in the Virginia matter and placed into immigration proceedings on April 2.

Lindsay McDannold, the Virginia woman’s mother, said Vazquez has a history of heroin addiction and had been charged with drug offenses in that state.

“I just don’t understand how a known drug addict [and] violent criminal can be [permitted] . . . to stay in this country,” McDannold said. “We seriously need to look at that.”

She said the murder victim on the fishing vessel “could have been my daughter. . . . For [Vazquez] to have freaked out the way he did, he had to have a break in reality.”

In a statement, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement said its agents encountered Vazquez “at the Norfolk City Jail in Virginia through its Criminal Alien Program in March 2018 after he was arrested by the Newport News Police Department on forcible abduction charges, which are still pending.”


ICE said Vazquez entered its custody upon his release from jail but that an immigration judge granted him bond over objections from the agency, which released him April 27.

Shelby McDannold, the Virginia woman’s father, said his daughter and Vazquez married in June 2017 and separated after the March altercation, which he said was touched off by a “control issue.” Vazquez, McDannold said, expected women to be submissive “and my daughter is not submissive.”

He said his daughter lost consciousness during the alleged March attack.

Vazquez “had been physical before, and she had had enough,” Shelby McDannold said. “She fought back, and that unleashed him attacking her.”

The federal affidavit in the Massachusetts case described a chilling series of attacks aboard the vessel. It said crew member R.H. heard yelling from the deck and ran around the corner, where he received three strikes to the back of his head.

“R.H. fell on the deck,” the filing said. “He saw that he was covered in blood. He looked up and saw Vazquez with a hammer in one hand and a knife in the other hand. Vazquez looked at R.H. and said, ‘Just stay there.’ ”

Then, records show, R.H. spotted another crew member, identified as J.S., lying a few feet away with blood coming out of his mouth.

Meanwhile, the rampage continued.

“R.H. heard other crewmembers down below in the ice hold,” the affidavit said. “One crewmember, J.Z., emerged from the hold. R.H. saw Vazquez hit J.Z. with a hammer. According to the captain of the vessel, Vazquez climbed up the mast as other crewmembers tried to capture Vazquez, holding a hammer and a knife as he did so. Vazquez then threw the knife onto the deck.”

The captain put out a distress call to the Coast Guard around 2:30 p.m., the filing said, and the German cruise ship Mein Schiff 6 pulled up alongside the fishing vessel and took J.S. and R.H. on board.

A cruise ship doctor pronounced J.S. dead soon afterward.

“J.S. had a visible wound to the head and stab wounds to the torso,” the affidavit said.

A motive for the attack wasn’t disclosed in court papers.

Travis Andersen can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.