Investigators searching for a missing British woman in the US Virgin Islands are questioning her boyfriend’s account of the night she disappeared.
According to Ryan Bane, he and Sarm Heslop, 41, took his catamaran’s dinghy to shore for dinner the night of March 7, then returned to the Siren Song, watched a movie, and fell asleep. In the middle of the night, he told police, the boat’s anchor alarm woke him, and he discovered that Heslop was not on board.
All her belongings — and the dinghy — were still in place, he said.
But now US Virgin Islands Police Department spokesman Toby Derima says that “nothing so far actually confirms the couple went back to the yacht together that night,” according to The Telegraph.
Derima said detectives are searching through surveillance video from around the area where Heslop and Bane had dinner that night — and where Heslop was last seen by independent witnesses.
“We are viewing every surveillance video there is to ascertain whether Sarm made it back to the boat with Ryan Bane,” Derima said. “Detectives are trying to establish this. They have to go by Ryan Bane’s story, but they are still trying to verify it. Obviously we know the dinghy did go back to the yacht, but it has not so far been verified that Sarm was on it.”
Bane called USVI police at 2 a.m. on March 8, when he said he discovered Heslop missing, and police told him to call the US Coast Guard so they could begin a search and rescue. But he waited nearly 10 hours to do so, and when he did, he refused to let them search the boat. And, The Telegraph said, he was given a citation for impeding officers.
“On March 8, following a search of the bay and shoreline from both a helicopter and small boat, the Coast Guard went initially aboard the Siren Song to conduct a reporting source interview to gather information to assist with the surface-water search, and then again, on a second occasion that afternoon, to conduct a standard vessel safety inspection,” Ricardo Castrodad, the US Coast Guard’s San Juan Sector public affairs officer, told The Telegraph
“The operator denied access to the interior of the vessel and was cited for obstruction of a boarding,” Castrodad said. “The vessel operator was cited for multiple violations, including failure to provide a certificate of documentation for the vessel, obstruction of a boarding, and safety equipment violations.”
Castrodad said the Coast Guard conducted “an extensive search” of the waters in the area, where the Siren Song was moored, but found no sign of Heslop.
“[With] no sign of distress reported by aviation or marine units, no response to the urgent marine information broadcast, and no additional or correlating information to support further surface search efforts, the Coast Guard suspended the active search,” he said.
And then, overnight on Wednesday, Bane lifted his anchor and sailed away. But US Virgin Islands Police Commissioner Trevor Velinor told Fox News on Saturday that police knew where Bane’s boat had gone, if not Bane himself.
“We know where the Siren Song is located, and so we assume that where the Siren Song is, he’s also located in that area,” Velinor said, as CrimeOnline previously reported.
Read more about Sarm Heslop’s disappearance on CrimeOnline.
For the latest true crime and justice news, subscribe to the ‘Crime Stories with Nancy Grace’ podcast: