Details of Disappearance
Neil Wayne went on an ocean fishing trip with his friend Gary Lisk, 61, and his son, Neil Alan Eddleman, on October 17, 2003 in Naples, Florida. Photographs of Lisk and of a boat similar to the one they had are posted with this case summary. The boat, which belonged to Lisk and was named What's Left, was a white 24-foot Hydra-Sports vessel with a white hard top and a single 200HP Evinrude outboard engine; it was made in 1997.
Lisk and the Eddlemans were reportedly bound for the California, a shipwreck sixty miles southwest of Marco Island which is a popular spot for diving and catching grouper fish. They took all reasonable safety precautions when they left, such as bringing along safety equipment. Weather conditions in the area were calm.
At 7:00 p.m., two hours after the boat left shore, Neil Alan attempted to call his girlfriend on his cellular phone from a point seventeen miles outside Gordon Pass. This is the last contact ever made with any of them.
The three boaters were supposed to return at 6:00 p.m. on October 18, but did not. Neil Wayne's wife called police when they had not returned by 11:00 p.m., and the United States Coast Guard then launched a search for them.
There was a report that they landed in Cuba and were taken prisoner by the Cubans, but this turned out to be false. On October 24, having looked over 129,000 square miles of the Gulf of Mexico with no result, the Coast Guard suspended the search for them.
On November 3, wreckage of the boat was found upside-down on the shore of Cape Canaveral, Florida, near a National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) launch pad, on military land. This spot is 527 miles from the last contact and on the Atlantic side of Florida.
Photographs of the wrecked boat are posted with this case summary. Sea life evidence on the boat indicated that it had capsized and floated upside-down for at least two weeks, possibly in the Gulf Stream, before coming ashore.
Lisk's body was found in the wreckage and identified on November 6. While an autopsy could not determine the exact cause of his death due to decomposition, police say there was no evidence of foul play. He was a diabetic and had only two days' worth of insulin on him when he left Naples.
Lisk's family members, however, are suspicious of his death and the Eddlemans' disappearances. Before departing for his fishing trip, Lisk left a note on his home's door saying he would be gone for a few days; his family says this is uncharacteristic of him, as the note would invite burglars. His daughter said the note did not appear to be in Lisk's handwriting.
Someone changed the locks on Lisk's home in his absence. He was a drug counselor and psychotherapist and police say his patients changed the locks to keep their confidentiality secure, but Lisk's family disputes this.
Neil Alan and Neil Wayne's remains were not found with Lisk's or anywhere else; there was no indication whatsoever of their whereabouts. They have never been heard from again.
The two of them were declared legally dead in July 2005; Neil Alan's mother sought for a "presumptive death certificate" for her son so she could file lawsuits against Neil Wayne and Lisk's estates. She alleges that the men were negligent when driving the boat and that this resulted in her son's wrongful death.
Neil Wayne was employed as an addiction counselor at the time of his disappearance. He and his son were both members of the Naples Seventh Day Adventist Church. Neil Wayne and his son remain missing and their cases are unsolved.