Annette Mizener, 37 – Suspicious Overboard, Carnival Pride Passenger, December 4, 2004, Time of Death 9:30.
Annette Mizener, 37, from Waukesha, Wisconsin, was traveling with her parents Wally and Heidi Knerler and teenage daughter Danielle aboard Carnival Cruise Lines’ Carnival Pride. She was in cabin #6169. She was part of a group of 200 passengers from the Las Vegas Hilton.
On the last night of a West Coast cruise from Los Angeles, while off the coast of Mexico, Annette had left to go play bingo. She had won at bingo twice already on the cruise, and was supposed to meet her parents for the 10pm bingo. In fact, she said she wanted to arrive early to get a good seat.
When she didn’t show up, her parents became concerned and her father began to look for her. He searched for her in the casino. A witness said she was in the casino at 9:30pm. As he continued to search he heard her name paged, and became very worried. The crew had found her handbag on deck, and had paged her to give it back. That page was around 10:10pm Her small black, beaded evening bag along with an overturned drink glass, and scattered papers was found alongside a railing on a lower deck of the cruise ship, outside an internet Café/Library. A security camera was tampered with, actually covered with paper near that location. Yet, no cruise ship crew or security noticed the covered camera, or the image not on the monitor in security.
Beads from her purse were found on deck, appearing to have been ripped from the purse in a struggle. That was the single most important clue to her parents, that a struggle had taken place. Spots of blood were found on the deck near the purse. Her daughter states there was a man harassing her mother aboard ship. Security had been notified of this many times, and refused to assist.
The cruise lines says the ship’s crew launched a room-by-room search of the Pride after Mizener’s daughter Danielle and other passengers noticed she was missing. That search took three hours and during that time, the ship continued on their course. Then, they called the U.S. Coast Guard which told the ship to turn around and search the waters. The ship was turned around around 2:00am The U.S. Coast Guard joined in the search with aircraft and a Navy ship, and searched the waters for 16 hours, searching 833 square miles, before the search was called off.
Annette and husband John were married three years, and were in bankruptcy, according to bankruptcy attorney Christopher Drout, working to extricate themselves from more than $250,000 in debts, the couple knew the case was about to end and that they would be discharged from their debts without losing their home or other personal belongings.
At the time of her disappearance, Mizener and her husband had recently adopted two other children, 11 and 9, and had launched a new business together selling dietary supplements. The business was a dream come true, and she was very excited about it and having the adopted children. She also had a pending case as plaintiff for child support for children of a past marriage, indicating she had plans to continue her life. Peter Knerler, Annette’s brother said she was in good spirits, and there is no way she committed suicide.
The cruise had been won in a Carnival Cruise Lines raffle by Annette’s mother. A letter arrived in the mail to Annette Mizener offering a chance to win another cruise, after she died.
FBI investigation – Early on John Mizener claimed the FBI suspected foul play. Inconsistency’s in a crew responses to questioning of the disappearance, John Mizener, her husband, complained of communication failure between Carnival and the FBI. The agency told the family several months after she vanished, that there’s evidence in a crime lab preventing the probe’s completion.
A person of Interest (POI) says he too has become a victim in this case, hounded by the FBI, who he alleges told lies to his fiancée, his friends, and his neighbors. His account is unverified. We have withheld his name, at his request. When Cruise Bruise first began to investigate this POI, his photograph was on the web, and we took a screenshot of it at that time. The day after we contacted him, it was gone. To our knowledge, it was the only photograph of him on the web. Page
(POI) He is age 35, a chemical engineer, working full time and college for Network Security. On the day Annette Mizener went missing, December 4, 2004, our POI says he was on his first cruise. He was with his fiance and about 10 friends having a good time, on the last day of this cruise. He says he hasn’t cruised since, and will never cruise with Carnival Cruise Lines again.
It all began with a trip out to the deck to smoke a cigarette, he says. He arrived on deck and noticed that something seemed a miss. He saw a woman’s black, beaded evening handbag laying open on deck, beads from the handbag strewn about, some blood on the deck, scattered papers on deck, an overturned beverage glass, a note tucked into a life ring nearby and an emergency strobe partially out of it’s bracket. Approximately 20′ further aft, he also saw a pen. He also saw a security camera covered with paper.Though at the scene, he says he never touched anything, and had never met Annette or anyone from her family.
The covered security camera has been discussed at length since the incident, and there are those who believe this pointed to a pre-meditated murder, perhaps even a contract killing. Seeing another angle, there are people who have identified themselves publicly as police officers, who say it could very well be the camera was covered for a lover’s tryst on deck, and had nothing at all to do with Annette Mizener. Only the video tape would tell when the camera was covered. That is a fact only the FBI and the cruise line know for sure.
Our POI says about the same time, two security guards arrived, and collected her open handbag, then removed a large amount of cash from it. This was around 10pm according to documented accounts of the scene. He went back and joined his traveling companions, and told them about what he saw. In some subsequent trips to the scene, he was accompanied by friends who were curious as well.
He is on record as having at least six trips to the scene. After discovering the scene, he initially visited the scene a couple times at 15-30 minute intervals, saw and talked to Annette’s daughter at 11:00pm and again around 1:00am. He says it wasn’t until around 4:30am that security roped off the scene, over six hours after Annette disappeared. This allowed anyone to walk through the scene, look at it, touch things, or whatever. He says he packed, and left the ship with everyone else. In one account, he stated he was “followed and harassed by Carnival Cruise Lines Security employees who insinuated that I had something to do with the passenger’s disappearance. My cabin was searched without my authorization PRIOR to the Captain announcing that there would be a ship wide search for the missing passenger.”
When he was disembarking, he saw a crew member handcuffed and being lead off the ship by the Department Of Homeland Security. Another passenger says he witnessed the arrest as well, but says he doesn’t know if it was related to Mizener. Then, our POI says the FBI told him in the beginning the crew member was a suspect, they had a full set of prints. But, he had left the cruise line and gone back to his native country, and they ‘couldn’t touch him’. He says that at that point, they began to focus on him, an American, looking for anyone they could pin the crime on. That is our first indication that the case is being treated as a crime, according to this POI.
Immediate reports from the crew, jumping to conclusions, were that it was a suicide, and there are witnesses that heard them say that in front of Annette’s daughter.
After leaving the ship, he told his story numerous times, in a wide range of places, saying he “sent numerous emails and faxes with information about what had happened.” to the FBI, and he contacted Annette’s husband and father, to tell them what he knew as well. He also says after reading a public statement he made, Annette’s family contacted him.
A month after the cruise, he received a contact from the cruise line, saying “The head of security of Carnival did call me after the cruise and ask if there was anything that they could do for me and I told him to shove it and that they needed to start thinking about Annette’s family.” He alleged, “The FBI waited for over a year [she went missing December 4, 2004] to finally interview me any questions despite the fact that I sent them numerous emails and faxes with information about what had happened.”.
When they finally did contact him, He says, “The Lancaster agent was retiring and he just wanted to close the case. The San Jose agent just did not care in the beginning. I have been harassed by the FBI for over a year and it was continual.” and “I have not seen or heard from the FBI in over 6 months now, but I still think of them every day.”
Then, in what the POI describes as a “crazy” twist to this case, he tell us that he was labeled by the FBI as a “hit man”, who traveled to Southern California to kill people, and that they somehow drew a connection from his Disneyland trips to being a hit man, to killing Annette though he has never known or come into contact with anyone who was murdered. They never told him who might of hired him to kill Annette, or for that matter the others they loosely alleged he killed. Though “They did play the murder for hire thing pretty good”, he says.
