The boyfriend of a woman who went missing in the U.S. Virgin Islands in March is rebutting claims from police that they have lost track of him, Fox News reports.
Sarm Heslop, 41, disappeared the evening of March 7 after dining out with her boyfriend, Ryan Bane, 44, and possibly returning to his nearly $600,000 yacht moored in Frank Bay, St. John. However, investigators have not yet been able to confirm where Heslop went after dinner.
Bane reported Heslop missing around 2:30 a.m. March 8.
Authorities have not charged Bane with any crimes in connection with the disappearance of Heslop but have said he is a “person of interest,” according to Fox News.
Virgin Islands Police Department spokesman Toby Derima said in a statement last week that the agency does not know where Bane is presently located.
“We have been keeping track of Ryan Bane, but right now we don’t know where he is,” Derima said, according to The Mirror. “I appeal to him now to contact us. I want to appeal to his conscience, to let us know what happened the night Sarm disappeared.
“As this is an ongoing investigation, the Virgin Islands Police Department maintains that we would like to interview Ryan Bane, as he was the last person to have contact with Ms. Heslop.”
However, Bane’s attorney, David Cattie, told Fox News that authorities are mischaracterizing their ability to contact him.
“I can state that I personally advised law enforcement of Mr. Bane’s movements while in the Territory and about his departure from the U.S. Virgin Islands,” Cattie told Fox News. “I further advised law enforcement that if Mr. Bane’s presence is legally required in the Territory, he will return upon such a demand.”
Cattie added: “Mr. Bane had nothing to do with Sarm’s disappearance and remains heartbroken that she is missing.”
A group that refers to itself as “Friends of Heslop” also told Fox News that authorities likely know where Bane is located.
“We are aware that Ryan Bane is no longer in an area under the VIPD jurisdiction, however, we believe his location is known to police. The investigation is ongoing and we continue to do everything we can to assist,” the group said, according to Fox News.
Around the time Heslop vanished, police have said they told Bane to request a search-and-rescue mission from the U.S. Coast Guard; the Coast Guard has said it received that request approximately 10 hours after Bane’s communication with local police.
The Coast Guard has also said that Bane refused to allow a full search of his boat, which is why Bane was cited for obstruction of a boarding.
“Mr. Bane was cited for obstruction of a safety boarding. Our boarding team was denied full access to complete a full safety check of the vessel by the operator. It was an administrative boarding and so penalties, even if not yet fully adjudicated, are not criminal in nature and typically meant to correct a safety deficiency,” Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Jason Neiman told Fox News.
Cattie disputes this claim.
“[Bane] also met with the U.S. Coast Guard on his vessel later that day, answered all questions posed to him, and gave them unfettered access to the vessel,” Cattie told Fox News. “Any reports to the contrary are categorically false.
“It was Mr. Bane who called the USCG and invited them to the vessel. Multiple officers boarded the vessel and they conducted an on-site inspection of the vessel and an on-site interview without limitation. We have not received any preliminary assessment or fine for any alleged violations. If and when one is received, we will respond accordingly.”
Bane has a criminal history of domestic violence, including a conviction of domestic assault in Michigan after he beat his former wife in 2011.
To report information about Heslop’s location, call the U.S. Virgin Islands Police Department at 340-774-2211 or Crime Stoppers USVI at 800-222-TIPS.
Read CrimeOnline’s extensive coverage of the missing Sarm Heslop investigation here.
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