An eight-story plunge off a cruise ship may have been the purposeful last moment in a life that alternated between happiness and struggle for writer Jennifer Seitz, her brother told "Good Morning America" today in an exclusive interview.
Jennifer Seitz, 36, fought weight problems along with serious emotional issues that could have been a factor in her disappearance early Friday morning.
"She was recently, within the last few years, diagnosed as bipolar," said her brother, who requested his name not be used. "It's going to be a torment and a torture for this family for the rest of our natural lives."
The mystery surrounding the woman's disappearance began on a warm Christmas night aboard the Norwegian Pearl cruise ship off the coast of Cancun, Mexico, when Jennifer Seitz, who lived in central Florida, may have taken a stroll on the decks of the ship.
"My sister commonly woke up in the middle of the night. She was getting up pretty much every night at about, you know, 1 or 2 o'clock in the morning and walking around the ship just to ease her mind and then go back to bed," her brother told "GMA."
The fact that she never came back is about the only thing investigators are sure of, despite the reported existence of a video that shows a woman in a white bathrobe going overboard early Friday morning.
According to Jennifer Seitz's brother, her husband, Raymond Seitz, got up later to find her and, when he could not locate his wife, reported her missing to ship security. Her mother was also staying with the couple.
"It's horrible that they both had to be there when she made the choice she made," her brother said.
After 72 hours of combing thousands of miles off the coast of Mexico, the Coast Guard suspended the search and said Monday, "There's no longer any real probability of survival."
While the FBI attempts to determine whether a crime occurred, the Seitz family is searching for answers as to why Jennifer Seitz may have taken her life. According to the FBI, Raymond Seitz is not a suspect in her disappearance.
'Jennifer Was ... Happy'
To the family, Jennifer Seitz's possible suicide is especially distressing because of her attitude before the cruise.
"Jennifer was in a very happy and uplifted mood both before and during the cruise," the family said in a statement.
Jennifer Seitz was a freelance writer who penned articles for the Tampa Tribune and Florida Today and she wrote an online article called "Battling the Bulge on Board" about staying fit aboard a cruise. In addition to writing, Jennifer Seitz was an avid chef and trained poll workers during elections.
"She's always been a person that has been very ambitious and always gone after the things she's wanted in life," her brother said. "She was always a go-getter."
One of those things she wanted and got was her husband. The couple met at a support group after both had obesity surgery. They were married a year ago and, according to Jennifer Seitz's brother, Raymond Seitz was a devoted husband.
"He loved my sister so deeply. You could see it in every way he touched her, every way he talked to her," the brother said. "He would pick her up from any low that she ever had."
Some passengers on the cruise, however, said the husband behaved strangely after Jennifer Seitz's disappearance.
"He was walking around the ship like nothing had happened," one witness said.
Raymond Seitz was arrested in April on charges of domestic violence. He allegedly head-butted Jennifer Seitz, but the charge was dropped when she requested that prosecutors not pursue the case.
For Jennifer Seitz's brother, speculation of foul play is unfounded and insulting.
"I can't even use the words on an interview that I want to use to the people who are speculating, who are outright lying, who are just trying to get their five minutes of fame," he said. "These people from this cruise ship who think that they know people because they talked to them for 2½ minutes have no clue who they met."
But even for Jennifer Seitz's family, questions abound about what might have caused her abrupt change of mood.
"I would love to say that we have evidence that we know what happened to my sister," her brother said. "But that evidence doesn't exist."