By Shawn Regan
---- — GROVELAND — Residents of this small town are reeling from news that a well-known 2006 graduate of Pentucket Regional High School was found dead on a cruise ship docked in northern Australia.
Police said Jackie Kastrinelis’ body was found Sunday morning in her cabin on the luxury cruise ship Seven Seas Voyager in Darwin Harbor. The 24-year-old woman had been a crew member since 2011 and was the lead singer in the ship’s musical show.
Kastrinelis was the daughter of Deputy Chief Michael Kastrinelis of the town’s Fire Department and Kathleen Kastrinelis, a former selectwoman and also a former member of the Pentucket Regional School Committee. The parents are believed to be on the way to Australia to identify the body and could not be reached for comment.
Police initially treated the ship’s cabin where the body was found as a crime scene, but in a statement released yesterday authorities said they do not believe Kastrinelis was the victim of a crime. One online media source reported that Kastrinelis is believed to have suffered a head injury during a rehearsal and that she may have been given medication by a ship’s doctor.
“The Crime Division is no longer treating the death as suspicious,” police Detective Superintendent James O’Brien said in the statement posted yesterday on the Northern Territory Police website. “Further toxicology results will be analyzed in due course to determine the exact cause of death.”
Groveland Selectman Donald Greaney, a friend of the Kastrinelis family and former firefighter who worked with Michael Kastrinelis for many years, said he visited the family yesterday and that they were devastated by the death.
Greaney’s daughter Leigh grew up with Jackie Kastrinelis and graduated with her from Pentucket Regional High in West Newbury in 2006.
Leigh Greaney, who lives in New York, said she hadn’t seen Kastrinelis since high school, but that the two were neighbors and friends when they were in grade school and their fathers worked together on the Fire Department. She recalled going to Fire Department Christmas parties together and giving Kastrinelis a makeover in fifth grade.
“She was eccentric and quirky,” Greaney said. “Back then, people thought she was odd until being your own person became cool.”
According to the NT News in Australia, Kastrinelis was the lead singer for a 12-member company of performers working for Jean Ann Ryan Productions, a Florida-based company. Ryan called Kastrinelis a “great singer” whose death shocked her fellow cast members.
“Everyone here is in a state of disbelief. We have just found out and it is just shocking,” she told the Australian news outlet.
She described the young star as outgoing and loved by all.
“She was a ray of sunshine, a life force and a beautiful person,” Ryan said.
After graduating from Pentucket Regional High, Kastrinelis attended the University of Hartford where she was a reporter on the student-run television news channel, STN 2, according to the station’s Facebook page.
“It is with great sadness that STN2 is able to confirm that former anchor and reporter Jackie Kastrinelis, a member of the Class of 2010, died over the weekend,” the station posted on Facebook.
Friends and family posted their condolences on social media as word of the tragedy began circulating.
“The world lost a bright light in Jackie Kastrinelis But the Angels gained one. RIP Jackie. You will never be forgotten,” one tweeter said.
“Rest in peace to my beautiful and talented cousin Jackie. I love you,” another said.
According to news reports, the Seven Seas Voyager is part of Regent Cruise Lines. It had 700 passengers and 447 crew members, including 12 theatrical performers.