The parents of a British woman who disappeared in the US Virgin Islands early last month are watching the so far fruitless search for their daughter from afar.
Peter and Brenda Heslop desperately want to get to the Caribbean island, but a restriction in place aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19 is keeping them at home.
“If we could travel we would,” the pair said in a statement, according to British tabloid The Mirror. “We want to be helping with the search and we dream of being able to wrap our arms round our darling daughter.”
The restriction bars non-US citizens from entering if they have been in certain areas — including the United Kingdom, where the Heslops live — in the past 14 days prior to their attempt to enter.
“It is now over three weeks since Sarm went missing,” they said. “We know that the Virgin Islands Police Department is doing as much as possible.”
Sarm Heslop, 41, reportedly vanished sometime after having dinner with her boyfriend, wealthy American Ryan Bane, on March 7 on the island of St John. Bane, 44, told police the two came back to his boat, the Siren Song, watched a movie and fell asleep. When the anchor alarm woke him at about 2 a.m., he said, Heslop was gone. Her belongings and the Siren Song’s dinghy, which they’d used to go to dinner, were still there.
Bane called USVI police and reported Heslop missing at about 2:30 a.m., but he didn’t call the US Coast Guard — which would be the agency that would search the waters — for nearly 10 hours, and when he did, he’d already contacted a lawyer who advised him not to let anyone search the boat. The Coast Guard cited him for obstruction and other maritime violations.
Bane lifted anchor and sailed away from his mooring shortly after the disappearance, but Virgin Islands police say they know Bane is.
And, US Virgin Islands Police Department spokesman Toby Derima said last week that “nothing so far actually confirms the couple went back to the yacht together that night,” , as CrimeOnline previously reported.
“He’s still refusing us boarding the boat, and we are still working to see what angles we can use,” Derima told The Mirror.
Derima said investigators need probable cause to obtain a search warrant for the Siren Song but wouldn’t say what that might be.
“That I won’t get into,” he said. “If we give that out people could take steps to make sure we don’t get it.”
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[Featured image: Sarm Heslop and Ryan Bane (inset)/handout]