Real Name: John Lee Paul Sr.
Aliases: Hans-Johan Paul (birth name)
Wanted For: Questioning in Disappearance, Parole Violation
Missing Since: May 2001
Details: In April 1998, fifty-one-year-old Colleen Wood, a divorced mother of two grown children, moved from Dayton, Ohio, to Boca Raton, Florida. Living in the Sunshine State was the culmination of a lifelong dream. The charming former high school homecoming queen went to work at Lighthouse Point Marina as office manager. Then, in December 2000, following a whirlwind romance with a sixty-two-year-old former professional race driver and Wall Street wizard named John Paul, Colleen suddenly vanished without a trace. To those who know her, it is unimaginable that she would not call or write.
In the months following Colleen's disappearance, the mystery only deepened, and police were baffled. There was no body, no suicide note, and no evidence of foul play. In fact, legally, there is no crime and no suspect. While Colleen is listed as a missing person by Fort Lauderdale police, her family and friends fear the worst. Detectives would like to talk to the one person who might be able to shed some light on her fate, John. But months after she was last seen, he, too, mysteriously disappeared.
Loved ones described Colleen as friendly, outgoing, and trusting. Sometime in Fall 1999, she decided to give "Cupid" another chance. In November, she met John, who lived in Fort Lauderdale, through a personal ad that was looking for a sailing companion. She was impressed with his credentials; he told her he had an MBA from Harvard. In the racing circle, he was very famous. He was also reputed to be wealthy, due to his success in the ownership of a mutual fund company. Within a few months of their first date, Colleen and John had become inseparable. He went from giving her flowers and a diamond bracelet to taking her on a trip to Europe.
One evening, following an intimate dinner, Colleen shared some of her hopes and dreams. One of her dreams was to sail around the world for five years. She was surprised and thrilled when John suggested they make the voyage together aboard his fifty-five-foot schooner, "Island Girl". It was a wild adventure torn from the pages of a steamy romance novel. Within a few weeks, she had sold her Boca Raton condominium and entrusted him with investing the net proceeds, $43,000. She also sold her car. A short time later, she moved in with him aboard the boat, then quit her job. He told her that she could work as his assistant.
Maureen Canada, owner of the Lighthouse Point Marina, was shocked when Colleen said she was leaving. Maureen was concerned about Colleen selling all of her assets to take the trip. Colleen told her that while she understood the risks, she felt it was worth it because she had been wanting to take the trip for years. She said that it might be the only chance for her to do it.
On December 3, 2000, Colleen placed a call to her son, Michael, in Ohio. She told him that the boat was setting sail in a few weeks and she would be in touch soon. According to Maureen, she called Colleen's cell phone and spoke to her about ten days later, on December 13 or 14. She invited her to the office Christmas party. Colleen said she was at a bar in Key West with John. Maureen thought she sounded fine and was having a good time. She told Maureen that she was looking forward to the party, which was on December 19, the following Tuesday. However, she never showed up. Maureen assumed that something happened, such as rough seas, which prevented them from going back on the boat.
Maureen was the last known person (other than John) to speak to Colleen. On December 20, someone picked up mail from her and John's jointly held mail service in Green Cove Springs, Florida. It is not known if she did the pickup. Colleen did not contact her family over Christmas. When she still had not contacted anyone on New Year's, her family and friends started to worry. They knew she would have tried to call them over the holidays. On January 8, Michael tried to call her on her cell phone; he learned that the account had been closed on December 28 due to lack of payment. He immediately contacted the police in Green Cove Springs, but there was no evidence of any crime. Days turned to weeks, then months. Still, there was no sign of Colleen.
Michael, along with his brother Todd and other family members, spent most of January and February 2001 calling back and forth with the Coast Guard and the FCC in an attempt to identify and locate the boat. Back in Ohio, Michael searched the internet in hopes of finding an address or phone number for John. What he discovered gave him grave concerns. He found an article that said that John had served time in prison. In fact, John was the mastermind behind a drug smuggling ring in the early 1980s and tried to kill his partner-in-crime, Stephen Carson, for allegedly "ratting" him out and agreeing to testify against him. He tried to abduct Stephen from a boat dock and then shot him in the back, kidney, and leg. Fortunately, Stephen survived.
In 1983, John fled the United States to avoid trial. In January 1985, he was arrested in Geneva, Switzerland. In 1987, he was convicted of attempted first-degree murder and criminal conspiracy in St. Johns County, Florida. He was sentenced to twenty years in federal prison; he served fifteen years. While in prison, he allegedly tried to escape by squirting chemicals into the eyes of a corrections officer. He was paroled in 1999 and met Colleen less than a year later. His plan to sail around the world was in direct violation of his parole.
Michael began to fear that Colleen was on the boat with a killer. Her family and friends were certain she knew nothing about John's past. However, his prison record was not the only thing that had some people troubled. He would later give three different accounts of his relationship with Colleen, which he says ended on the rocks.
John allegedly told version one to his daughter. According to Michael, she said Colleen had become irate over an incident involving one of John's old girlfriends and ended the relationship. She also said he changed the name of the boat to "Diamond Girl" in February because he wanted to avoid the "bad memories" associated with Colleen. Michael was panicked when he heard that they had apparently broken up in December. He pleaded with John's daughter to have her father call him.
Three days later, John did. And a second version of the story emerged. He told Michael that they had an argument. He did not remember what it was about. After it, she left the boat, which was docked on the New River in Fort Lauderdale. She later came back with her "football player" boyfriend, gathered all her belongings, and left the boat again. He said he had not seen her since. He never contacted her family or police.
