When one ship's crew stumbled upon a strange object floating near the Bahamas, they never could have imagined what they would find sitting on top: an 11-year-old girl.
What's more, although she had a high fever and had not eaten in four days, she was alive, CBS News reports.
The crew nursed her back to health, but she was left with a scar no one could ever erase. She was traumatized, but not for the reasons you would think.
“I was awakened by my brother screaming ‘Help, daddy, help,’” Tere Duperrault Fassbender said nearly 50 years later, recalling the moment her story began on a family trip aboard the Bluebelle, Scribol reports. “It was the type of scream that you know that something horrible is happening."
When she investigated the screams, she found her entire family lying in a pool of blood.
It turned out the captain, 44-year-old former troubled military pilot Julian Harvey, had planned on killing his wife on the trip. By throwing her off the ship to her doom, he was hoping to hide the crime by claiming his wife was simply lost in sea.
However, his plan failed when Tere's father saw what was going on and attempted to intervene. Desperate to protect himself, Harvey not only killed her dad, but also Tere's family.
Luckily, Tere was not with the rest of her family at the time, so was able to survive -- but just barely. The girl was able to eventually save her life by using a tiny cork float to escape.
Upon learning of Tere's survived, Harvey killed himself to avoid punishment.
Although she was saved, Tere struggled for years to piece her life and heart back together.
She was eventually able to receive psychiatric care, but it took her decades to open up about what happened to her.
These days, however, she can confidently talk about it and has even written a book about the tragic event, CBS reports.
By talking about her own experience, she hopes she will inspire others going through hard times.
“I always believed I was saved for a reason,” she said. “But it took me 50 years to gain the strength to be able to give other people hope with my story.”