It is unclear how trips to southern California relate to Mizener who lived with her husband and children in Wisconsin, while her first husband lived in Arizona. While he did visit the scene at least a half dozen times, and contact the FBI numerous times, that might be behavior associated with some killers, but it seems very odd for a seasoned professional contract killer. He alleges they told his fiance that he never graduated from high school nor received a college degree. He says since she attended both events, she clearly knew they were fabricating lies. Not only that, he says his diplomas are on the wall in his office. “More puzzling he was labeled as a man with a history as a “woman beater” when they spoke to his fiance, though she is the only woman he has been with since high school.
“They (the FBI) kept asking her (my fiance) to just tell them that I told her I did something to Annette and they would take care of the rest.” he said. It is his impression the FBI agents were fishing with the past abuse story, but didn’t know the woman they were fishing with knew their story was impossible. He says his finance labeled the agents as the “Federal Bureau Of Intimidation” because of their tactics with her.
In April 2006, he says a grand jury was held in Los Angeles, almost a year and half after Annette went missing, and he was requested to provide fingerprints, a full set, “inked prints of my palms, fingers, sides of fingers, fingertips, and sides of my hand.” He says he offered to give DNA, they took his DNA, and “informed me that it may be months before I was cleared because the war in Iraq had a higher priority.”
A grand jury is held when there are possible charges involving “capital or infamous crimes” under federal jurisdiction, as mandated under the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution. It is an opportunity to compel testimony from a person of interest, giving evidence against him/herself, without legal representation, and can prove useful in building up the case they will present at the final trial.
He says he has been cleared after DNA results. It would seem if his prints and/or DNA matched those found near where Annette went missing, after he stated he touched nothing, he would have been arrested by now. According to him, he offered to take a lie detector test, and the FBI refused to issue one, saying ” they do not believe in them.” Then he adds, “My lawyer later informed me to not take one.”
There was also a case of a missing woman in a town he had recently visited, who also fit the same loose description of Annette. She went missing a few months before Annette. All the women were 30 to 40 years old, married, blond, blue eyed, around 5’5″ tall and none have been found. Other than these facts and their proximity to places the POI has been, there seems to be no connection between these victims, and the person of interest in the Annette Mizener case. In addition, in our research, we noted men with his name, in various states, who had been wanted in connection with or arrested for drug related charges, bomb threats, and child support arrears.
Then, perhaps another coincidence, there was the one who is known by fellow spelunkers, as an overly curious risk taker, in a high stakes game of trespassing in a metropolitan area near the hometown of this person of interest. They are known for trespassing on abandoned subway stations and underground tunnels to closed mental hospitals and decommissioned military bunkers.
A man with the POI’s name, specifically trespassed at Alcatraz prison, and is known for using old topographical maps that sometimes show locations that no longer appear on newer ones, and night-vision goggles, while picking locks, and dodging guards.
There is yet another, who has a blog that is severely critical of the U.S. federal government. He comes right out and calls current U.S president George W Bush a liar, and bares some likeness to our POI. Could it be the FBI drew some connection between one of them, and this man? If they did, is all this enough to give the FBI reason to hound this person of interest, and ruin his reputation in the course of the Annette Mizener investigation?
The account of this tragedy by the person of interest, points to Annette Mizener being murdered, the murderer walking free in another nation, and an innocent passenger being ruined in his community. It is only one possible scenario in this missing passenger case.
It is worthy to note, that he has posted extensively on the web, and those that have passed judgement on him, may not have done so based solely on what the FBI has said, so much as what he himself has said in his writings. His apparent overly curious nature, may have done him more personal harm than it did the case good.
However, the details, as outlined by this POI, remind us of a secondary victim, Richard Jewel of Georgia. He was another person first on the scene in the case of the Centennial Olympic Park bombing, who suffered humiliation in the public eye, sued, and won at least one $500,000 judgement as a result. Later, Eric Robert Rudolph plead guilty to the bombing, and several other bombings of abortion clinics.