A British flight attendant who vanished over a week ago remains missing in the U.S. Virgin Islands as questions surround the investigation.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, Sarm Heslop had been staying on a catamaran with her boyfriend Ryan Bane when she vanished either the night of March 7 or the early morning hours of March 8. She and Bane, who owns the “Siren Song” yacht that was moored near the island of St. John, reportedly went to dinner on March 7 and returned to the 47-foot vessel sometime before 10 p.m. At 2 a.m., hours after the couple went to sleep, Bane reportedly told police that he woke to the sound of the anchor alarm–indicating the vessel had drifted–and discovered that Heslop was gone. Her personal belongings, including her passport and cell phone, had been left behind.
According to a report in the Telegraph, Bane notified the U.S. Coast Guard of Heslop’s disappearance at about 11:45 a.m. on March 8.
“What was happening during those intervening hours? We are very keen to understand that,” said Chris Wilson, a longtime friend of Heslop’s from the UK.
Wilson told CrimeOnline that Heslop, who has traveled extensively and lived in multiple countries, first arrived in St. John in late 2019. Prior to that, she had been working on the south coast of Spain and had taken up sailing with a friend. Eventually, she, the friend, and the friend’s partner sailed across the Atlantic to St. John and stayed there through the early part of the pandemic, though the precise timeline of Heslop’s travels is unclear. She is believed to have met Bane sometime after her initial arrival to the U.S. Virgin Islands. Wilson said that at some point in 2020, Heslop left the Virgin Islands for Malta, but eventually returned. The decision to return to St. John was driven in part by her relationship with Bane, the friend said. Heslop now lives and works with Bane on Siren Song, a charter that he rents out, remaining on the vessel as its captain during tours.
Wilson said he did not know Bane and did not have any more information about Heslop’s relationship with him. But he said that until the day of her disappearance, Heslop remained in regular contact with an extended group of friends who have mobilized together to raise public awareness about Heslop’s disappearance.
“There were text conversations happening right up until Sunday,” Wilson said, adding that he was not aware of anything out of the ordinary in her communications.
“Whatever she does, she is very sensible snd maintains close contact with her friends — that’s absolutely key to her. That’s why it’s a troubling situation” that she’s been out of touch for this long, Wilson said.
Police officials in the U.S. Virgin Island have been unable or unwilling to corroborate details provided by sources about the last evening Heslop was seen. CrimeOnline has been unable to reach the restaurant where she and Bane are said to have dined on March 7.
As the Telegraph reports, police in the Virgin Islands said on Monday that investigators planned to search the vessel, but officials told the newspaper that a search hadn’t taken place as of Tuesday.
A spokesperson for the U.S. Virgin Islands police told CrimeOnline Tuesday afternoon that he did not know if detectives had searched the catamaran. He also said he was unaware if investigators were seeking to obtain CCTV footage from businesses and residences in the area of Heslop’s last known location.
Wilson told CrimeOnline that locals in the Virgin Islands–some who know Heslop–have been instrumental in the search for the missing woman. Members of the community have also passed on information to Heslop’s group of friends in the UK, who are in communication with Heslop’s parents.
“We don’t want to see it get brushed aside,” Wilson said.
A lawyer for Bane told Fox News that the 44-year-old man is devastated about Heslop’s disappearance.
“His only hope is that Sarm is found alive and well. His thoughts and prayers are with Sarm and her family during this difficult time,” the lawyer said.
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