'Ghost boat' owner facing attempted murder charge, FWC says

Abandoned boat washed ashore in Brevard County after Hurricane Irma

Jeffrey Ray Sundwall, an inmate in Key West, is the owner of an abandoned boat washed up on Melbourne Beach, FWC says.
Jeffrey Ray Sundwall, an inmate in Key West, is the owner of an abandoned boat washed up on Melbourne Beach, FWC says.

MELBOURNE BEACH, Fla. – The abandoned "ghost boat" that washed ashore near Melbourne Beach earlier this week was last registered in the name of a man who is jailed in Key West for attempted murder, kidnapping, and a variety of other charges, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission confirmed.

Jeffrey Ray Sundwall, 47, of Key West is an inmate at the Monroe County Detention Facility, News 6 partner Florida Today reported.

The abandoned 45-foot sailboat "Cuki" was reported Tuesday morning on the sand at Spessard Holland South Beach Park. A magnet for park visitors, the vessel may not be removed for another two weeks to two months because of its size.

In an attempt to identify the owner of the sailboat, FLORIDA TODAY emailed U.S. Coast Guard vessel registration information and Sundwall's arrest information to FWC officials.

"According to our records, the last time that sailing “CUKI” vessel was registered was in 2004 to him," Officer Bobby Dube, FWC spokesman, stated Friday afternoon via email.

In addition, Jeffrey Ray Sundwall was Cuki's last registered owner logged in the NOAA registry, Coast Guard spokesman Luke Clayton confirmed Friday afternoon.

In March, Sundwall was charged with attempted murder, kidnapping-false imprisonment, and sexual assault after an alleged incident with a Texas woman aboard a different boat — a 34-foot cabin trawler named Today — Monroe County Sheriff's Office records show.

According to an offense report, Sundwall used a neck restraint device to choke the victim unconscious, committed sexual battery, and forced her to smoke crack cocaine. The trawler was anchored off of Christmas Tree Island in Key West.

Then in April, Sundwall was charged with 45 counts of possession of child pornography. He also faces other criminal charges.

The port New Rochelle, New York, is painted on the beached boat. Sundwall got the boat from Janusz Machnica, who owned a sailing school off the Long Island Sound in New Rochelle until the business went bankrupt about five years ago.

He was the second owner of the boat, according to Coast Guard vessel documentation records. The first was Decaphun Inc.

Jeremy Kass, a head instructor/manager at New Rochelle's current sailing school, said Machnica moved to Florida and used the boat for sailing lessons before it changed hands.