Stepdaughter of Drowning Victim Questions Police Inaction

The stepdaughter of the man who was found floating in Cruz Bay harbor in early August is questioning how the Virgin Islands Police Department handled the case.

Keith Anderson, 51, of Connecticut, who arrived on St. John on July 29 and lodged at the Cinnamon Bay Campgrounds, was found floating in Cruz Bay on the morning of August 8. Virgin Islands National Park rangers retrieved the body at 10:15 a.m. that morning and brought him to the National Park dock in Cruz Bay Creek, where the case was turned over to the VIPD.

There was no identification on the body, but police officers found a travelers check in the victim’s pocket which had a name on it. A Cruz Bay street person approached VIPD officers the same day and handed over a birth certificate which had the same name that was printed on the travelers check, VIPD spokesperson Shawna Richards previously told the St. John Tradewinds.

No Attempt To Contact Family
Despite the leads, VIPD officers did not attempt to contact the name on the travelers check and birth certificate in their possession, according to Anderson’s stepdaughter, Morgan Norberg.

“I’m almost positive that his name was still in the phone book and I don’t understand why no one tried to contact us,” Norberg said.

The family last heard from Anderson on August 6, when he left a phone message stating he was looking for a boat to purchase in Coral Bay, Norberg explained.

“He sounded great on the message, he was totally coherent and said he would be in touch,” his stepdaughter said. “For him to slip into such a state of intoxication that he would walk into the water and die in a day seems far fetched to me. I can’t help but think that something may have happened and the police didn’t pursue it.”

After not hearing from Anderson for a couple of weeks, the family didn’t get worried at first, according to Norberg.

Family Contacts VIPD
“We thought it strange that we had not heard from him but we thought maybe he was on a fishing trip or something,” she said. “After a few more weeks went by, we started getting worried because he would have been in touch with us.”

Norberg said her sister called the VIPD on September 14 and described Anderson – who had several distinguishing tattoos. It was then she was told that police had a body which matched the description, the stepdaughter explained.

“We found out by calling the police,” Norberg said. “We thought we were calling about a missing person and we weren’t prepared to hear to the news.”

No Information from Data Bases
VIPD officials followed procedures on the case, according to the VIPD’s Richards.

“When the gentleman was found floating there was no identification on this person,” Richards said. “Police contacted other Caribbean jurisdictions to find out if anyone matching his description had been reported missing. Police took fingerprints and ran them through our data bases to see if there were any hits that would lead to the identification of the individual.”

If VIPD officers did search data bases, Anderson’s name would have turned up, Norberg explained.
“He has a record, so if they checked, something would have come up,” his stepdaughter said. “I don’t think it would have been hard to find to him.”

VIPD officers were given more information about Anderson’s identity on Septem-ber 15, when they contacted his family, Richards explained.

Documents Found in Locker
“While the investigation was ongoing, the National Park Service found a locker at Cinnamon Bay Campground which had a passport, travelers checks and other documents which were attributed to this individual,” Richards said. “I have a receipt which has the date when the documents were turned over, which is September 15. This information was received by police and it was given over to our major crimes unit who contacted the family.”

Richards did not know whether a toxicology report was conducted on the body.
Anderson’s father – who is estranged from the rest of the family – traveled to the Virgin Islands and identified the body, but Norberg is still seeking answers.

Putting Pieces Together
“Keith’s father is the only one who had the means to go down there,” she said. “We are all in New England and we’re college students who work and couldn’t get there. We’re trying to put the pieces together by whatever means possible.”

The family has not heard from Anderson’s father or VIPD officials, Norberg explained.
“Keith’s father hasn’t returned any phone calls and the police won’t return my calls,” she said. “I want an apology and an explanation for why the police didn’t do more to identify him.”

Not knowing what happened is the hardest part for the family, Norberg explained.

“They are calling it a drowning, but someone could have held his head under the water,” she said. “There has been no follow up. It’s just really, really hard.”

“It’s so hard to grieve when you don’t know what happened,” Norberg said.