The family and friends of Sarm Heslop, a 41-year-old Briton who disappeared from a boat anchored in the U.S. Virgin Islands almost two weeks ago, are pushing for authorities to carry out a new search of the 47-year-old catamaran. feet.
The request comes after it was revealed that her American boyfriend, Ryan Bane, had acquired a lawyer and was not answering questions or making the boat available to investigators.
“Given that they lived on the boat and she disappeared on the boat, this is a natural place for the police to search, and I just don’t understand why Ryan won’t allow this to happen to find Sarm. Heslop’s close friend Andrew Baldwin told Fox News on Saturday. “It’s frustration more than anything else.”
Heslop’s family said they “would like to be assured” that authorities “are doing everything possible to locate her”, including “a full fingertip search of the boat”.
Bane and Heslop returned to the boat after dinner around 10 p.m. on March 7. Bane discovered she was missing at around 2:30 am on March 8, then called 911 and “went to meet with VIPD members to make a statement regarding Sarm,” according to her attorney, David Cattie.
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Bane was tasked by VIPD officers to call the US Coast Guard, which he did shortly before noon on March 8.
According to Bane’s attorney, “several USCG officers boarded the ship and questioned Mr. Bane on the ship.” According to the VIPD, “the Coast Guard searched the vessel for Ms. Heslop later in the morning.”
Baldwin noted that it was not clear whether the Coast Guard had simply “looked around the boat” or conducted a “fingertip police investigation”.
Coast Guard responds
After being contacted by Fox News, a Coast Guard spokesperson released the following statement, confirming that Coast Guard personnel had boarded the vessel:
“On March 8, the Coast Guard received a report of a possible person in the water of the sailboat Siren Song,” said the statement from Lt. Cmdr. Jason Neiman, Coast Guard Seventh District Public Affairs Officer.
“As part of the search and rescue effort, the Coast Guard went aboard the vessel to interview and gather information from the reporting source. The Coast Guard later returned to the vessel to perform a standard safety check of the vessel to ensure the proper equipment and the rules and regulations applicable to the type and operation of the vessel.
“After a thorough search, no signs of distress reported by aviation or navy units, no response to the release of urgent maritime information, and no additional or correlated information to support further surface search efforts,” the Coast Guard has suspended active search.
The VIPD now says Bane is not answering questions and will not allow authorities to search the boat.
“Shortly after reporting Ms Heslop’s disappearance, Mr Bane enlisted the services of a lawyer,” a VIPD spokesperson said on Friday. “On the advice of his lawyer, Mr. Bane exercised his constitutional right to remain silent and refused the officers’ requests to search the ship.”
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Bane turned over Heslop’s personal effects, including his phone and passport, to the Coast Guard.
“We heard that Sarm’s phone, passport and all of Sarm’s belongings were left on the boat, where she lived with Mr. Bane,” Baldwin said on Saturday. “She wouldn’t just disappear, leaving no trace. She’s shrewd and sane, it’s not like her at all, it’s not at all.”
The boat was anchored in Frank Bay about 50 yards offshore at the time of Heslop’s disappearance.
Drone footage of the boat shows it in relatively shallow water, which Baldwin said was around 11 feet.
Baldwin also noted that Heslop was used to boats, having crossed the Atlantic Ocean in January 2020 and sailing the Caribbean for six months.
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The VIPD continues to research Heslop as the time approaches two weeks after his disappearance.
“The VIPD continues its efforts to locate Ms. Heslop, performing multiple searches daily, speaking to potential witnesses and combing through hours of surveillance footage,” the department said Friday.
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