After that conversation, Michael filed a missing person's report with the Fort Lauderdale Police Department. He was suspicious of John's story; he did not believe Colleen would have needed to intimidate John into getting her belongings. In April 2001, some four months after Colleen was last heard from, detectives Mark Shotwell and Al Stone were assigned to the case. Their investigation quickly led to some suspicious activity on Colleen's credit cards. According to Detective Shotwell, in a two-month period between mid-December and mid-February, at least eighty cash advancements totaling over $40,000 had occurred on her cards at ATMs in Fort Lauderdale. They were able to find solid physical evidence which showed that not only did Colleen not make any of the transactions, they were not made with her consent.
If Colleen was not withdrawing cash from the ATMs, then who was? The police are still investigating, and would only say it was a woman, perhaps more than one. Also raising suspicion were two ads that appeared in a local newspaper. Both of them were placed in Colleen's name using her credit cards. Both were ordered by a man. The first one ran in early December and was in the help wanted section, looking for a first mate on a boat. The second one ran in mid-December and was in the romance "male-seeking-female" section.
Had the ads been placed by John? Detectives were not sure. They did know the second one began running on December 16, 2000, about the same time Maureen had spoken to Colleen by phone. According to Maureen, Colleen told her then that she was partying with John in Key West, and everything was fine.
Detectives Shotwell and Stone were anxious to hear about the events of December 2000 from John himself. They finally tracked him down to the Florida Keys in May 2001. It was then, according to detectives, that he offered his third version of the breakup with Colleen. He said that in mid-December, around December 15, he and Colleen had a large fight over money. According to him, she owed him money and had made no effort to repay it. After the argument, she left. She later returned with two men and picked up her belongings. One week later, on December 23, he left Fort Lauderdale.
But the alleged inconsistent stories weren't all that detectives claimed had them troubled. They noticed that as John told his story, he became increasingly nervous. Detective Shotwell also noticed that he seemed unconcerned about Colleen, a woman that he lived with and supposedly loved. Detective Shotwell felt it was a very unusual interview and there was very little compassion on John's part. They later learned from a neighbor that John was often drunk and loud. On one occasion, he threatened to kill the neighbor over a parking spot. Colleen's sons said that she accepted his "temper".
Despite the allegations of suspicious behavior and the inconsistent stories regarding John and his breakup with Colleen, there is no solid evidence to indicate he had anything to do with her disappearance. In fact, he may have no knowledge whatsoever about the mystery surrounding her. He has not been named a suspect in the case. Detective Shotwell notes that they have no body and no physical evidence to show them what happened to her. However, based on everything he has discovered, he does not believe she is still alive.
Maureen believes that Colleen is dead. She said that it is scary to know that something so bad can happen to someone so close to her. She said, "People think, 'Oh that happens to everybody else.' Well, I'm everybody else." Michael wants to find out what happened to his mother. If John is responsible, he wants justice served against him.
John has apparently left town on his boat, violating the terms of his parole. Police have been unable to locate him. It is not unheard of for him to disappear for lengthy periods, as he had sailed across the Atlantic at least once. Detectives would like to find him to question him again about Colleen's disappearance. He is also considered a suspect in the 1981 disappearance of his first wife, Chalice Paul.
John was born on March 12, 1939. He has brown and gray hair. He would now be in his eighties.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the August 9, 2002 episode.
Results: Wanted. Detectives were able to identify and locate the two women who had used Colleen's credit cards. They told the detectives that the same man had taken them to different ATMs and given them Colleen's cards and PIN numbers. He paid them ten to twenty percent of the money and kept the rest for himself. The women identified the man as John. Michael believes that John accessed the credit card information from her computer.
Detectives first received tips that John was in Montego Bay, Jamaica; however, he vanished before they could question him. In 2004, after the Unsolved Mysteries segment re-aired, a viewer recognized him as someone living in Fiji. However, because Fiji does not have an extradition treaty with the United States, authorities could do nothing. Since then, John Paul has been spotted in ports throughout Asia and Europe.
An acquaintance of John's was on his boat in while in Fiji in 2004 and was suspicious of him and his connections to Colleen. She managed to smuggle a laptop from the boat and give it to one of the detectives. It was later confirmed that the computer belonged to Colleen. Information on the computer helped the detectives determine how John Paul made some of the transactions with Colleen's account.
The last report that detectives have about John's whereabouts was from 2009, when he and the boat were in Thailand. He intended to open a dive shop off the coast of Thailand. In 2011, he reportedly sold the Diamond Girl. Colleen has never been located; he is still considered a person of interest in the case and police would like to re-question hiim in regards to it. He is also wanted on a parole violation. He has yet to return to the United States.
John's son, John Paul Jr., passed away on December 29, 2020, at the age of sixty.
- John Paul on Wikipedia
- Chalice Paul website with history of her and John
- Swiss To Extradite Paul Sr. for Trial - November 20, 1985
- John Paul Jr. Gets Prison Sentence - May 8, 1986
- Ex-Racer pleads guilty - June 5, 1986
- Woman vanishes; foul play suspected - June 12, 2001
- Missing woman planned around-the-world voyage - June 12, 2001
- Missing woman's friend a smuggler - June 13, 2001
- Woman's romantic odyssey turns into grim mystery - June 24, 2001
- Racers who have run afoul with the law - May 7, 2014
- Former IndyCar driver John Paul Jr. battles Huntington's disease - January 28, 2019
- John Paul AMW Discussion Thread