The husband of a woman who went overboard in the Atlantic Ocean while on a vacation at sea has insisted he has “nothing to hide” concerning his new bride’s disappearance, and seems to have given up hope of finding her even though she’s only been missing for just over two weeks.
As Crime Online previously reported, the FBI reportedly questioned Lewis Bennett about his wife Isabella Hellman’s disappearance, but the agency has not said whether or not it is questioning Bennett as a witness or a person of interest.
Bennett reported his wife missing on May 15, after they had set sail from Cuba in a catamara. Bennett told investigators that he had been asleep below deck when he was awoken by the vessel hitting something. He said when he up to the main deck where he had last seen his wife hours before, she was gone, and that boat was taking water.
He made an emergency call and jumped on a life raft. The Coast Guard found him hours later floating in deep water about 1,000 miles from the boat.
The Coast Guard searched for Isabella for three days before calling off the search, having found no traces of her.
Bennett told the Daily Mail that the FBI “hasn’t accused [him] of anything…I have nothing do hide.”
He also told the British newspaper that he had gone to Cuba to search for his wife, speculating that maybe someone found her and brought her there.
“I met the authorities there and checked every hospital, but there is no sign of her,” Bennett said.
“It is now two weeks since she has been missing, so I am not holding out much hope of seeing her so I have to come to terms with that.”
But a source who spoke to the Palm Beach Post, believed to be a neighbor of the couple in Del Ray, Florida, said Bennett had told them he couldn’t travel internationally because he lost his passport at sea.
Hellman’s best friend also spoke to the Palm Beach Post, and said that Isabella and her new husband, who she met online four year ago, had an ongoing disagreement about where they and their now nine-month-old baby would live, with Bennett wanting to move the family to Australia, where he has citizenship, and Hellman wanting to stay near her family.
The friend, Sarah Cortes, also said she had worked as a bank teller with Hellman, though previous reports said that the 41-year-old Columbia native was a real estate agent. And Cortes told the newspaper that Bennett initially did not seem motived to look for his wife after returning to Florida. Cortes said she had to remind him that civilians have often launched their own searches for missing loved ones, and given that he was an experienced sailor, he should be out there looking himself.
She also said she begged Bennett not to take the couple’s baby away from Isabelle’s family.
“I begged him to please understand that the family lost Isabella and the only piece of Isabella left was (the baby), and he needs to understand that he just can’t leave and take (her),” Cortes told the Palm Beach Post.
“He said he understands, but he’s got his life in Australia.”
Bennett told the Daily Mail that he got his daughter, Emilia, from relatives in Florida this weekend after he returned from searching for his wife in Cuba.
Bennett also told the newspaper that there had been some tension between the couple and Hellman’s family, but did not give specifics. And Hellman’s sister Dayana told WPTV that she had a lot of questions about her sister’s disappearance and her husband’s reaction to it, also adding that Hellman initially didn’t want to leave her baby for two weeks, but towards the end of trip had stopped asking detailed questions about her during the few times she was able to contact her family.
Dayana said Bennett offered very few details about the circumstances of the apparent boat malfunction, and that she peppered him with questions.
“Why didn’t you stop the boat and drop the anchor to do something about it? And he said he needed to keep the boat on track, so his priority was to keep the boat on track,” Dayana told the news station.
“I asked him, do you think she’s alive? Do you think she’s dead? And he said ‘I think she she’s asleep.’ That was his answer.”
Photo: WBTV Screenshot