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Sister of missing woman lost at sea accuses husband in disappearance

Published: Monday, June 05, 2017 @ 7:03 PM
By: Eliot Kleinberg , Palm Beach Post

As a Boca Raton police officer watched, one of Isabella Hellman’s sisters called Lewis Bennett her killer.

“Eventually, Lewis and I decided that it was best that he leave,” Boca Raton Officer J.P. Cohen wrote in a report about the standoff between Bennett and his missing wife’s family a week ago. Bennett left without incident.

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The scene was the latest development in the missing-at-sea case involving Hellmann, Bennett’s wife of three months and the mother of their 9-month-old daughter, which has spanned parts of the Caribbean to Australia, and has drawn world attention. The person at its center is nowhere to be found.

Bennett, 40, a dual British-Australian citizen, has said the last time he saw Hellman, the suburban Delray Beach couple had just sailed from Cuba at about 5:30 p.m. May 14. They were in the final days of a weeks-long Caribbean trip.

Bennett has told authorities he went below deck on their 37-foot catamaran at about 8 p.m. and was jolted awake around 1 a.m. May 15 by the vessel striking something. He said he came topside to find Hellmann gone and the boat taking on water about 30 miles west of Cay Sal in The Bahamas. Bennett was rescued, but after a four-day search, Hellmann was still unaccounted for.

Police said that after Sunday’s incident, the officer reached out to a federal contact to advise him on the incident and learned of a federal investigation into the disappearance of Hellmann, a 41-year-old real-estate broker.

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The Coast Guard and the FBI have confirmed they are jointly conducting a “missing person investigation” into the disappearance. But neither agency has said specifically that it is targeting Bennett or even that it is investigating the possibility of foul play.

Neither Bennett nor Hellmann’s family has responded to numerous inquiries for comment.

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