Where Is Terry Jo Duperrault Family Now?

By Ankit Karki | February 14, 2023 08:36 AM

Terry Duperrault [second from right] with husband Ron Fassbender [right] at her niece Trista Scheer's Drill Instructor Graduation Ceremony in 2011
Terry Duperrault [second from right] with husband Ron Fassbender [right] at her niece Trista Scheer's Drill Instructor Graduation Ceremony in 2011( Source : facebook )

Terry Jo Duperrault family consists of her husband Ron Fassbender and their six children. The couple has five grandkids and live a retired life in Wisconsin, USA.

Dupperrault is the survivor of the 1961 Bluebelle ship massacre that took the lives of five people. She was dubbed as The Sea Orphan after the Blubelle ship incident.

Terry, who was 11 years old at the time, was on a vacation with her parents and siblings. They had plans to spend a week on the ocean, traveling back and forth from the Florida Key to the Bahamas. 

On the night of November 12, 1961, ship captain Julain Harvey killed his sixth wife along with Terry's parents, her brother, and younger sister. 

Dupperrault miraculously survived the tragedy but it took her over 20 years to talk publicly about what happened on the night of the killings.

Terry published her book titled Alone: Orphaned on the Ocean in 2010. Via the book, she opened up about her experience aboard the Bluebelle.

Terry Jo Duperrault Resides In Wisconsin With Husband

Terry Jo Duperrault family is settled in Kewaunee, Wisconsin. Terry now lives a retired life with her husband Ron Fassbender.

Terry is happily married to Ron, a native of Chetek, Wisconsin. The couple has altogether six children including three from Terry's past relationships and three from Ron's previous partners.

Duperrault and Fassbender have three children each from their former partners, among whom two of Ron's children are named Tom Fassbender and Carla Fassbender.

Likewise, the duo also have five grandchildren in their family, according to CBS News.

Ron's Facebook bio mentions that he got married to Terry on August 21, 2010. While the date of their anniversary is accurate, the year mentioned in the bio seems inaccurate as the couple has been married for longer than that. 

Terry and Ron live a retired life and spend lots of quality time with their children.

Terry Duperrault with husband Ron Fassbender in 2012
Terry Duperrault with husband Ron Fassbender in 2012( Source : facebook )

Despite suffering from a terrible tragedy at the age of 11, Terry never considered herself a victim but a survivor.

She studied X-ray technology during her younger years but eventually quit as she could not cope with the patients' trauma. The survivor later attended the University of Wisconsis-Green Bay and graduated with a bachelor's degree in cultural geography. 

Duperrault went on to lead a successful career as a Water Management Specialist. She worked for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources for over 14 years before retiring. 

Terry didn't speak about the incident publicly for over 20 years after the massacre. She eventually published a book titled Alone: Orphaned on the Ocean in 2010. The book, co-authored by psychologist Richard D Logan, covers her experience aboard the Bluebelle.

As of 2023, Terry is 73 years old; she celebrated her 73rd birthday back on February 9, 2023. She has also legally changed her name to Tere Duperrault.

The Duperrault Family

Terry was one of the five members of the  Duperrault Family along with her parents and two siblings.

Her father Arthur Duperrault was a contact lens optometrist based in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Also a World War II veteran, Arthur was the son of Ernest Wayland and Jane M Duperrault.

Arthur was married to Jean Brosh Duperrault, Terry's mother. Jean was born on July 16, 1923, to Stella Valasta Kuchar and William J Brosh.

Bluebelle survivor Terry Duperrault as seen during a 2010 interview
Bluebelle survivor Terry Duperrault as seen during a 2010 interview( Source : reddit )

The couple had three children from their marriage: Brian H Dupperault {born 1947], Terry Jo Dupperrault, and Rene J Dupperrault [1954]. Brian was the elder brother of Terry and Rene was her younger sister.

Ever since Brian sailed across the North Atlantic to serve in the second world war, he wished to take his wife and family on a vacation, sailing from the Florida Keys to the Bahamas.

Bluebelle Ship True Story

As part of an advanced plan, the Duperrault family chartered a 60-foot-long ship named Bluebelle for $515. 

The family planned to spend a week aboard the ship, traveling from the Florida Key to the Bahamas and docking in several locations. They hired Julian Harvey, a former acquaintance of Arthur, to serve as the captain of the boat for a daily fee of $100. 

Similarly, his wife Mary Dene Harvey, a former stewardess, was also hired to serve as the cook.

