American missing in Honduras since May 10, 2009
Natalee Holloway Foundation Lends Support as Search Focus Shifts to Land
The involvement of the family of Natalee Holloway, who disappeared while vacationing in Aruba in 2005, comes as the Dunsavages shift the focus of their search for Joe from an extensive, privately funded air and sea search to explore possibilities on land that U.S. authorities have chosen not to examine.
“We deeply appreciate the help of the Holloway family and the foundation,” said Ed Dunsavage, Sr., father of the missing man. “We remember how the Holloways struggled through Natalee’s disappearance and are grateful for their involvement in our search for Joe.”
Joe Dunsavage, a 49-year-old mortgage banker from Edison, NJ, disappeared while fishing off the island of Roatan, Honduras, where he is part owner of a small tourism business. Military and civilian drift assessments indicate that he should have made landfall on the Honduran mainland within 20 hours of his disappearance, and yet no sign of him or the “virtually unsinkable” Craig Cat catamaran has appeared in the month since. The only solid leads the family has of Joe Dunsavage’s whereabouts are multiple reports that an American was found in or near the waters around La Ceiba, Honduras, and was being treated for dehydration in a hospital there.
“These reports surfaced within days of Joe’s disappearance, before any publicity about his disappearance reached the mainland,” said Jeff Dunsavage, Joe’s brother and spokesman for the family. “They were corroborated by a doctor in Puerto Cortes, Honduras, who was told an American was being treated in the emergency room at Centro Honduran Hospital the Wednesday after Joe went missing. The doctor gave us the hospital’s phone number and we gave it to the U.S. Embassy in Honduras. But whenever anyone associated with the search reached out to the hospital they were told the person was a Spaniard or a Honduran or didn’t exist.”
The only thing more mysterious to the Dunsavage family than Joe’s disappearance without a trace is the Embassy’s unwillingness to send an Embassy representative to check out the reports. Instead, the Embassy relied on Honduran police and “local liaisons.”
“This isn’t New York City,” Jeff Dunsavage said. “The number of hospitals in La Ceiba and what constitutes a hospital there is a matter of conjecture. We’ve done our best to send people to follow up these leads, but the trail has gone cold. We’re all amateurs. We just don’t understand why the Embassy could not have sent professionals to investigate this in the beginning.”
No other reports of Joe’s whereabouts have appeared anywhere in the region, even after publicity reached the mainland – including the offer of a $1,000 reward for the boat (whoever comes forth gets the money and can keep the boat – they just have to prove they have it and show where they found it). The Dunsavage family has spent tens of thousands of dollars in their search for Joe, starting the night he went missing.
“We had helicopters, boats, and planes in the air just about every day for weeks,” Ed Dunsavage, a former U.S. Navy man, said. “We’ve done just about everything we can on our own – we need federal resources to investigate my son’s disappearance properly.”
The family has sought help from its U.S. senators and representatives and the FBI, to no avail. Although the offices of Sens. Menendez and Lautenberg and Rep. Pallone have provided assistance, none of the elected representatives have heeded the Dunsavage family’s repeated requests for a U.S.-led investigation into Joe’s disappearance and the State Department’s handling of the search.
In addition to seeking the initiation of a U.S. investigation into Joe's disappearance, the Dunsavages are working with private resources to expand the inland search for information about Joe's whereabouts. Anyone who wants to assist the family in this expensive endeavor can send donations to the J. Dunsavage SAR Fund, Wachovia Bank, account number: 1010231145095 and routing number: 021200025.