Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance
Details of Disappearance
Robert was last seen on February 15, 2008. Mr. Vendrick is a retired computer programmer and a resident of Phoenix, Arizona, who came to Orange County on February 15, 2008, to meet an investment partner, Gary A. Shawkey. According to family members he was to take a boat from an unknown location to San Clemente Island to close a business deal that would yield a large sum of money. Vendrick wired $60,000 to a Laguna Niguel Wells Fargo branch as part of the deal, while his brother said he wired $40,000 to the same bank to help complete the deal. Mr. Vendrick’s personal belongings were found in his hotel room along with his medication.
Mr. Vendrick and Shawkey purchased a 23’ South Coast Sailboat, CF6896EC, named the “Odyessy”. The boat turned up at a guest slip in Long Beach, and the U.S. Coast Guard helped search the waters between there and Dana Point. Mr. Vendrick’s rental vehicle was located in the Dana Point Harbor area.
Mr. Shawkey was located and interviewed, he turned himself in to authorities after showing up with the boat and without his partner. He told investigators he took Vendrick back to Dana Point Harbor after the he had a change of heart during the boat trip. Shawkey said he continued on alone, sailing the 23-foot sailboat to Long Beach, unaware of the fate of his partner.
Investigators later discovered the anchor, chain and engine of the tiny sailboat were replaced before authorities took possession of the craft as part of their investigation into Vendrick's disappearance. Shawkey told investigators that both the anchor and chain were lost at sea after he dropped off Vendrick at Dana Point Harbor. Shawkey purchased a new chain and anchor when he arrived in Long Beach a few days later.
Gary Shawkey was sentenced July 22, 2011 to life in state prison without the possibility of parole for the murder of Robert Lee Vendrick. He was found guilty of one felony count of special circumstances murder for financial gain, one felony count of grand theft, and a sentencing enhancement for theft of more than $200,000. The conviction without the recovery of a body was a legal rarity.
If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
Orange County Sheriff's Department