Days into a scalloping trip aboard an 85-foot boat, a crewman brutally attacked half his coworkers and stabbed one to death with a long fishing knife while off the coast of Massachusetts, federal prosecutors say.
Franklin Freddy Meave Vazquez, 31, a Mexican national who had been living in Virginia, is going to prison after using the knife and a large hammer during the “unprovoked” attack that took place near Nantucket on Sept. 23, 2018, according to a news release.
“We have a man gone crazy here on the boat....,” the ship’s captain, Jose Araiza, said during a distress call made to the Coast Guard, court documents show. “We have one man I can’t wake. I don’t know if he’s dead or what. But one of the crew members went crazy. He started hitting people in the head with a hammer.”
Vazquez was sentenced to 20 years in prison on Aug. 11 after previously pleading guilty to second-degree murder, attempted murder and assault with a dangerous weapon, according to the release from the U.S. Attorney’s office for the District of Massachusetts. He will face deportation proceedings after serving his sentence.
The chaos aboard the The Captain Billy Haver ship ensued after the vessel left a port from Seaford, Virginia/, on Sept. 18 and sailed north for a scalloping trip with seven men, including Vazquez, all of whom “got along” with each other, court documents state. The trip was supposed to last roughly two weeks.
The morning of Sept. 23, the crewman tried to quit but the captain sent him back to bed, with another crewmate describing Vazquez as being “dopesick” after a few days of using prescription and over-the-counter painkillers, according to prosecutors.
However, Vazquez later rejoined the work and was shucking scallops with a few of his crewmates when he took a drag of one of his coworker’s cigarettes, according to court documents.
Then, “out of nowhere,” Vazquez picked up a hammer and smashed this coworker on the head before using a long fishing knife to repeatedly stab another nearby crewmate, a sentencing memorandum states.
“Freddy, what did I do to you?,” the stabbed crewmate had called out to Vazquez, according to prosecutors.
The commotion was heard by other coworkers below deck in the ship’s ice hold and one, who knew Vazquez for 10 years, climbed up the ladder and was met with a hammer blow to the head, court documents state. This caused the bloodied man to fall back down into the ice hold.
Then, Vazquez shut the ice hold’s hatch and covered it with a bucket of scallops to prevent those inside from leaving, according to the sentencing memorandum.
Meanwhile, as the stabbed crewmate was bleeding on the deck, Vazquez approached Araiza, the ship’s captain, and tried to stab him during a struggle, prosecutors say. Vazquez broke away from the fight and ran to another area of the ship, giving Araiza enough time to make a distress call that was heard by other boats.
This led to a nearby German cruise ship sending over a rescue boat, which brought two crewmates, including the one stabbed, back to the cruise ship to safety, court documents state. There, the one stabbed was pronounced dead by a doctor.
Ultimately, the Coast Guard arrived, secured the ship and apprehended Vazquez who stated “I am not a criminal,” according to a sentencing memorandum.
Vazquez’s attacks against his crewmates, who had “no reason whatsoever” to suspect the violence would occur, were described as “deeply personal and motiveless” in the sentencing memorandum.
Prosecutors say Vazquez’s 20-year prison sentence will provide him with “much needed mental health and substance abuse treatment.”
“This was a horrific act of workplace violence,” U.S. Attorney Rachael S. Rollins said in a statement. “Today’s sentence, although it cannot erase the traumatic and pain caused to the families of the murder victim and the survivors of the brutal attack, I hope it brings some accountability.”
Vazquez’s sentence will also be followed by three years of supervised release, according to the release.
Nantucket is an island off of Cape Cod.