The Bluebelle left the Bahia Mar Marina dock on November 8, 1961. Over the next few days, the ship reached destinations, including Sandy Point and Bimini. The ship was last seen docked on November 12 as the family prepared to return to Florida.

Cover of Terry Duperrault's 2010 book Alone: Orphaned on the Ocean
Cover of Terry Duperrault's 2010 book Alone: Orphaned on the Ocean ( Source : amazon )

On the night of the tragedy, Terry Jo and her family enjoyed a family dinner together after which she left for her cabin located below the deck. 

According to Terry's recollection, she left for her cabin at around 9 pm with her parents, siblings, and the Harvey couple still on the deck. However, she was later woken up by the screams of her brother. As she climbed up the deck, Jo noticed the bodies of her mother and brother in the captain's cabin. 

As she moved further, Duperrault noticed that Harvey was carrying a bucket. He pushed her below and asked her to return to the sleeping cabin. He later went to her cabin with a rifle but left without shooting her.

Terry found Julian again when she climbed up the deck. He asked her to hold a rope that was attached to a dinghy. However, Duperrault loses the rope, causing the captain to jump overboard and abandon the ship.

Harvey was eventually rescued by an oil tanker named Gulf Lion on November 13 at around 12:30 in the afternoon. He told the crew members that his vessel struck a strong wind which broke the mast of the ship. Harvey added that he tried to save the people aboard Bluebelle but was forced to leave after a fire broke out.

When Gulf Lion rescued Harvey, he had the body of Rene, the younger sister of Terry. As per Harvey, the child was already dead when he found her. He tried to revive Rene but couldn't succeed; he still kept the child's body in the raft due to his respect for the Duperrault family.

The authorities found that Harvey's dinghy was loaded with fresh supplies. Also, his calm behavior during the interrogation raised suspicions. But, the authorities had no motives to suspect foul play.

Likewise, on November 16, Terry was discovered by crew members of former carrier ship Captain Theo. She was floating on a small cork at the time of her rescue. 

Terry was almost out of breath from the heatstroke and starving during her rescue. While she identified herself as Terry Jo Duperrault to her rescuers, she was unable to give any additional info.

Terry was immediately airlifted to a hospital in Miami. Her condition significantly improved in the next few days but it would take a whole week before she could record her official statement. 

In her testimony, Duperrault stated that Bluebelle's mast was not broken and there was no fire on the deck. She also recounted the massacre she witnessed aboard the ship.

For her unlikely survival, Terry was given multiple nicknames, including sea orphan, sea waif, and more. 

Meanwhile, Julian had learned of Terry's rescue during an interrogation on November 17. After hearing she was alive, Harvey asked for a break citing reasons that he wanted to talk to his wife's family. He then rented a room at the Sandman Motel under the fake name John Monroe. 

Harvey slashed his ankles, thigh, and jugular vein. He committed suicide, leaving behind a two-page note addressed to a close friend. However, he didn't explain his motives or apologized for his actions in the suicide note.

Who Is Captain Julian Harvey?

Julian Harvey was the acting captain aboard the 60-foot ship Bluebelle. He was hired by the Duperrault family for a fee of $100 per day.

Harvey, who was 44 at the time of his death in 1961, was born in New York on March 1, 1917. During his youth, he worked as a model for the New York-based John Roberts Powers Agency.

Julian enlisted in the US Air Force during the second world war and flew the B-24D, Hellsadroppin. He worked closely with the 93rd Bomb Group, flying 29 combat missions.

After the war, Harvey qualified to serve on bombing missions with a fighter plane. He flew a total of 114 missions during the Koren war. He had reached the position of Major at the time of his medical discharge in 1958.

While Harvey never disclosed the reasons for committing such an atrocity, investigators discovered that he had taken a double indemnity insurance policy of $20 thousand in his wife's name. If she died in an accident. he would receive $40 thousand.

Further, the investigators found out that he had taken a similar policy on his second wife, who died in a car accident in 1949. Apparently, Harvey was driving the car but survived the accident without any serious injury.

Likewise, he had also been involved in two previous boat accidents and received large sums from their insurance.

The investigation finally concluded that Harvey killed his sixth wife Mary Dene Harvey for the insurance money. He didn't initially intend on killing the Duperrault family but did so after they witnessed his wife's killing. 

As for why left Terry alive, investigators have a few theories. Some believe that Harvey thought she would eventually die on the ship. so he left her. Others think that Terry losing the rope to the dinghy might have saved her life.