WEST PALM BEACH (CBSMiami) — A possible breakthrough in the battle over a cell phone found at sea that belonged to one of two boys who disappeared last summer while on a fishing trip off the Florida coast.
One family had filed a lawsuit to get access to whatever info may be on it.
Late Monday, Austin Stephanos’ dad told the Palm Beach Post if there’s information on the phone he would share it.
But Stephanos’ iPhone has major salt water damage.
It was found last month near Bermuda, on board the 19-foot boat Stephanos and Perry Cohen had used on their fateful trip.
The 14-year-old boys’ bodies have not been found.
“The only thing we know is that there is new information and new evidence and the parents of Perry want all of the information so they can know what happened to their son, that is their only interest,” said Cohen family attorney Guy Rubin.
Florida Fish and Wildlife is the lead agency handling the investigation, and has the phone. However, because this is not a criminal case, the info on the phone can only be obtained with Stephanos’ family’s permission.
And Cohen’s mother filed a lawsuit Monday to try and force them to.
“We actually don’t know what’s on the phone, which is why we feel it’s very important that it stay with the authorities,” said Pamela Cohen, Perry’s mom.
A digital forensics expert said the phone could hold the boat’s location, its speed, its direction, as well as any distress text messages or photos the boys may have tried to send when they ran into trouble. If it’s not too severely damaged, that is.
Stephanos’ father, Blu Stephanos, posted a statement on line saying the family’s been working with FWC and also with iPhone maker Apple. He said Apple “seems willing to help us try to get the phone operational again. That would be the first order of business.”
The Cohen and Stephanos families, united in this tragedy, have clashed before with the Cohen’s demanding that their son’s likeness be removed from marketing materials being used to raise money for a foundation in Austin’s name.
The investigation, which is listed as a missing persons case, remains open.