stephanie stearns today

stephanie stearns today

stephanie stearns today

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Who is Stephanie Stearns?

A woman acquitted on charges that she helped her boyfriend murder a yachtswoman on a remote Pacific atoll in 1974 says her “faith in the American judicial system has been reinstated.”

“It’s been grueling,” Stephanie Stearns told reporters after hugging her tearful parents, who sat in the front row throughout the trial. She was acquitted Friday by a federal court jury.

Her boyfriend, Buck Walker, was convicted of murder in June and sentenced to life in prison. Stearns, 39, who was convicted along with Walker of stealing the couple’s yacht, testified that she lied to authorities to help him escape capture but knew nothing of the murder.

Both were charged with murdering Eleanor “Muff” Graham of San Diego, who disappeared along with her husband, Malcolm, from Palmyra atoll in August, 1974.

The jury deliberated 2 1/2 days. Jurors announced they were deadlocked 6-6 before noon Friday, but were told by U.S. District Judge Samuel King to keep deliberating.

A few hours later, the vote was changed to 10-2.

When King asked jurors to consider whether further deliberation would be unproductive, the verdict to acquit was returned less than an hour later.

Stearns and Walker had sailed to Palmyra aboard a leaky boat and were the only other people on the atoll besides the Grahams at the time of their disappearance in 1974.

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Muff and Mac Graham Murders: How Did Buck Duane Walker Die? Where is Stephanie Stearns Now?

In October 1974, 37-year-old Buck Duane Walker and 27-year-old Stephanie Stearns sailed into Hawaii on a boat others instantly recognized as the Sea Wind. The two of them were arrested and brought in for questioning. It was revealed that Buck and Stephanie had been living on the island of Palmyra as well and had known the Grahams. Buck had a long criminal history. At the time, both he and Stephanie faced drug charges and while Buck pleaded guilty, the charges against Stephanie were dropped.

While out on bail, the two of them decided to flee to Palmyra to live off the land. Buck got a passport with a false identity and worked on repairing a sailboat. The two eventually set sail along with their three dogs. Other sailors who passed through the island later stated that Buck and Stephanie did not get along with the Grahams. When questioned about what happened to the Grahams, they claimed that on August 28, Muff and Mac invited them to dinner on their boat, but when they got there, the couple was nowhere to be seen. So, they assumed the Grahams went fishing.

Buck and Stephanie allegedly went looking for them the next day and saw their dinghy overturned and on the shore. Since they could not find the couple, they sailed the boat back to Hawaii to keep it from damage. However, the boat had been partially repainted and Buck had told people earlier that he won the boat in a chess game with a millionaire. Both Buck and Stephanie were convicted of stealing the boat and transporting it to Honolulu, Hawaii. Stephanie received a two-year sentence of which she served seven months in prison and six months in a halfway house.

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stephanie stearns today
Murder scene theme vector illustration. All design elements are layered.

Where is Stephanie Stearns Now?

With no direct evidence of any role Stearns played in the killing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Elliot Enoki cited disputed testimony about a feud between the couples, and pointed to numerous lies and omissions admitted by Stearns in her statements to authorities.

Defense lawyers said Walker was solely responsible for the murder and hid it from Stearns, who testified she thought the Grahams had drowned on a fishing trip, and joined Walker on a search that found the Grahams’ overturned dinghy but no sign of the couple.

Stearns, who sobbed as she read entries from her 1974 log to the jury about the Grahams’ disappearance, denied there was any feud.

She also said she lied about taking the yacht and failed to report the Grahams’ disappearance to authorities in order to protect Walker, who was then a fugitive on drug charges.

Stearns said she would return to work as an office manager in a Los Angeles telecommunications company.

Stephanie was tried for Muff’s murder in 1986. She testified that she lied about the yacht and didn’t report Muff and Mac missing because she was protecting Buck,

who was a fugitive from the law at the time. She claimed to know nothing of the murder. “I swear by all I hold dear

I never harmed anyone in my life,” she said in court. Stephanie was acquitted of all charges. After the trial, she stated that she would work as

an office manager in a telecommunications company in Los Angeles. Beyond that, not much is known about Stephanie or where she lives now.

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